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Homework, Grades, and Consequences

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I want to know if we are being too hard on our daughter about homework, grades, and consequences. She is twelve and in the sixth grade. Let me first describe our routine and rules, etc. Then I will describe how that is not working. First, when it comes to grades, she is expected to get C's. The consequence for not having C's is loss of privileges (which is telephone, TV, computer use, and video games), which also means, no outings or activities on the weekends (school party, movie theater, etc.). C's are rewarded with going out on the weekends and doing something fun. Homework must get done every day before she may have privileges. A's and B's are rewarded with a small prize or going out for ice cream. Her school is pretty good when it comes to academics, they really help the kids acheive their best, and they get multiple chances to correct wrong answers, turn in missing assigments late, etc.

 

The problem is that every night is a battle with getting her to do her homework. She lays on the floor of the kitchen or living room, singing, whistling, playing with the dog or cat, basically procrastinating in every way possible and trying to annoy us too. We are doing dishes, making dinner, doing things around the house, paying bills. My husband and I both work full time jobs. We finally bought her a desk and told her to go do her homework in her room. When it's time for us to sit down and relax a bit, maybe read a book or the paper, she wants help with her homework, you explain the assignment to her, she fishes around to try to get you to give her the answer and wants YOU to look up a word in the dictionary, etc. She carries on about how she doesn't understand the assignment when I have spoken to her teachers who have said that they have explained the assignment over and over very clearly and there are also clear written instructions. So now she is mad and doesn't want to do it, says she'll "save it" for tomorrow, do it during recess, which never happens. So she tries to watch TV and is sent to her room, she slams the door. Now she grounded to her room for the rest of the night, homework never gets done.

 

She has D's and F's and not getting to go anywhere on the weekends or see her friends is no problem for her for some reason. I keep telling her I want to go do this or that with her, but it doesn't seem to motivate her at all. We are getting a sitter so we can go out by ourselves, and tell her maybe next time she can go with us if she gets her grades up. One weekend she did get up to C's and we took her roller skating. But now they have fallen down to D's again. Her teachers are available for tutoring before and after school. We even went together before school and her teacher gave her extra credit to get her grade back up but she didn't do it.

 

What are some good consequences that have worked? Are we approaching this the wrong way? Why doesn't she seem motivated? How long will it take before she "get's it"? How long before she realizes that we are not going to give in? She has been at this school for 2 months now.

post #2 of 30

Have you considered a private tutor for her? Someone experienced to sit next to her for a bit? She might benefit from some specialized academic attention and you all might benefit from having someone else handle the homework issues at least once or twice a week. 

 

Rewards are good for kids who need to get over a personal hurdle but it only works in the short term. Appropriate consequences for a child suddenly making poor choices can get their attention and turn them around. However, if this is a long term problem, I'd be cautious. I'm not saying she should get free reign when she's not doing her part but I'd be careful not to let this be a power struggle for which she chooses to isolate herself from the family just to "win." Make sure you are still connecting with her, still doing fun things with her as a family. If she has something she loves to do, don't take that away. You can't teach self-motivation by taking away the activities she's actually most motivated to do. Spending time with her can't be a reward... it's just family. You don't have to go rollerskating of course, but make sure you're still cooking with her, playing games on the weekends, talking about books, ect.

 

How does your DD feel about school in general? You don't mention if this is a new problem or not. Have you been having other issues related to puberty, hormones, ect?

 

I do feel for you. I grew up in a house where every night was a battle to get my little brother to do his homework. He's an extreme case and I don't think sharing that scenario with help you but I do understand the stress it puts on a family. I'm grateful not to have these issues with my kids because I really don't think I could live through it again!

post #3 of 30

 

Is this new behaviour? Has she always completed homework and assignments without protest or a lot of help before? If she was conscientious about homework previously, I'd search for the underlying reasons for this new resistance. Did she want to switch to this new school? Are there other relationship issues bothering her? Some of what you describe sounds like attention-seeking behaviour and some of it sounds like a power/control issue. 

 

I would hesitate about isolating her from the rest of the family by sending her to her room to work and leaving her at home while you go on family expeditions. Until they were in high school, my dc did most of their work at the dining room table or on the computer, which is also in the family area. DS started working in his room in 11th grade. DD is in 10th grade and still does her work at the dining table, even though she has a desk in her room. Although, come to think of it, it's probably because her desk is buried under a pile of clothes and teen crap ;-).  

 

If this is a continuation of her typical attitude toward homework, and it's been going on for years, then I'd re-assess the whole punishment/reward system that you have been using. Clearly the punishments and rewards are not effective, since they aren't delivering the results you want. They are not making the situation any better and probably making it worse by contributing to resentment and hard feelings. 

 

12 y.o. can be such a tough age. Is there something in her life that is a positive focus? An extracurricular activity like sport or music or drama or art or volunteer work? I'm just wondering where she's getting positive input these days, since it doesn't sound like it is happening at school. If there is nothing, then maybe something along those lines will improve the situation a little. 

 

 

 

 

 

post #4 of 30

I can tell you that in our family, homework gets done at the dining room table while I am cooking dinner.  My middle schooler benefits from that structure-sending her to her room for homework would mean no homework got completed.  Only reading is done in the bedroom-we've just found that this works better.

 

I too wonder if this is new behavior, or something she's struggled with.  A few thoughts come to mind.  For some kids, they are done by the end of the school day and have little mental energy for organizing themselves to complete academic tasks.  Your description of issues with work at home, and at school, make me wonder if you have thought of testing for an LD or ADD issues.  Executive function issues such as lack of organization, lack of follow through on assignments, being overwhelmed with work, requiring the constant input/support of an adult to provide structure for getting work done--this would raise red flags for me.

 

She's also at an age when school becomes, in part, focused more on becoming aware of your own learning needs/style, and becoming responsible for yourself and your needs.  It's a process that hopefully culminates in a child with an organizational skill set upon entering high school.  This may be the time to sit down with the teacher and guidance/psychologist and hash out what you are seeing, what they are seeing, and develop a plan for where she needs to be, and how you'll get there.

 

I know w/my dd, having the constant threat of losing activities, etc based on grades, would be too much pressure.  Her not seeming to be impacted by the loss of privileges may mean that she sees the situation as hopeless, or beyond her control, or that she's simply not invested in the situation.  Something isn't working in her situation, but it doesn't sound like she has the skills to understand or fix it.

post #5 of 30
My first question would be whether she's really just having trouble understanding what to do, despite having it explained to her and having it in writing. She could need a tutor or have a learning disability or something. I wouldn't assume the worst - that she's just lazy and unmotivated - without investigating other possibilities.

And then I'd try to work within a connective environment with her, and I'm afraid not letting her do family things with you and making her be alone might hurt rather than help. She is not at this moment internally motivated, and disconnection with you is not creating motivation, so maybe being more connected to you when she knows school is important to you would work better. Rewards and punishments like you've used are also not creating motivation for her, so maybe focusing on internal motivation instead of external would help. What are her interests? Maybe taking her to see things created by people who have advanced education in whatever interests her would help her decide education is worthwhile to her.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lulahigley View Post

 She carries on about how she doesn't understand the assignment when I have spoken to her teachers who have said that they have explained the assignment over and over very clearly and there are also clear written instructions.


Has your DD ever been assessed for LD's or special needs? One of my kids is complex little package, but one of her issues is "processing speed."  She often didn't understand assignments even when all the other kids did understand what the teachers wanted. She had accommodations at school which included one period a day with the special education teacher, partly because of this. She had extra time for assignments and when there was an issue with her not understand what was required, the special education teacher and the regular teacher communicated and then my DD got the extra help she needed.  "Communication" had its own subsection on her 504 Plan.

 

Your assumption throughout your post is that she just isn't trying hard enough, but having seen some of the same behaviors in my own DD, who has a long list of labels, I can't help but wonder if there is more going on and your DD truly is doing the best she can right now.

 

There are some kids who can slide through school until about middle school and then the sh*t hits the fan. They were barely holding it together before, but as the expectations for kids their age goes up, they cannot cope.

 

Punishments, bribes and rewards had zero impact on my DD. I don't really believe them but we reached a point of being reading to try ANYTHING.

 

My advice would be to go through the evaluation process and see what you can find out about her. This can be done through the school (request made in writing, ask on the special needs board for more details) or privately if you have good insurance.

 

I also agree about hiring a tutor to stop this being a relationship issue between you guys, and to stop punishing her by isolating her. Depression isn't uncommon at this age, esp for kids with even very mild special needs, and she needs you guys. She needs to have fun with her family while you sort out why she is failing at school.

post #7 of 30

Also just wanted to add it could be an attention thing.  When I'm doing my own thing on my own perfect schedule... and I expect things to go by that schedule otherwise it's a nuisance... it doesn't bode well with the littles.  Sometimes homework has to wait because they have their need for out attention.  Help me do my homework can mean a few things.  Be with me, I just don't get it and even I don't want to do it. 

post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 

Yes, we still have family movie nights and hang out together on the weekends, I'm not saying she grounded to her room 24/7, but when are trying to help her understand her homework, and she cops an attitude and refuses to try, then I think it's only fair that privileges get taken away. I don't know what else to do. We'd like her to do her homework at the dining table, but she is laying on the floor of the kitchen, getting in the way of me cooking dinner, teasing the cat, doing anything BUT sitting in the chair doing homework. She just keeps asking for the answers. That's why we put a desk in her room because everything else that is going on in the house is a distraction to her. For Ollyoxenfree, she is enrolled in cheer one night a week which she really enjoys. We try to be role models in that we get our responsibilities done before we sit down to watch tv. As soon as we get home from work, we do the dishes, make dinner, feed the pets, take out the trash, pay bills, etc. Just thinking that's the way real life works for successful people, it's not too much to expect the same from her. I agree with her wanting attention, she is very good at attention seeking behaviors. I guess I was just thinking that AFTER she got her homework done, we could hang out and play a game or something. When she wants to she can really focus and get it done. I don't think it's an ADHD issue at all. There have been times when she has knocked out her homework when she feels motivated. And plenty of other things that capture her attention for hours. She has been evaluated by a psychologist for ADHD and they determined she didn't have it. So what now? What are some ideas, consequences, motivators, etc. that we could try. I agree that isolation is not the best approach but I am at my wits end. She tries to interfere with what I need to get done. She has about an hour and a half after school to play before she needs to get started on her homework. Thanks for your support and suggestions!

post #9 of 30

When you have things you need to get done out of the way, can you sit with her while she does her homework?  Maybe lay on her bed while she's at her desk and read a book.  Cause it sounds like you need to take a break too.  I notice my littles tend to get more done when I'm with them.  It's like they don't want to miss anything.  Just an idea worth trying for one night.

post #10 of 30

What did the psychologist suggest after there was a finding of no ADHD?  I'm guessing that something prompted the eval, possibly issues similar to what you are seeing now?  D's and F's are a big deal, if that is a course grade-not sure if that's the case here or not.  Either way, diagnosed or not, your dd does not seem managing the academic expectations of her grade.  Has she made use of the tutoring?  What do her teachers see at school?

 

Is it just the homework as an issue, or is there more?

 

post #11 of 30

Maybe she'd do better going straight into her homework after school instead of taking the 1.5 hour break. My own kids just grab a snack and go to work on the days they don't have activities. Otherwise, they loose momentum and having to go BACK to school work after a break is too depressing. Who is with her after school since you guys both work? I know she's 12 and so doesn't need a sitter but perhaps a tutor during this time would be beneficial... even a college student might do.

 

Did she just turn 12? Since she's been evaluated, I'm guessing there have been issues in the past. Was an ability test done on her during this time? She's on the old side for her grade so she shouldn't really be struggling with the material unless there is a learning disability present. Is it just the homework bringing down her grades or is her classwork a struggle too (like is she passing tests easily enough but failing because she's not turning anything in.)

 

post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

Maybe she'd do better going straight into her homework after school instead of taking the 1.5 hour break. My own kids just grab a snack and go to work on the days they don't have activities. Otherwise, they loose momentum and having to go BACK to school work after a break is too depressing. Who is with her after school since you guys both work? I know she's 12 and so doesn't need a sitter but perhaps a tutor during this time would be beneficial... even a college student might do.

 

 


This is what my middle schoolers do. As soon as they get through the door, they sit at the dinning table and pull out their homework, I hand them a snack, and they work through until they are done. They both have after school activities three days a week, so for those days they do homework as soon as they get home afterwards, these night they eat their dinner while doing their work, so family dinners are few are far between.

 

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 

We both work until 5, she gets off school at 3:15 and stays at the school for after school program. There is a study room there that the kids can use, and some of the teachers stay after on certain days to offer help. BUT she won't use those things. She does the other activities there. Even if I remind her in the morning, she always "forgets".

post #14 of 30


Ok... I'd be pissed!  Sorry I was all for trying to help her out.  But that is just ridiculous.  She has a place she can use with help there... and she won't use it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lulahigley View Post

We both work until 5, she gets off school at 3:15 and stays at the school for after school program. There is a study room there that the kids can use, and some of the teachers stay after on certain days to offer help. BUT she won't use those things. She does the other activities there. Even if I remind her in the morning, she always "forgets".



 

post #15 of 30

natural consequence... she gets to do that grade over.  Ask her how that sounds.

post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lulahigley View Post

We both work until 5, she gets off school at 3:15 and stays at the school for after school program. There is a study room there that the kids can use, and some of the teachers stay after on certain days to offer help. BUT she won't use those things. She does the other activities there. Even if I remind her in the morning, she always "forgets".



Have you talked to the after school program directors? Our district middle school after program (6th through 8th grades) require ALLparticipating students to do homework for 45 minutes. They don't even start the fun activities until that period is done. Perhaps you can talk to the staff and make it a requirement that she work in the study room until 4 each day. That still gives her an hour of play time. 

post #17 of 30

What's missing for me is two things:

1. Connection time before homework

2. A clear assessment of whether she is actually understanding the work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lulahigley View Post

. We try to be role models in that we get our responsibilities done before we sit down to watch tv. As soon as we get home from work, we do the dishes, make dinner, feed the pets, take out the trash, pay bills, etc. Just thinking that's the way real life works for successful people, it's not too much to expect the same from her. I agree with her wanting attention, she is very good at attention seeking behaviors. I guess I was just thinking that AFTER she got her homework done, we could hang out and play a game or something. When she wants to she can really focus and get it done.


Let me throw out a different point of view:

After school, she has to go spend 1.5 hours in aftercare, where she wants to spend time doing activities that are fun. She may actually NEED to spend this time doing activities after having been largely sedentary all day at school. She then comes home from school, and instead of being able to be part of the family, she gets sent up to her room to do her homework, while the parents focus on chores. To me, this might be giving her the impression that chores and bills are more important to you than she is. I'm sure that's not true, but that's what your actions are saying. (FWIW, my parents were sometimes like this and it always made me feel awful.)

 

I'd also question the premise that 'successful people' always get the chores, etc. out of the way before tending to relationships. In fact, I might even argue that if this is what's happening, those 'successful' people have lives that are out of balance. I am a WOH, I understand the myriad of things that need to be done to make the house run, and how little time there is after a long day's work. I also know that we pay bills, do the dishes, and a lot of other things after the kids are in bed.

 

An example: When I grew up, after family trips, my parents would always spend the first 3-5 hours after we got home cleaning up the tent trailer, unpacking, doing laundry, etc. etc. Unfortunately, both of them were exhausted and ill-tempered. I  hated the days we came home from vacations for that very reason. Then I got married. My husband came home from vacation, deposited the suitcases in the hall, and did other things. I tried to keep up my parents' pattern and got cranky and angry. Then I realized that maybe there was method in my husband's approach. In the few days things would get unpacked. It was much less stressful. No, not nearly as efficient, but we weren't sniping at each other, and we actually enjoyed some of that time.

 

Another thought that I had is that maybe your expectations aren't high enough. What does she do to help (meaningfully) around the house? Our kids do some of the chores with us. So, on garbage night, we all do garbage together. On other nights, one child will vacuum the living room, while I help pick up stuff on the floor. Or one child will start a load of laundry while I clean the sink. We're all occupied at this time.) Right now, your relationship with your daughter needs some major tending before it slips away from you. So, one suggestion would be: Actively involve your daughter in making dinner. If she's not going to do her homework anyway during this time, it would be a great time to connect over cooking. She's old enough to cook. I started cooking full meals for the family at 10-11.

 

Then, after dinner, sit down with her and do the homework. Grab a magazine or a newspaper and sit next to her. Explain to her that you'll help with directions and strategies, but that you won't give her the answers. If she gets done in a reasonable amount of time, then do something together, even if it's just watch a TV show or take the dog for a walk.

 

Clearly isolating her and taking away rewards don't motivate her. You've also said that she's a great at 'attention seeking behavior'. Kids do that when they're feeling a lack of attention. ANY attention (even negative like she's getting now) is better than no attention (which is what she gets when she goes up to her room.) Her behavior says to me "I need attention before I can focus on homework". Taking away that attention hasn't worked. What about adding it in before?

 

I'd actually be quite honest with her: "Hon, what we're doing with homework isn't working, is it?" "no." "What do you think would help?" "I dunno". "Well, one thought would be that you could be with us while we make dinner and actually learn to cook, and then after dinner, I'll have some time to sit down with you while you do it. What do you think of that?"

 

My kids, can't do homework right away after school. They NEED decompression time. That's especially true for our son, who's a major introvert. He won't even go out and play with the neighborhood kids. He'll have a snack, play some Wii for 30-40 minutes, and then cheerfully do his homework. Because he gets it done, I don't see any reason to change that pattern. I guess my point is that you don't know what pattern will work for your daughter. If she's an introvert, she may need to chill after being with people. if she's more of an extrovert, she may need to connect with you first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

Have you considered a private tutor for her? Someone experienced to sit next to her for a bit? She might benefit from some specialized academic attention and you all might benefit from having someone else handle the homework issues at least once or twice a week. 

 

Rewards are good for kids who need to get over a personal hurdle but it only works in the short term. Appropriate consequences for a child suddenly making poor choices can get their attention and turn them around. However, if this is a long term problem, I'd be cautious.



I agree on both counts. If she's getting Ds and Fs, she may well missing some content knowledge (even if it was due to failure to do homework), and might really not be able to do the work. While the teachers may well have explained it fully, that doesn't guarantee she understood it, or that she was even paying attention when they gave the explanations. The book "The Myth of Laziness" might be worth reading - a lot of kids who have mild learning issues are dubbed lazy. As others have suggested, have her tested for learning disabilities might be worth while. You need to rule that out before you assume that she's lazy/unmotivated.
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lulahigley View Post

We both work until 5, she gets off school at 3:15 and stays at the school for after school program. There is a study room there that the kids can use, and some of the teachers stay after on certain days to offer help. BUT she won't use those things. She does the other activities there. Even if I remind her in the morning, she always "forgets".



I agree with whatsnextmom: If you need her to do homework at the after school program, then it needs to be part of the program. No 6th grader is going to choose to do homework over having fun with other kids. Certainly no 6th grader is going to admit to others that she doesn't get it or isn't doing well. Our son was in an after school program (mainly for the fun stuff), but all students had to have one 'period' (40 min) of 'study hall'. Students who were having academic difficulties had one 'study hall' and one academic class and one fun class.

 

Finally, does she show any signs of depression?


Edited by LynnS6 - 10/6/11 at 7:51pm
post #18 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by karne View Post

What did the psychologist suggest after there was a finding of no ADHD?  I'm guessing that something prompted the eval, possibly issues similar to what you are seeing now?  D's and F's are a big deal, if that is a course grade-not sure if that's the case here or not.  Either way, diagnosed or not, your dd does not seem managing the academic expectations of her grade.  Has she made use of the tutoring?  What do her teachers see at school?

 

Is it just the homework as an issue, or is there more?

 

 

I'm really wondering about this as well. Lots of kids have issues that aren't ADHD. Something in this whole story doesn't add up. Have you talked to her teachers about what is going on? About what they see in class?

 

She honestly sounds like a candidate to me for a full neuro psychological evaluation.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post


After school, she has to go spend 1.5 hours in aftercare, where she wants to spend time doing activities that are fun. She may actually NEED to spend this time doing activities after having been largely sedentary all day at school.


I agree. After school care is NOT down time. My kids need down time before tackling home work.

 

 

 

post #19 of 30
Thread Starter 

Whatsnextmom: yes we have talked with the after school program director and he says that they do 30 min of homework time, but clearly she is not doing anything in that 30 minutes or they have too many kids to keep an eye on, I don't know.

 

LynnS6: We tried taking the pressure off homework before though, we would talk about our day, take the dog down to the mailboxes to check the mail, let her start her homework when she's ready and she would, all on her own, then 6 turns into 7 and into 8 and the next thing you know, it's 8:30 and the homework is still not done and it's time to get ready for bed. Now she is wanting help with her homework and is whining and giving up. She has chores, Mondays she cleans her bathroom and Thursdays she cleans her room.

 

I am beyond frustrated with her. When it comes to bedtime, the rules has always been the same, if you go to bed late, you go to bed early the next night as a consequence. Well, just the other night, she was mad about not finishing her homework and getting privileges taken away, so she stormed off to her room and we gave her some space. 9 is bedtime and bedtime is lights out, in bed, but if she can't sleep, she have her reading light on and read. Well, she didn't turn out her light and say goodnight until 9:30 and so the next my husband told her at 8:30 to take a shower and start getting ready for bed. She said NO! and said I'm not going to! And proceeded to argue about she fell asleep with the lights on... She said this a few times, now it becomes an argument about what bedtime means and the consequences. So we told her she would be grounded if she did not do as she was told. She eventually took a shower but didn't make to bed until 9:15. I am so frustrated with her attitude and defiancy.

post #20 of 30
I don't see how it's valuable to create that big an issue over a half-hour change in when her lights are out. That sounds controlling just to be controlling to me.

There are learning disorders other than ADHD. There are tons of them. If she's frustrated over school work because of a learning disability, nothing is going to get her to do it and do well other than finding out if there is one and what it is. It doesn't sound like you've really looked into this very hard, other than looking at ADHD.

But overall her environment sounds a bit controlling and punitive and she could just be fighting against that. Becoming more controlling isn't going to solve that - it'll just make her pull away harder - and the ways she can pull away will get worse and scarier as she gets older. I would back way down on the control and connect with her more so she wants to fight against you less. You should be on the same team.
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