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Ask The Expert: Why Won’t My Son Turn In Homework?

Overstuffed organized Backpack with homework spilling out

Dear Your Teen:

My 7 th grader frequently does not turn in homework, even though it’s completed. His grades are suffering. We’re all frustrated. Why is he not turning in homework ? And what can I do?

dad or older brother helping young middle schooler with studying

EXPERT | Isaiah Pickens, Ph.D.

Ever forget an appointment and think, “Why didn’t I put it in my calendar?” Now imagine you forgot the appointment and forgot that a calendar exists. While that’s a little far fetched, it may capture how kids who have trouble staying organized feel.

There’s a Mess in Their Heads

Messy desks, misplaced clothes, and not turning in homework are just a few symptoms of the disorganized teenager  who may lack any strategies to stay organized.

Yet parents see that their teens have the ability to complete tasks when someone is hovering. What befuddles parents is the difficulty doing the same when no one is present.

A frustrated parent may wonder, “What’s happening in his head?” Often, his head is where the difficulties originate.

Executive functioning is the neurological process that allows us to organize and plan. For many disorganized teenagers , a deficiency in executive functioning leads to disorganization. Fortunately, parents can help strengthen these skills. Here’s advice about teaching organization skills.

4 Tips to Help Your Teen Develop Executive Functioning Skills and Hand in Homework:

1. make a visual system..

[adrotate banner=”98″]Visual cues that are linked to a routine can ease children into a pattern of organized behavior. For example, use a color-coded filing system that designates a folder for each school subject and one for completed work. Write down each step necessary to successfully complete the task, including the step involving turning in homework . Post these instructions in places your teenager will frequently look, such as the bedroom mirror, the refrigerator and the cover of her class binder. Let your teenager help design the instructions to make the sheet creative and fun. Use a similar process for other areas your child needs to organize such as putting away clothes. Making sure there is a consistent place to store or file goes a long way in helping children develop an organized routine.

2. Develop routines and schedules.

Teenagers sometimes have difficulty gauging how long it will take to complete a task or the best sequence for completing it. Helping your teen  develop schedules, use calendars, and create reminders for completing tasks will provide additional tools for developing an organized routine. Work together to figure out simple strategies for using schedules, calendars, and reminders. Some strategies include setting a phone reminder or pulling out the “completed work” folder at the beginning of each class.

3. Review and adjust strategies.

A daily review of the new routine will provide opportunities to empower your teenager and emphasize areas that are improving. Use this time to allow your child to adjust strategies for staying organized. And highlight the importance of checking to make sure you’ve completed tasks correctly and in their entirety.

4. Reward successes.

Make sure to tell you teenager, “Good job” at the end of the week. Few things motivate a child more than receiving praise from parents on a job well done.

close up of high schooler doing homework

Hopefully, these tips will help encourage your kid to hand in homework on time. Good luck!

Isaiah Pickens, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and founder of  iOpening Enterprises , a creative writing company that creates books, films, and life skills curricula for teens and young adults.

7th grader not doing homework

Seventh-Grader Fails to Turn in Homework

If he does do his homework, that is a real plus. As for helping him get his work turned in, there are several things you can do to help him remember, but he is the one who will have to accept the responsibility for actually giving his work to the teacher. I strongly urge you not to take his homework to him if he forgets it -- this will prevent him from taking responsibility.

The first step is to have a calm conversation with your son about what he sees as the problem. Questions you might cover are: Where does he put his homework when he finishes it? (He should have a pocket folder in his binder dedicated to each subject where he can put his work.) Does he have an assignment notebook so that he knows exactly what the assignment is and when it is due? Is he carrying his binder to each class and not leaving it in the locker?

I encourage you to meet with his counselor, all his teachers, and him, to discuss what is going on and to work out a plan for helping him learn to manage his homework. Ask if a class or some group work in study skills would be appropriate for him. With everyone working on the plan, the chances are much greater that your son will turn in his work.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


Home / Expert Articles / Child Behavior Problems / School & Homework

The Homework Battle: How to Get Children to Do Homework

By debbie pincus, ms lmhc.

Teen girl with hands on head frustrated by homework

Parents often feel it’s their job to get their kids to do well in school. Naturally, you might get anxious about this responsibility as a parent. You might also get nervous about your kids succeeding in life—and homework often becomes the focus of that concern.

But when parents feel it’s their responsibility to get their kids to achieve, they now need something from their children—they need them to do their homework and be a success. I believe this need puts you in a powerless position as a parent because your child doesn’t have to give you what you want.

The battle about homework becomes a battle over control. Your child starts fighting to have more control over the choices in their life, while you feel that your job as a parent is to be in control of things. So you both fight harder, and it turns into a war in your home.

Over the years, I’ve talked to many parents who are in the trenches with their kids, and I’ve seen firsthand that there are many creative ways kids rebel when it comes to schoolwork. Your child might forget to do their homework, do their homework but not hand it in, do it sloppily or carelessly, or not study properly for their test. These are just a few ways that kids try to hold onto the little control they have.

When this starts happening, parents feel more and more out of control, so they punish, nag, threaten, and argue. Some parents stop trying altogether to get their children to do homework. Or, and this is common, parents will over-function for their kids by doing the work for them.

Now the battle is in full swing: reactivity is heightened as anxiety is elevated—and homework gets lost in the shuffle. The hard truth for parents is that you cannot make your children do anything, let alone homework. But what you can do is to set limits, respect their individual choices, and help motivate them to motivate themselves.

You might be thinking to yourself, “You don’t know my child. I can’t motivate him to do anything.” Many parents tell me that their children are not motivated to do their work. I believe that children are motivated—they just may not be motivated the way you’d like them to be. Keep reading for some concrete tips to help you guide them in their work without having to nag, threaten, or fight with them.

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Also, keep in mind that if you carry more of the worry, fear, disappointments, and concern than your child does about their work, ask yourself, “What’s wrong with this picture, and how did this happen?” Remember, as long as you carry their concerns, they don’t have to.

Stop the Nightly Fights

The way you can stop fighting with your kids over homework every night is to stop fighting with them tonight. Disengage from the dance. Choose some different steps or decide not to dance at all. Let homework stay where it belongs—between the teacher and the student. Stay focused on your job, which is to help your child do their job. Don’t do it for them.

If you feel frustrated, take a break from helping your child with homework. Your blood pressure on the rise is a no-win for everyone. Take five or ten minutes to calm down, and let your child do the same if you feel a storm brewing.

Create Structure Around Homework Time

Set limits around homework time. Here are a few possibilities that I’ve found to be effective with families:

  • Homework is done at the same time each night.
  • Homework is done in a public area of your house.
  • If grades are failing or falling, take away screen time so your child can focus and have more time to concentrate on their work.
  • Make it the rule that weekend activities don’t happen until work is completed. Homework comes first. As James Lehman says, “The weekend doesn’t begin until homework is done.”

Let Your Child Make Their Own Choices

I recommend that your child be free to make their own choices within the parameters you set around schoolwork. You need to back off a bit as a parent. Otherwise, you won’t be helping them with their responsibilities.

If you take too much control over the situation, it will backfire on you by turning into a power struggle. And believe me, you don’t want a power struggle over homework. I’ve seen many kids purposely do poorly just to show their parents who’s in charge. I’ve also seen children who complied to ease their parents’ anxiety, but these same kids never learned to think and make choices for themselves.

Let Your Child Own the Consequences of Their Choices

I’m a big believer in natural consequences when it comes to schoolwork. Within the structure you set up, your child has some choices. They can choose to do their homework or not. And they can choose to do it well and with effort or not. The natural consequences will come from their choices—if they don’t choose to do their work, their grades will drop.

When that happens, you can ask them some honest questions:

“Are you satisfied with how things are going?”

“What do you want to do about your grade situation?”

“How can I be helpful to you?”

Be careful not to be snarky or judgmental. Just ask the question honestly. Show honest concern and try not to show disappointment.

Intervene Without Taking Control

The expectation is that homework is done to the best of your child’s ability. When they stop making an effort, and you see their grades drop, that’s when you invite yourself in. You can say:

“It’s my job to help you do your job better. I’m going to help you set up a plan to help yourself, and I will check in to make sure you’re following it.”

Set up a plan with your child’s input to get them back on their feet. For example, the new rules might be that homework must be done in a public place in your home until they get their grades back up. You and your child might meet with the teacher to discuss disciplinary actions should their grades continue to drop.

In other words, you will help your child get back on track by putting a concrete plan in place. And when you see this change, you can step back out of it. But before that, your child is going to sit in a public space and you’re going to monitor their work.

You’re also checking in more. Depending on your child’s age, you’re making sure that things are checked off before they go out. You’re adding a half-hour of review time for their subjects every day. And then, each day after school, they’re checking with their teacher or going for some extra help.

Remember, this plan is not a punishment—it’s a practical way of helping your child to do their best.

“I Don’t Care about Bad Grades!”

Many parents will say that their kids just don’t care about their grades. My guess is that somewhere inside, they do care. “I don’t care” also becomes part of a power struggle.

In other words, your child is saying, “I’m not going to care because you can’t make me. You don’t own my life.” And they’re right. The truth is, you can’t make them care. Instead, focus on what helps their behavior improve. And focus more on their actions and less on their attitude because it’s the actions that matter the most.

Motivation Comes From Ownership

It’s important to understand that caring and motivation come from ownership. You can help your child be motivated by allowing them to own their life more.

So let them own their disappointment over their grades. Don’t feel it more than they do. Let them choose what they will do or not do about their homework and face the consequences of those choices. Now they will begin to feel ownership, which may lead to caring.

Let them figure out what motivates them, not have them motivated by fear of you. Help guide them, but don’t prevent them from feeling the real-life consequences of bad choices. Think of it this way: it’s better for your child to learn from those consequences at age ten by failing their grade and having to go to summer school than for them to learn at age 25 by losing their job.

When Your Child Has a Learning Disability

I want to note that it’s very important that you check to see that there are no other learning issues around your child’s refusal to do homework. If they’re having difficulty doing the work or are performing below grade-level expectations, they should be tested to rule out any learning disabilities or other concerns.

If there is a learning disability, your child may need more help. For example, some kids need a little more guidance; you may need to sit near your child and help a little more. You can still put structures into place depending on who your child is.

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But be careful. Many times, kids with learning disabilities get way too much help and develop what psychologists call learned helplessness . Be sure you’re not over-functioning for your learning disabled child by doing their work for them or filling in answers when they’re capable of thinking through them themselves.

The Difference Between Guidance and Over-Functioning

Your child needs guidance from you, but understand that guidance does not mean doing their spelling homework for them. Rather, it’s helping them review their words. When you cross the line into over-functioning, you take on your child’s work and put their responsibilities on your shoulders. So you want to guide them by helping them edit their book report themselves or helping them take the time to review before a test. Those can be good ways of guiding your child, but anything more than that is taking too much ownership of their work.

If your child asks for help, you can coach them. Suggest that they speak with their teacher on how to be a good student and teach them those communication skills. In other words, show them how to help themselves. So you should not back off altogether—it’s that middle ground that you’re looking for. That’s why I think it’s essential to set up a structure. And within that structure, you expect your child to do what they have to do to be a good student.

Focus on Your Own Goals

When you start over-focusing on your child’s work, pause and think about your own goals and what do you need to get done to achieve those goals. Model your own persistence and perseverance to your child.

Believe In Your Child

I also tell parents to start believing in their children. Don’t keep looking at your child as a fragile creature who can’t do the work. I think we often come to the table with fear and doubt—we think if we don’t help our kids, they’re just not going to do it.

But as much as you say, “I’m just trying to help you,” what your child hears is, “You’re a failure; I don’t believe you can do it on your own.”

Instead, your message should be, “I know you can do it. And I believe in you enough to let you make your own choices and deal with the consequences.”

Related content: What Can I Do When My Child Refuses to Go to School? “My Child Refuses to Do Homework” — How to Stop the Nightly Struggle Over Schoolwork

For more information on the concept of learned helplessness in psychology and behavior, we recommend the following articles:

Psychology Today: Learned Helplessness

VeryWell Mind: What Is Learned Helplessness and Why Does it Happen?

About Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC

For more than 25 years, Debbie has offered compassionate and effective therapy and coaching, helping individuals, couples and parents to heal themselves and their relationships. Debbie is the creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program and is also the author of numerous books for young people on interpersonal relations.

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Frank My daughter Nina just turned 8 (Feb 11). She does not like to do homework one bit. Her teacher gives her homework every day except Friday. She loves Fridays because she doesn't like homework. She always hides her homework under her bed, refuses to do her homework, and in the More morning she tells her teacher "I lost it last night and can't find it!". She feels homework is a waste of time, yes, we all feel that way, but poor Nina needs to learn that homework is important to help you stay smart. She needs to start doing homework. How can I make her 2nd-grade brain know that homework is actually good? Is there a way to make her love, love, LOVE homework? Let me know.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and sharing your story. Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents, we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a direct parenting role. In addition to the tips in More the article above, it may be helpful to look into local resources to help you develop a plan for addressing these particular issues with your cousins, such as their doctor or their teachers. We wish you the best going forward. Take care.

Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach I hear you. Homework can be a challenging, frustrating time in many families even under the best of circumstances, so you are not alone. When kids struggle with a subject, it can be even more difficult to get assignments completed. Although you didn’t indicate that your daughter More has ADHD, you might find some helpful tips in Why School is Hard for Kids with ADHD—and How You Can Help . Author Anna Stewart outlines techniques that can be useful to help make homework more interesting for kids with a variety of learning challenges in this article. You might also consider checking in with your daughter’s teacher, as s/he might have some additional ideas for engaging your daughter in her homework. Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.

So, after reading this I get to say…GREAT…You really do not know my child.  We have done 100% of everything listed in this article.  In the end, my son has utterly declared “I DON’T CARE, AND I DON’T NEED SCHOOL”.  We have attempted a “reward” system as well, and that doesn’t work.  He cares about 3 or 4 things.  Nintendo DS, Lego, K’Nex, TV…all of those he has lost over the past year.  Now he reads, ALL the time.  Fine, but that doesn’t get his homework done.  It also doesn’t get anything else he needs to do done.  We’ve done “task boards”, we’ve done “Reward Systems”, we’ve done the “What is on your list to complete”.  EVERYTHING is met with either a full fledged meltdown (think 2 year old…on the floor, kicking and screaming and crying).  His IMMEDIATE response to ANYTHING that may interrupt him is “NO” or worse.  If something doesn’t go his way directly he throws a fit INSTANTLY, even if the response is “Give me a second” it’s NOW OR I’M DESTROYING SOMETHING.  He’s been suspended multiple times for his anger issues, and he’s only 10.  Unfortuantely we have no family history as he was adopted from Russia.  His “formal” diagnosis are ADHD and Anxiety.  I’m thinking there is something much more going on.  BTW: He did have an IQ test and that put him at 145 for Spacial and Geometric items, with a 136 for written and language.  His composite was 139, which puts him in the genius category, but he’s failing across the board…because he refuses to do the work.

Interesting article and comments. Our son (6th grade) was early diagnosed as ADHD and for the first 3 years of elementary school several of his teachers suggested he might require special education. But then the school counseling staff did a workup and determined that his IQ is 161 and from that point forward his classroom antics were largely tolerated as “eccentric”.  He has now moved to middle school (6th grade) and while his classroom participation seems to be satisfactory to all teachers, he has refused to do approximately 65% of his homework so far this school year. We have tried talking with him, reasoning with him, removing screen time, offering cash payments (which he lectures us as being unethical “bribes”), offering trips, offering hobbies and sporting events, and just about anything we can think of. Our other children have all been through the “talented and gifted” programs, but he simply refuses to participate in day-to-day school work. His fall report card was pretty much solid “F” or “O” grades. He may be bored out of his mind, or he may have some other issues. Unfortunately, home schooling is not an option, and neither is one of the $40,000 per year local private schools which may or may not be in a better position to deal with his approach to school.  Do “learning centers” work for kids like this? Paying somebody else to force him to do his homework seems like a coward’s solution but I am nearly at the end of my rope! Thanks..

RebeccaW_ParentalSupport 12yokosuka Many parents struggle with staying calm when their child is acting out and screaming, so you are not alone.  It tends to be effective to set up a structured time for kids to do their homework and study, and they can earn a privilege if they comply and meet More their responsibilities.  What this might look like for your daughter is that if she studies, she can earn her phone that day.  If she refuses, and chooses to argue or scream at you instead, then she doesn’t earn her phone that day and has another chance the next day.  You can read more about this in  If you are also looking for resources to help you stay calm, I encourage you to check out our articles, blogs, and other resources on  Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

Scott carcione 

I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you are experiencing with your

son.I also hear the different

approaches you and your ex are taking toward parenting your son.While it would be ideal if you were able to

find common ground, and present a consistent, united response to your son’s

choices, in the end, you can only

this point, it might be useful to meet with the school to discuss how you can

work together to hold your son accountable for his actions, such as receiving a

poor grade if he refuses to do his work.Janet Lehman discusses this more in care.

It can be so challenging when your child is acting out at school, yet does

not act that way at home.One strategy I

recommend is talking with your son at home about his behavior at school.During this conversation, I encourage you to

address his choices, and come up with a specific plan for what he can do differently

to follow the rules.I also recommend

working with his teachers, and discussing how you can assist them in helping

your son to follow the rules.You might

find additional useful tips in our article, be sure to write back and let us know

how things are going for you and your son.Take care.

I hear you.It can be so challenging

when your young child is having outbursts like this.A lot of young children tend to act out and

have tantrums when they are experiencing a big transition, such as starting a

new school or adjusting to having a younger sibling, so you are not alone.Something that can be helpful is to set up

clear structure and expectations around homework, as Janet Lehman points out in also encourage you to set aside some time

for you to have with your daughter as well.Please be sure to write back and let us know

how things are going for you and your family.Take care.

JoJoSuma I am having the exact same problem with my 9 year old son. His grades are quickly falling and I have no idea why or where to begin with helping him turn things around. When he applies himself he receives score of 80% or higher, and when he doesn't it clearly shows and he receives failing scores. He, too, says that he doesn't do or want to do the work because it is boring, or that he "Forgot" or "lost it". He has started to become a disruption to the class and at this rate I am afraid that he will have to repeat 5th grade. I am also a single parent so my frustration is at an all time high. You are not alone and I wish you and your family the best.

Thank you so much for these tips RebeccaW_ParentalSupport because I SERIOUSLY had nowhere to turn and no clue where to begin. I have cried many nights feeling like I was losing control. I will try your tips and see where things go from here.

It’s not uncommon

for kids to avoid doing homework, chores or other similar tasks.  After

all, homework can be boring or difficult, and most people (both kids and adults

alike) tend to prefer activities which are enjoyable or fun.  This does

not mean that you cannot address this with your daughter, though. 

Something which can be helpful for many families is to set up a structured

homework time, and to require that your daughter complete her homework in order

to earn a privilege later on that evening.  You can read about this, and

other tips, in 

Please be sure to write back and let us know how things are going for you and

your daughter.  Take care.

Thestruggleisreal I'm just now signing up for these articles, I'm struggling with my 12 year and school work, she just doesn't want to do it, she has no care I'm world to do, she is driving me crazy over not doing, I hate to see her More fail, but I don't know what to do


I can hear how much your

daughter’s education means to you, and the additional difficulties you are

facing as a result of her learning disabilities.  You make a great point

that you cannot force her to do her work, or get additional help, and I also

understand your concern that getting her teachers to “make” her do these things

at school might create more conflict there as well.  As James Lehman

points out in his article,, lowering your expectations for your daughter due to her

diagnosis is probably not going to be effective either.  Instead, what you

might try is involving her in the, and asking her what she thinks she needs, and what she will do

differently, to meet classroom expectations.  Please be sure to write back

and let us know how things are going for you and your family.  Take care.

tvllpit Very effective to  kids age of 5, 7, and 11 years old. Thank you for sharing your idea.

Thank you for

your question.  You are correct that we recommend setting up a structured

time for kids to do homework, yet not getting into a power struggle with them

if they refuse to do their work during that time.  It could be useful to

talk with your 11 year old about what makes it difficult to follow through with

doing homework at that time, and perhaps experimenting with doing homework at

another time to see if that works more effectively.  In the end, though,

if your child is simply refusing to do the work, then we recommend giving a

consequence and avoiding a power struggle.  Megan Devine details this

process more in her article, 

Please let us know if you have any additional questions.  Take care.

jovi916 I'm a mother to a 10 year old 5th grader. Since 3rd grade I've been struggling with homework. That first year, I thought it was just lack of consistency since my children go between mine and dad's house. I tried setting some sort of system up with More the teacher to get back on track, but the teacher said it was the child's responsibility to get the hw done. This year has been esp. Difficult. He stopped doing hw, got an F, so I got on him. He stared turning half done work, but same grades so I still got on him. Grades went up, I loosened up, then he stopped with in school work. Now it's back to not turning anything in, even big projects and presentations. He had never really been allowed to watch tv, but now it's a definite no, I took his Legos away, took him out of sports. Nothing is working. He's basically sitting at the table every night, and all weekend long in order to get caught up with missing assignments. I'm worried, and next year he'll be in middle school. I try setting an example by studying in front of him. My daughter just does her homework and gets good grades. Idk what to do.

I can hear your concern. Academic achievement is important

to most parents and when your children seem to be struggling to complete their

work and get good grades, it can be distressing. Ultimately, your childrens’

school work and grades are their responsibility. You shouldn’t have to quit

your own studies in order to help them improve theirs. The above article gives

some great tips for helping motivate your children to complete their homework.

We do have a couple other articles you may also find useful: & We appreciate you

writing in and hope you find the information useful. Take care.

RNM I have the exact same issues with my 8 year old. It makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. He's a smart kid, he just doesn't seem to care to do his homework let alone if he gets a bad grade as a result. He hates reading, but does More very well in spelling and science. Homework is an issue nightly and the teacher pulled me aside today to tell me again how much he talks in class and that now he isn't writing down his assignments and is missing 3 assignments this week. SMH, I don't know what to do anymore other than to coach him (some more) and take away basketball if he doesn't do his homework.

What?  "Let homework stay where it belongs—between the teacher and the student. Refuse to get pulled in by the school.."  I do not see the logic or benefit of this advice.  Homework, by definition, is the responsibility of the student and parent (NOT the teacher).  The teacher does not live at the student's home or run the house.  

In my opinion, the lack of parental involvement with academics often causes the low student performance evident across the U.S.  I do not agree with advocating for even LESS parental involvement.

I completely agree with you. Parental, or adult, engagement at home can be a deal-maker/breaker when it comes to student performance. I subscribe to theories that differ from the author's.

First, if an adult is involved with the child and his activities, then the child will commonly react with "hey, somebody cares about me" leading to an increased sense of self-worth. A sense of caring about one's-self leads to caring about grades and other socially acceptable behaviors (Maslow).

Secondly, I am a FIRM believer in the techniques of behavior modification through positive reinforcement (Karen Pryor). It's up to an invested adult to determine what motivates the student and use those motivators to shape and reinforce desirable behavior such as daily homework completion. A classroom teacher has too many students and too little time to apply this theory.

Letting a child sink or swim by himself is a bad idea. Children have only one childhood; there are no do-overs.

And yes, children are work.

Many experience similar feelings of being at fault when

their child fails, so, you’re not alone. Truth of the matter is, allowing your

child to experience natural consequences of their actions by allowing them to

fail gives them the opportunity to look at themselves and change their

behavior.  We have a couple articles I think you may find helpful: When You Should Let Your Child Fail: The Benefits of Natural Consequences & 5 Natural Consequences You Should Let Your Child Face . Good luck to you and

your family moving forward. Take care.

hao hao It is so true, we can't control our children's home. It is their responsibility. But they don't care it. What can we do it?


How great it is that you want to help your brother be more

productive with his homework. He’s lucky to have a sibling who cares about him

and wants him to be successful. Because we are a website aimed at helping

parents develop better ways of managing acting out behavior, we are limited in

the advice we can offer you as his sibling. There is a website that may be able

to offer you some suggestions.

is a website aimed at helping teens and young adults figure out ways of dealing

with challenges they may be facing in their lives. They offer several ways of

getting support, such as by e-mail or text, through an online forum and chat,

and also a call in helpline. You can check out what they have to offer at Good luck

to you and your family moving forward. Take care.

Kathleenann indusreepradeep

Thank you so much for your humble support....

It sounds like you have done a lot

of work to try to help your daughter achieve her educational goals, and it’s

normal to feel frustrated when she does not seem to be putting in the same

amount of effort.  It can be useful to keep your focus on whether your

daughter is doing her work, and to keep that separate from whether she “cares”

about doing her work.  Ultimately, it is up to your daughter to do her

work, regardless of how she appears to feel about it.  To that end, we

recommend working with the various local supports you have in place, such as

her therapists and others on her IEP team, to talk about what could be useful

to motivate your daughter to do her school work.  Because individuals with

autism can vary greatly with their abilities, it’s going to be more effective

to work closely with the professionals who are familiar with your daughter’s

strengths and level of functioning in order to develop a plan to address this

issue.  Thank you so much for writing in; we wish you and your daughter

all the best as you continue to address her difficulties with school. 

is there a blog for parents that went to Therapeutic boarding schooling for their adolescent?

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Defiant children who refuse to do homework: 30 tips for parents.

7th grader not doing homework

  • Your child doesn’t understand the work and needs some extra help. It’s possible that your youngster doesn’t want to do his homework because he really needs help.  Also, it can be challenging for moms and dads to accept that their youngster might need help with homework, because there is often a stigma attached to kids who need tutoring. 
  • Your child is addicted to TV and video games. Moms and dads often find it very difficult to limit these activities. But, understand that playing video games and watching TV doesn’t relax a youngster’s brain.  In fact, it actually over-stimulates the brain and makes it harder for him to learn and retain information.  Too much of watching TV and playing video games contributes to your youngster struggling with school and homework in more ways than one.
  • Your child is exhausted from a long day at school. In the last 10 to 20 years, the needs of kids have not changed, however the pace of life has.  Most moms and dads are busy and have very little down time, which inevitably means that the youngster ends up with less down time too.  He is going to be less likely to be motivated to work when there is chaos all around him.  
  • Your child is not sleeping enough. Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated needs in our society today. When a child doesn’t get enough sleep, it can cause him to be sick more often, lose focus, and have more emotional issues. Kids often need a great deal more sleep than they usually get.  
  • Your child is over-booked with other activities. Moms and dads want their youngster to develop skills other than academics. Because of this, they often sign-up their youngster for extracurricular activities (e.g., sports or arts).  
  • Your child is overwhelmed by your expectations. Moms and dads want their youngster to be well-rounded and to get ahead in life.  Along with this comes getting good grades.  All these expectations can put a lot of pressure on your youngster and may cause him to become burned-out and want to find an escape.
  • instructions are unclear
  • neither you nor your youngster can understand the purpose of assignments
  • the assignments are often too hard or too easy
  • the homework is assigned in uneven amounts
  • you can't provide needed supplies or materials 
  • you can't seem to help your youngster get organized to finish the assignments
  • your youngster has missed school and needs to make up assignments
  • your youngster refuses to do her assignments, even though you've tried hard to get her to do them
  • Do you understand what you're supposed to do?
  • What do you need to do to finish the assignment?
  • Do you need help in understanding how to do your work?
  • Have you ever done any problems like the ones you're supposed to do right now?
  • Do you have everything you need to do the assignment?
  • Does your answer make sense to you? 
  • Are you still having problems? Maybe it would help to take a break or have a snack.
  • Do you need to review your notes (or reread a chapter in your textbook) before you do the assignment? 
  • How far have you gotten on the assignment? Let's try to figure out where you're having a problem.

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clock This article was published more than  7 years ago

Parents of struggling middle-schooler: ‘Should we let her fail?’

7th grader not doing homework

Q. How can I help my seventh-grader be more responsible about her schoolwork? She is struggling in school but doesn’t help herself by seeking out what she needs to know, and low grades don’t seem to bother her. I’m getting a vibe from teachers that middle school is all about parents backing off and students taking the lead. But on her own, our daughter is disorganized, unfocused and ambivalent about the results of this behavior. Should we let her fail? (And by fail, I don’t mean an assignment . . . I mean FAIL fail, because that is a very real possibility at this point.)

A. There are a couple of key facts I am missing here. No. 1, I don’t know if this is a new phenomenon or if this has been going on a number of years. Second, I am guessing, since you don’t mention it, that she doesn’t have any known disabilities or diagnoses. Suffice it to say, before you do anything, make sure she has a thorough checkup. Are her eyes and ears okay? Is she physically ship-shape? Next, be sure she is doesn’t have any undiagnosed learning disabilities. So many “failing” children are seen as disorganized and unfocused, when really they are truly doing their absolute best to stay afloat.

And even if this is a new problem, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a disability or attention disorder underfoot. Some children scrape and fight through for quite a long while, creating elaborate coping strategies. And then they hit a wall.

Mom is afraid to give up friends whose daughters are mean

Seventh grade is also the year that many young women get their periods, wreaking hormonal and emotional havoc. I am wondering whether she is experiencing some physical and emotional changes that are feeling scary and big to her.

I also don’t know what “struggling in school” means. It is pretty well known that American children are dealing with unneeded homework stress, and the country and educational system don’t really understand what homework does or doesn’t do (and we stick with what we know, effective or not). So, as we shuffle along, our children are developing some serious anxiety and depression problems.

On to your biggest parenting question: “Should we let her fail?” I have been writing long enough now to know that this is going to make people angry, but here goes: It depends.

You can find studies to support the importance of failure. (I have given a couple of talks on it myself.) You can find others about the damage that failure can inflict on children. I suggest skipping these articles and figuring out your own daughter.

If we remove the reductionist nature of grades and schoolwork, what is the real problem here? Why doesn’t your daughter care about her schoolwork? There is nothing you can do until you answer this question. And I get it. That is completely maddening. Nothing would make me happier than giving you some pat, easy 1-2-3 answer.

In lieu of that, here are some questions that I always wonder when a child appears to not care about her work:

A tween impervious to the stink-eye

•Have you hassled, nagged, helicoptered, bothered, sat directly next to her, forced, bribed or punished her throughout her academic career? If the answer is a moderate to strong “yes,” you may have raised a child who is dependent on you to organize herself, complete her work, find her motivation. Essentially, the natural developmental drive to complete tasks has been stifled. You have a 5-year-old in a 12-year-old’s body. And if you read this and go into some kind of guilt trip or panic, let me assure you that you are not alone. Well-meaning teachers are expected to assign kindergarten students homework well before it is developmentally appropriate. This requires parents to sit next to their children and begin the cajoling and mentoring and, essentially, tutoring. One year turns to two turns to three, and poof! You’ve got a bad habit. Trust me, I have yet to meet a parent who wakes up and says, “How can I undermine my child’s learning today?” But parental over-involvement in homework handicaps children.

•You haven’t helicoptered (that’s a verb now, huh?) her work, but have you gone out of your way to prevent her from experiencing the consequences of her work (or lack thereof)? Have you run every forgotten assignment to her at school? Have you packed her backpack every morning? Have you written excuses to the teachers when they were not warranted? If so, you have not allowed your daughter to struggle, find a solution, give up, seek help at school or feel the sting of failure or the joy of success. If you leave her to her own devices now, she doesn’t have any devices. She doesn’t have any experience, self-esteem or resilience to rely upon when the going gets tough.

•How is failure viewed in your home? Have you let her know that you will support her, love her, accept her no matter what? Have you let her know that her homework is but one small aspect of her life? Is the message that failure is dire? (It is not). If failure is avoided and feared in a family, the children will either become perfectionists and anxious, or they will withdraw completely. Abdicate. Failure is so uncomfortable, it cannot be faced. What if the parents didn’t worry about failure? What if you said to her, “Hey, no matter what, I believe in you and I love you. If you fail, then we learn what needs to happen. We have your back. We are all in this together.” What if failure were welcomed?

•Is this child in danger? Depressed? Being bullied? Feeling unsafe at home or in school? So many of the behaviors of tweens and teens don’t clearly point to the actual problem. This necessitates that we become strong and compassionate listeners. We want to know about her interior world and how she is coping and maturing.

•Will this failure push her into a place of anger and deeper depression? Will she feel abandoned? Will this failure lead to a deep fracture in your relationship with her?

I hope that these questions lead you to a place of deeper understanding, whether that understanding is about yourself, your child or your entire family. I cannot answer your real question: “Should we let her fail?”

Try changing the question to “What is this scenario really about? How can I best understand, support and love my daughter in this scenario?”

Keep it simple, keep it kind and keep it easy (or as easy as you can).

More from On Parenting :

How to help middle schoolers living in a sometimes scary place

Preparing for haircuts when your child has special needs

The smart economics of Norway’s parental leave, and why the U.S. should consider it

Also at Read a transcript of a recent live Q&A with Leahy at , where you can also find past columns. Her next chat is scheduled for Jan. 21.

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8 Tips to Help Your Middle Schooler With Homework


As a middle school educator, I often think back to my time as a sixth, seventh, or eighth grader and remember the things that were most challenging and rewarding about those years. One of the things that fell squarely into the “challenging” category was the conflict I had with my parents as I worked to complete my nightly homework.

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Now that I have spent more than a decade as a teacher and principal at Friends’ Central Middle School , I see homework completion from a very different perspective. Drawing on my own memories and my professional experience, here are some simple tips for helping your middle school-aged child with homework. The objectives of these tips are to reduce conflict and empower children with their learning throughout high school and beyond:

8 Homework Tips for Middle School Parents

1. eliminate distractions.

Enough said! No loud music, texting, social media, video games, or watching TV/videos during study times. There is a multitude of research on our inability to truly multitask. One of the best things we can do for our children is to model this and enforce putting aside distractions (including our own phones, for example) when doing important work.

2. Never Take the Reins

When faced with a difficult assignment that your child is working on, it can be tempting to physically take the paper or computer from your child to help complete the work, to proofread, or more. Resist this urge! By all means sit next to your child and join, but taking the paper or computer dis-empowers and sends the wrong message to the child about who is ultimately responsible for the work.

3. Ask Questions, Avoid Directives

Instead of telling your child how to do an assignment or interpreting the assignment yourself, ask your child encouraging, productive questions.

For example, “Read the assignment aloud to me. What do you think the assignment is asking you to do or show? What are the requirements that we should keep in mind before you begin? What resources do you have that will enable you to complete this work?”

4. Don’t Fall for “I Don’t Know” or “I Can’t Do This”

Many middle schoolers will throw up their hands with an “I don’t know” or “I can’t do this” when approaching homework assignments, particularly when material is new or difficult. These phrases are reflexes for some students but are more about emotions than ability. They are really saying: “This is hard” or “I'm not sure where to start” or “I don’t feel confident” or “I don’t want to.”

Resist becoming drawn into your child's emotions and redirect away from the discomfort or uncertainty. Try “Let's start with what you know” or “What could help you figure this out?” Resources could range from class notes to doing a Google search to calling a classmate. By redirecting your child’s emotional energy, we teach children to be resourceful instead of shutting down.

5. Know When to Stop

There comes a point where a child’s confusion, frustration, and/or exhaustion is counterproductive. If your child truly works on an assignment for a solid 30-45 minutes and cannot make progress, it’s time to stop. There isn’t going to be meaningful learning if your child reaches a point of profound frustration or exhaustion.

At this point, encourage your child to meet with the teacher the following day for some clarification or assistance. You could even notify the teacher that your child wasn’t able to complete the assignment and will be seeking help.

6. Asking for Help is a Life Skill

If your child needs additional help, work with him or her to plan how to ask for assistance from the teacher. Many students perceive an incomplete homework assignment as giving up or as failure, and others do not know what to ask when they meet with the teacher.

Self-advocacy is among the most important life skills for any student to learn, especially during the Middle School years. We can set students up for success by reframing asking for help as the opposite of “giving up” and by teaching them how to most effectively as for help.

7. How Do You Solve a Problem Like... Math

It’s tempting as a parent to teach your child how to do a math problem the way you remember being taught or the way that comes most easily to you. Be careful, your “tricks” or methods could be helpful, but they could also compound any confusion. There may be a good reason why a teacher is teaching a particular method to solve a problem, such as laying the foundation for the next concept. If you want to give your child another method, let your child’s teacher know so you can work together without causing additional confusion.

8. Say it (A)loud

If your child is having difficulty with a reading assignment, read it aloud together or separately and then ask questions to help with reading comprehension. It’s tempting to give a plot summary, but that will not help your child develop those skills.

Likewise, the best way to help your child with writing is to read it aloud. Proofreading aloud helps the writer slow down enough to hear (and/or see) grammatical or structural errors. It reveals where one thought ends and the next begins, necessitating punctuation.

Finally, reading aloud helps your child to hear whether the ideas are connected and organized. I’ve had many parents and students tell me that proofreading aloud is the simplest and most effective tool they ever learned for improving writing.

Help Your Child Succeed in Middle School

I hope these simple tips will enable you to eliminate some of the “hot spots” when it comes to homework. Hands on or hands off, there's no right or wrong way to help your child. Just stick with the idea that over the course of each subsequent grade level, your support should be designed to require an increasing amount of self-direction, independence, and self-advocacy on the part of your child. In this way, you are empowering them to master material while forming learning habits that will endure beyond the classroom and the middle school years.

-Alexa Quinn, Middle School Principal

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