Do you agree with taking away video games and computer for not turning in homework assignments for 14 year old boy? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 14 year old got his xbox and computer games taken away from him at the end of the last school year because he didn't turn in some school assignments and was failing a class. I felt that the games were getting in the way. He started out doing the same thing again this school year. I talked to him in a calm and concerned voice, about how important it is for him to turn in his work and tried to get him to explain to me why he's not doing his work. I told him that I was sorry, but that I was going to have to take away the games for the rest of the semester. He seemed to take the punishment well. I guess he realized how he brought it on to himself, but he wasn't happy about it of course.   I do see how he's miserable everyday after school for not being able to play his games. After reading articles about not punishing your kids, it's made me wonder if i'm doing the right thing here.

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#2 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 08:37 AM
 
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Yes, I agree with your approach, but I might have picked a shorter window than a semester to start with, say, a week or two and then re-evaluate. For one, video games and TV are addictive and made to be that way, so I have no problem with helping my kids moderate their use. We have certain times for TV during the week - it's generally not on until after dinner,  both during the school year and the summer. (I'm using that example because we don't play games much.) Don't get me wrong, we are not super-restrictive in that regard: we all watch TV, movies, use the computer for fun (and I use it for work), DD1 uses her phone for Instagram and texting. Our rule of thumb is that if it's not interfering with getting outside, exercising, seeing friends & family, being creative, reading, etc. then we're OK with the level of use. We do homework first, but my kids do well with that approach, whereas maybe your son needs some downtime before starting homework? Maybe you can agree on some other short activity, then homework, then games to the extent you think is OK?

 

Also, although I know consistency is good, if I had imposed a semester ban and then thought it was too harsh/long, I would find it perfectly OK to tell my child that I thought I made a mistake, make it shorter & strategize about making the homework situation better (is it the place, the time, the atmosphere, difficulty, etc. that is making it hard to get the work done?) & then see how it goes/re-evaluate again if need be.

 

Good luck with this! DD1 is just 13, so I am fairly newly the parent of a teen & it's crazy sometimes.

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#3 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 08:41 AM
 
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I use a similar approach but its more of a day to day thing.  The rule in our house is "no electronics until homework is finished" (excepting the computer when needed to do homework, which is getting more and more frequent for both by 10 YO and 14 YO).  If that rule is broken, then there is no electronics for the next 24 hours and/or until all the work is caught up.  Even for teachers who don't take late work I require the assignment completed before they are allowed electronics again. 

 

For me, the electronics are a distraction and a temptation -- learning to ignore the fun until the work is done is an important skill, IMHO.  So if they can't ignore the electronics, then I will remove the temptation for a short time to make it easier.

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#4 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 08:46 AM
 
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Yep, I agree. We had to take electronics away from my eldest when she was 14. It turned her around pretty quick. We haven't had any issues since.

 

I do think a whole semester might work against you though. Sometimes it's better to go week by week. OK, everything was in this week... you get your games back over the weekends. A few weeks with everything in, great, let's give the stuff back full-time and see if you've gotten better at self-regulating. If he get's his stuff back and the homework drops again, well, take it away and start the process again. He needs the opportunity to learn how to balance his life and he can't do that if you strip everything away for months.


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#5 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 09:19 AM
 
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Yep, I agree. We had to take electronics away from my eldest when she was 14. It turned her around pretty quick. We haven't had any issues since.

 

I do think a whole semester might work against you though. Sometimes it's better to go week by week. OK, everything was in this week... you get your games back over the weekends. A few weeks with everything in, great, let's give the stuff back full-time and see if you've gotten better at self-regulating. If he get's his stuff back and the homework drops again, well, take it away and start the process again. He needs the opportunity to learn how to balance his life and he can't do that if you strip everything away for months.

I agree with this. You said it very well.


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#6 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 10:06 AM
 
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I am going to disagree with the majority here. I would not have taken away the computer games. I expect my teens to take responsibility for their actions. Not handing in assignments has consequences with the school and they need to accept that. Learning to manage their time and meeting commitments is important, they won't always have a parent around to police them, they need to learn this discipline themselves. 

 

My 13 DS, does, on occasion, have missing assignments, for which I am always notified by the school via email. When I receive a notice, I mention it to him, and generally he tells me either he knows and will do it, or the has already turned in the homework (there is often a delay in reporting missed assignments). For the most part the reason a piece of homework hasn't been done is because he didn't have time - he is an elite soccer player and practices five times a week, not getting home until almost 9 at night. He gets home from school at 4 and we have to leave for practice at 5. He does spend more time than I would like on his ipod though.

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#7 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 01:40 PM
 
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I am going to disagree with the majority here. I would not have taken away the computer games. I expect my teens to take responsibility for their actions. Not handing in assignments has consequences with the school and they need to accept that. Learning to manage their time and meeting commitments is important, they won't always have a parent around to police them, they need to learn this discipline themselves. 

 

My 13 DS, does, on occasion, have missing assignments, for which I am always notified by the school via email. When I receive a notice, I mention it to him, and generally he tells me either he knows and will do it, or the has already turned in the homework (there is often a delay in reporting missed assignments). For the most part the reason a piece of homework hasn't been done is because he didn't have time - he is an elite soccer player and practices five times a week, not getting home until almost 9 at night. He gets home from school at 4 and we have to leave for practice at 5. He does spend more time than I would like on his ipod though.

 

Well, if your son is in school and elite soccer 5 times a week until 9.... then really, there is no self-management happening. His schedule is being dictated by teachers and coaches, not by himself. If he's not getting his assignments in, then the few moments he has to manage, aren't being managed. If he truly doesn't have time for the work, well, then sports are being prioritized over school and that is a choice that the family has made. That's not what I'd consider self-regulating at all. This isn't an attack on your lifestyle. I've got busy kids too. I just know from experience that busy kids may not be getting in trouble, but they aren't necessarily learning self-management. They don't have TIME for self-management. When my eldest was in middle school, she was working in theatre an average of 20 hours a week outside of a hefty honors school schedule, Girl Scouts and Orchestra. There were no time for distractions. She got to high school, pulled out of non-theatre activities to focus on school, found that she really didn't know how to self-regulate when actual FREE time was an option (and gosh, free time is delicious when you haven't had enough for a couple years.) This is a real common problem with high-achievers when they head out to college.

 

I actually think my DS 12 has a better handle on it. He has several activities but they require lots of self-study and practice time and little scheduled, adult-supervised time. His self-control and ability to CHOOSE to do homework or practice his instruments or do his karate work-out when the option to play video games or futz around on the computer is what I find impressive. It's something he had to learn... 6th grade was when he needed some guidance but now in 8th, he seems to have it down. I suspect, like most teens in this age, he'll get a little older and make his mistakes so I'm no stamping him with "DONE" yet lol.

 

The real tech problems tend to hit from 14-15. Before then, you are dealing with video games and TV, maybe an i-pod. Come high school, you start dealing more with other kids texting yours at 2am every morning. Most of their work requires a computer but they all think they are better at multi-tasking than they are and so they facebook and twitter and watch youtube while they are supposedly working in the evenings. The school consequences vary from being not enough to change behavior to being so high that there is no recovery and kids give up (like getting a "C" in a class one semester because of missed assignments when they had the dream of an Ivy league education.) 

 

I share your belief that kids need to learn self-management. I don't agree that a child whose schedule is packed is learning it. I don't agree that there isn't a time when a parent needs to step in and say "OK, this is how you do it. Feels good when you are doing it right doesn't it? Let's give you another whirl at this."

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#8 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 02:11 PM
 
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I think you have a good and reasonable approach.

 

If you're beginning to feel sorry for him, why not have a game time and pull out some board games. You could go outside and shoot hoops with him or bake some cookies together or ... lots of other fun things that he's been missing out on while playing video games in the past. :)

 

What about taking him to a pinball parlor or arcade on the weekend as a mom-son or family date? It doesn't have the same connotation as the video games in the house and it isn't slumping in to the Tree Sloth of Mom Guilt.

 

Maybe he doesn't yet:heartbeat see how much fun it is to have a mom who cares about him so much.

 

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#9 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 02:15 PM
 
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My son simply doesn't respond well to the loss of privileges for late or missing homework. It doesn't change a thing. But if it actually works for your son I don't see how it would be a problem. It sounds like a logical consequence. If games get in the way of school work completion then games have to go. However, I wouldn't ban them all semester. Now he has already lost the privilege so has no reason to keep working on getting his homework in. I'd give him a way to earn game time back. Personally I'd do a set number of days or weeks with all work turned in on time with an average grade of a B on all work during that time frame. That way earning game time continues to be an incentive. It also re-frames the issue. You didn't punish him by taking away game time. He earned game time by proving himself responsible enough to handle it.


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#10 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 04:37 PM
 
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I would not do it because I don't think it teaches much except that those with power can use it to get their way. Punishments simply don't each the kind of values and life lessons I want my child to learn. Dr. Laura Markham (one of MDC's "Ask the Experts") has written several great articles on this subject. Here's one about "consequences".

 

I'd rather have a heart to heart with my child, find out why they aren't able to complete their assignments, come up with some suggestions together on what could be done to help with that, offer my assistance in helping the child stick to the plan, and then check in with him/her regularly to see how it is working. 

 

Punishment assumes the child just isn't sufficiently motivated to solve this problem unless you make life unpleasant enough for them. Instead, assume the child wants to do it but is having some difficulty they may not even be able to identify: life is too overscheduled, lacking time-management skills, not understanding the work/subject matter, not being able to stick to a schedule. Help the child identify the problem then help them implement solutions. If you do this, punishment is unnecesssary.

 

Plus you have taught valuable problem-solving skills: analysing the problem, finding solutions, and checking in to see if those solutions are working. The child is given ownership over the problem and responsibility for working to a solution rather than having it imposed on him/her from above. Most importantly, you send a message that you trust your child to do the right thing when they have the tools and help to do so.

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#11 of 42 Old 09-26-2013, 06:08 PM
 
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I think reverting back to mandatory homework time, like you probably had when he first started homework at a younger age, is a more logical consequence that may also br helpful in developing good habits. I would also see if the school has a system for letting parents know about homework for the week. Our junior highs and high schools have had automated phone systems for homework for almost twenty years.
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#12 of 42 Old 09-27-2013, 12:01 AM
 
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I have a 13 year old who has just had two weeks with no cellphone and no ipod because she was using them when she should be sleeping and was never without an ear plug.

She was tired and grumpy and very disrespectful and rude.  I had worked with her on self regulation and leaving her electronics downstairs over night. But it had not worked. She was very unhappy.

The second week she has been on school holidays and is a different child. She is happy, communicative, respectful and coperative. We are having great conversations. SHe has been to the library and is working on learning Japanese and French as well as working on her maths. She is no longer tired all the time.

I do not see this as punishment. It is a logical consequence. My job as a parent is to protect her and make sure she gets enough sleep etc. Her use of electronics was impacting negatively on her health. I do not allow her unlimited access to televison. I only allow programs that are appropriately rated. If left to her own devices, like a lot of teens, she would watch shows that are absolute rubbish. She knows what she is permitted to watch. So why should I allow unlimited access to her devices?

I consider all these electronics as privileges, not necessities.  In another week she will have limited access to her ipod and use of her phone over the school day as she travels on public transport to and from school.

It would be nice if kids this age were capable of regulating their use of electronics but they are not. Xbox games are very addictive. I do not think parents should give their kids unlimited access to these devices. As parents we make decisions that control our kids in all sorts of ways every day. We choose what food to buy, and where we live, and how much money we spend on clothes etc. We make these decisions based on our love and concern for our kids. We have a right as parents to monitor and stop the use of electronic devices because of their potential to harm our kids.

I feel no guilt at all about taking away these privileges from my daughter. She is not happy about it but she understands why I consider it necessary and I think she realises how much better she feels.

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#13 of 42 Old 09-27-2013, 01:22 AM
 
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It sounds like the xbox is directly related to the falling grades. Therefore it is a good consequence.

 

I sometimes tell my kids-- you showed me that you are not yet ready to manage your own time and choose the right priorities, therefore I will have to manage your time for you.  Let's get your grades back on track and then we can try this again.

 

I do think he should have a limited amount of time to use the xbox on the weekend if he has shown good effort with trying to manage his schoolwork during the week. Maybe you can designate a 2 hour time slot on Saturday mornings or something. Then as his grades and time management improve you can loosen the restriction further.

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#14 of 42 Old 09-27-2013, 02:46 PM
 
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Well, if your son is in school and elite soccer 5 times a week until 9.... then really, there is no self-management happening. His schedule is being dictated by teachers and coaches, not by himself. If he's not getting his assignments in, then the few moments he has to manage, aren't being managed. If he truly doesn't have time for the work, well, then sports are being prioritized over school and that is a choice that the family has made. That's not what I'd consider self-regulating at all. This isn't an attack on your lifestyle. I've got busy kids too. I just know from experience that busy kids may not be getting in trouble, but they aren't necessarily learning self-management. They don't have TIME for self-management. When my eldest was in middle school, she was working in theatre an average of 20 hours a week outside of a hefty honors school schedule, Girl Scouts and Orchestra. There were no time for distractions. She got to high school, pulled out of non-theatre activities to focus on school, found that she really didn't know how to self-regulate when actual FREE time was an option (and gosh, free time is delicious when you haven't had enough for a couple years.) This is a real common problem with high-achievers when they head out to college.

 

I actually think my DS 12 has a better handle on it. He has several activities but they require lots of self-study and practice time and little scheduled, adult-supervised time. His self-control and ability to CHOOSE to do homework or practice his instruments or do his karate work-out when the option to play video games or futz around on the computer is what I find impressive. It's something he had to learn... 6th grade was when he needed some guidance but now in 8th, he seems to have it down. I suspect, like most teens in this age, he'll get a little older and make his mistakes so I'm no stamping him with "DONE" yet lol.

 

The real tech problems tend to hit from 14-15. Before then, you are dealing with video games and TV, maybe an i-pod. Come high school, you start dealing more with other kids texting yours at 2am every morning. Most of their work requires a computer but they all think they are better at multi-tasking than they are and so they facebook and twitter and watch youtube while they are supposedly working in the evenings. The school consequences vary from being not enough to change behavior to being so high that there is no recovery and kids give up (like getting a "C" in a class one semester because of missed assignments when they had the dream of an Ivy league education.) 

 

I share your belief that kids need to learn self-management. I don't agree that a child whose schedule is packed is learning it. I don't agree that there isn't a time when a parent needs to step in and say "OK, this is how you do it. Feels good when you are doing it right doesn't it? Let's give you another whirl at this."

I think he is managing his time very well, he knows how to regulate his time when he is not on the soccer pitch quite well. Yes, he makes choices, instead of hanging out with friends after school, he has to come home, do homework and get to soccer practice, then many times instead of being able to watch tv, or go on his ipod, he has to finish his homework when he gets back.

 

I also don't think he is being over scheduled. He is playing soccer because he loves it, it is not some after school activity, it is his life, it is what he wants to do. He is learning that if he wants to succeed as a soccer player he needs to give it his all, so some things have to go, school work is not one of them however, and he needs to keep on top of it and for the most part he does. I have suggested he might want to try home/online school or part-time school and online school, but he prefers to go to school full time. I wish that he could be part of a soccer residential program, but that is not offered at his age.

 

I have a 16 year old, who also is an elite athlete (sport climbing) who is taking several pre-IB classes (a lot of extra work) and she too manages to do her homework, and have computer, iphone time etc. She has never once missed an assaignment or failed a class. She is very adept at youtubing, facebooking and doing her homework at the same time!


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#15 of 42 Old 09-27-2013, 06:06 PM
 
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I'm in the camp that it can be helpful to impose a break from electronics, but that a semester is too long. The real goal should be to teach self moderation, and too long of a period of denial can't do that. I would let him have them back, but with strict boundaries that make sense to you for now, such as only on weekends, or only after homework is done, or only if you have a B average, or whatever easy for you to verify and makes sense for him. Ideally, the boundaries will become less necessary over time (months and years, not days or weeks).

 

Some day, he won't live with you and he'll need to manage this on his own, so the real goal is to figure out what steps you can take now to help him learn to do that.

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#16 of 42 Old 09-28-2013, 08:23 AM
 
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I think he is managing his time very well, he knows how to regulate his time when he is not on the soccer pitch quite well. Yes, he makes choices, instead of hanging out with friends after school, he has to come home, do homework and get to soccer practice, then many times instead of being able to watch tv, or go on his ipod, he has to finish his homework when he gets back.

 

I also don't think he is being over scheduled. He is playing soccer because he loves it, it is not some after school activity, it is his life, it is what he wants to do. He is learning that if he wants to succeed as a soccer player he needs to give it his all, so some things have to go, school work is not one of them however, and he needs to keep on top of it and for the most part he does. I have suggested he might want to try home/online school or part-time school and online school, but he prefers to go to school full time. I wish that he could be part of a soccer residential program, but that is not offered at his age.I have a 16 year old, who also is an elite athlete (sport climbing) who is taking several pre-IB classes (a lot of extra work) and she too manages to do her homework, and have computer, iphone time etc. She has never once missed an assaignment or failed a class. She is very adept at youtubing, facebooking and doing her homework at the same time!

 

If you believe that an hour after school (for which I suspect eating and changing take place) is enough unstructured time to prove a child a master of time management, what can I say but I don't agree at all. I've watched too many kids crash and burn freshman year of college coming out of highly structured childhoods. By no means do I find soccer bad... I'm irritated that we live in a society that thinks it's a good idea for kids to have 12-13 hour structured days on a regular basis. Most adults wouldn't stand for it for themselves. We've been there. There were years we lived that life. However, we've started to say "no" to that being the norm and I'm amazed at how much the kids have grown and developed when they aren't being told what to do 12 hours a day (even if it's their choice to be there.) 

 

There are actually several studies that kids DON'T multi-task on the computer well despite the perception from themselves that they are. They aren't as efficient, take longer on assignments than they have to and don't absorb the information as thoroughly. At 15, my eldest started taking almost all her classes at the college and when she finally embraced the notion that she could have more time if she stopped trying to social media while working, she found her work was done in a fraction of the time.

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#17 of 42 Old 09-30-2013, 08:29 AM
 
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My 14 year old got his xbox and computer games taken away from him at the end of the last school year because he didn't turn in some school assignments and was failing a class. I felt that the games were getting in the way. He started out doing the same thing again this school year. I talked to him in a calm and concerned voice, about how important it is for him to turn in his work and tried to get him to explain to me why he's not doing his work. I told him that I was sorry, but that I was going to have to take away the games for the rest of the semester. He seemed to take the punishment well. I guess he realized how he brought it on to himself, but he wasn't happy about it of course.   I do see how he's miserable everyday after school for not being able to play his games. After reading articles about not punishing your kids, it's made me wonder if i'm doing the right thing here.

I completely agree with your stance! I've done the same thing for the same reason, although in our case it was computer use and internet access as our dds don't really play video games much at all.

 

I think the idea of "punishment" is different than "natural consequences." When the thing that caused the grades to drop is taken away until the grades are stable and well established, I do not see this as "punishment." I see it as "parenting!" 

 

Look at it this way, AS the misuse of the video games CAUSED the poor grades and class failure, WHAT other choice would you have to help your child get back on track?

 

IMO, it isn't a punishment. If a child is misusing his time and his learning is suffering because of that misuse of time, I think it is every parent's obligation to make sure whatever caused the failure to be put on hiatus until the child brings the schoolwork up to the best of his ability AND shows he can manage his time properly so that things like video games don't take the place of wisely using his time to do his job. Which at this time, is learning is school.

 

I also don't see taking away video games or access to the internet as a horrible punishment in any way. You're just making the choice of time management that your son wasn't able to do on his own.

 

Our youngest child had a similar problem at the end of last school year. We limited time on the computer and online due to her not learning the things she was capable of learning because of poor time management and abuse of the internet. When we found out she was then accessing the internet on her iPod, I took possession of that for the remainder of the semester. This semester: MUCH better time management, she gets to her work quickly and gets it done and is learning as much as she is capable of. (Which is a lot, she's a smart child in a Gifted program.) She LEARNED from the choices we made to cut her access to the internet and it did teach her better time management skills.

 

As far as I am concerned, video games, TV and internet access that is not related to school work are not Rights, they are privileges, when required work isn't done, then privileges are put on hold until proper time management can be learned. Children suffer from being struck, screamed at, humiliated or denied food (those are "punishments" and ones many loving parents choose never to use.) I don't think kids actually "suffer" when they can't play video games. They may not like it, but as in real adult life, our privileges are often taken away if we cannot manage our time properly or we break rules that concern other people.

 

 

The advice of "no punishment" doesn't mean we stop being parents and let our children do whatever they want at any time and jeopardize their future and their present by not learning! From my POV this simply means that "punishment" that is not related to the problem is simply not to be initiated to change behavior by the parent.


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#18 of 42 Old 10-01-2013, 12:51 PM
 
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I would not do it because I don't think it teaches much except that those with power can use it to get their way. Punishments simply don't each the kind of values and life lessons I want my child to learn. Dr. Laura Markham (one of MDC's "Ask the Experts") has written several great articles on this subject. Here's one about "consequences".

 

I'd rather have a heart to heart with my child, find out why they aren't able to complete their assignments, come up with some suggestions together on what could be done to help with that, offer my assistance in helping the child stick to the plan, and then check in with him/her regularly to see how it is working. 

 

Punishment assumes the child just isn't sufficiently motivated to solve this problem unless you make life unpleasant enough for them. Instead, assume the child wants to do it but is having some difficulty they may not even be able to identify: life is too overscheduled, lacking time-management skills, not understanding the work/subject matter, not being able to stick to a schedule. Help the child identify the problem then help them implement solutions. If you do this, punishment is unnecesssary.

 

Plus you have taught valuable problem-solving skills: analysing the problem, finding solutions, and checking in to see if those solutions are working. The child is given ownership over the problem and responsibility for working to a solution rather than having it imposed on him/her from above. Most importantly, you send a message that you trust your child to do the right thing when they have the tools and help to do so.

 

This would work with some kids and not others. My daughter mostly likes school and wants to do well. If she wasn't completing assignments it would mean she was upset about something or having trouble understanding the work. Restricting her access to electronics wouldn't help her at all, she'd just do something different with her time. On the other hand, my son doesn't give a crap about school. He'd happily drop out and go find a job, were that possible for 11 year olds. Even when he does well on a  test or gets some praise from the teacher, it means nothing to him. He isn't able to see far enough into the future yet to really understand that school is a stepping stone to better things. Computer time is a big motivator for him, he has to finish his homework before he gets a turn playing online. 


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#19 of 42 Old 10-01-2013, 11:05 PM
 
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Well, let's just say that I hold some very different values from others posting on here. I would never force my kid to go to school if he hated it (actually, we homeschool but I would consider letting them go to school if they wanted to). My children have lots of unstructured free time so we don't have to limit video games or screen time - there is enough time in their day to get their fill of that and do many other things they enjoy as well. I don't have to fight with my kids about homework. I don't care about "grades". My kids don't have to perform or meet standards to earn approval or iPad time or whatever. 

 

When we do have conflicts, which are mostly issues of learning to live together with people, how to behave, participate in family life, etc., I work with the children to solve them. We are all on the same team, I am on their side. My job is to assist them, not to force my own solution upon them. If there is a problem I ask them to come up with solutions. I may offer suggestions but ultimately we have to all agree. Sure, it doesn't always work. But that is the beauty of it - failure is how we learn. If it doesn't work we try something different and we keep trying until we solve the problem. If I were to use my power as a parent to manipulate them into doing what I think they should be doing, I rob them of the opportunity to learn valuable life skills. But most importantly, my kids trust me to always be on their side, to not use my power against them (even if I'm in the right, they will perceive it as me forcing them into unpleasantness when they know I have a choice not to but I choose to do so anyways), and...what I find really important....they actually believe in their ability to solve the problem. They may need help, reminders, etc....but they believe that they can do it, because I have always acted as if they can. 

 

This takes time and patience, and yes I am sometimes tempted to just force them to do it my way. Punishment is a lot easier than allowing them to find their way to a solution. But I believe the rewards are worth it.

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It would be heaven if life consisted of only with our time as we chose. But reality dictates that often people, children and adults, need to sometimes engage in activities that are not all fun allof the time.

Part of our job as Adult Parents is to help our children prepare for adult life. This is something we as responsible adults (if we are responsible adults) know more about than inexperienced and sometimes irresponsible young people.

I would love to simply let my children do whatever they like with their time, all the time, as would I, but that isn't realistic nor possible in reality. Also if we all did that my children might not be properly prepared for adult life and if I did whatever I wanted all the time we might not have food on the table, clean clothes a livable environment to live in and my career would be in tatters. If my DH did whatever he wanted with his time all the time we would have no place to live, no food to cook and.... I could go on and on. Perhaps some children need very little direction, but most will need quite a bit to help them grow into responsible self motivated adults.

Most families who do not unschool also have down time amd tome for children to do ss they like, but that time needs to be healthily balanced with learning responsibility.

Part of being a parent consists of sometimes enforcing structure when our kids might "just not feel like it." It's part of the HARD UNFUN part of being a responsible parent some of the time.

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My kids have to do things that they don't necessarily want to do. Believe me, if it were entirely up to them they would never do their mathwork, or attend certain functions, and they definitely wouldn't do any housework or cooking. Nor would my son go to bed on time. :)

 

The difference is that their attending such things and doing such work is done willingly because we discussed and negotiated. They saw that either it was important to me, or that it brought them benefits over the longer term, or some other outcome. The idea that children cannot learn these things without having them forced upon them is simply false, IMNSHO. 

 

For example, with housework, this fall when the learning year started I explained that I was feeling overwhelmed with so much to do and not having enough time to spend on Project Time (where I assist them with homeschool projects) and other things we wanted to do together. They love doing project time with me so they were willing to help out by taking on a couple of extra jobs around the house. They do not like doing housework, but they do it and I don't have to threaten to take things away if they don't because they don't feel that this was imposed upon them, but rather that they agreed to do it. If it's not happening we'll problem-solve: my kids both have sensory issues so sometimes it's a matter of choosing a different chore, or they may ask me to remind them to do it at a certain time of day because they are having trouble remembering, or they may ask me to help them break the chore down into smaller tasks so it doesn't seem overwhelming (I haven't had to do this, but these are examples of what we would look at if there were a problem). There are many reasons why something might not get done, but I never consider that they just won't do it unless I force them to by punishing or taking away privileges. The assumption is that we all want to find a solution that works, and so we don't give up until we do. 


In other examples, they recently agreed to make their own dinners on Saturday night so I could have a night off. They don't get any obvious benefit from this - I explained why I wanted this, that a day off once a week would make me really happy, so we discussed it and they agreed to do it. They'd rather I made them dinner, but they see that it makes me very happy. And actually, they did end up having fun in the end, so they learnt another valuable lesson. 

 
I think the biggest benefit of this approach is that it not only teaches problem-solving skills but it teaches self-reflection. Sometimes we just want to quit something or not do something but we don't stop and take the time to figure out what is going on for us deep inside, what the real issue is. When we do, solutions present themselves. I know many adults who struggle with this sort of inner reflection and I think it is a very important skill for emotional health and wellbeing. 

 

(I don't know why that is highlighted but I can't get rid of it!)

 

Even the most unschooled children encounter obstacles to their goals and desires. There is no way to live in the world without that happening. I do not have to impose such obstacles on my kids, they encounter them every day. Instead of being the artificial source of obstacles, I'm the coach that guides them through it. That is what I consider to be my role as a parent. 


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#22 of 42 Old 10-02-2013, 04:53 PM
 
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I don't think the normal consequence of limiting access to or temporarily limiting time on the device which over use of that caused poor time management resulting in not learning is "an obstacle" nor do most children see such gentle ways of parenting as "an artificial source." If internet abuse causes an issue with learning, internet is going to be limited by the parent.

 

My children were certainly never injured by such parenting techniques, and it taught them (as it would in the real world) that improperly using time results in consequences.

 

When one has a job in the real world not completing one's work or not doing one's work well or in time may often result in not being paid, missing out on raises, missing promotions and even possibly the loss of the job. I doubt anyone would see these as "artificial" consequences, they are very real. Some parents are simply trying to recreate real life action-reward or action-consequence situations that will eventually occur in the real world.

 

I know you are doing what you see to be best for your children and I appreciate that. However, much of what you describe are simply normal chores as part of being part of a family, not natural consequences of behavior that may be the result of inappropriate time management or inappropriate behavior.

 

I'm wondering how you handle inappropriate behavior, inappropriate treatment of others, unwise uses of time, damaging others' belongings, hurting others' feelings, being disrespectful, et without using any form of consequence.

 

For some kids "talk" may be enough to have the issue never occur again, but these children are far and few between. If they were common.... kids wouldn't need parents for as long as they need them. :)  Y'know?

 

We're not talking about hitting or screaming at kids here, we're talking about natural consequences. Many don't see a problem with parenting by using these consequences...... as they would occur in the real world.

 

 

.


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#23 of 42 Old 10-03-2013, 06:06 PM
 
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Sorry about the red, I don't know how to break the quotes down into separate phrases....

 

Originally Posted by MaggieLC View Post
 

I don't think the normal consequence of limiting access to or temporarily limiting time on the device which over use of that caused poor time management resulting in not learning is "an obstacle" nor do most children see such gentle ways of parenting as "an artificial source."

 

By "obstacle" I mean something that gets in the way of what a child wants. By limiting access you are presenting an obstacle to the child getting what they want. Whether the child sees it as fair or unfair doesn't change the fact that they are encountering an obstacle to what they want to do. If it weren't an obstacle, it would hold no influence over the child's behaviour.

 

By "artificial source" I mean something that is imposed by the parent by choice, rather than something that is outside the parent or child's influence. For example, a child plays roughly with a toy and it breaks. That is a natural consequence. An artificial consequence is when the parent sees the child playing rough with a toy and takes the toy away. A child is rude to a friend and that friend doesn't want to hang out with them anymore, that is a natural consequence of social behaviour. An artificial consequence is the child is rude to a friend and the parent forbids them to go to that friend's party. It is artificial because it was imposed on the child by the parent. 

 

This may seem like pointless semantics but the distinction has implications for both the kind of relationship between parent and child, and also the way the child looks at their own mistakes and failures. Too much to go into right now, though!

 

My children were certainly never injured by such parenting techniques...

 

I am not suggesting that children are injured by the use of punishment. If that's how your family rolls and you are happy with it then I would not presume to tell you that you are doing something wrong. I respect other peoples' choices, and if people say something works for them I don't presume to know better for them. 

 

The OP specifically said that she was questioning her use of punishment and I am trying to represent another way of parenting since pretty much everybody else here said they agreed with her choice of punishment. There was a time on MDC when my position was in the majority so I am not used to being the sole representative of this approach to parenting! But I do feel strongly that parents should know their choices, and too many people dismiss this way of doing things out of ignorance and misconceptions about what it looks like and how it works. If parents are going to have true freedom to make choices, they need to fully understand what those choices are. 

 

Many parents cannot conceive of parenting without punishment and there are so many misconceptions out there about what that looks like. The stereotype is that the kids are brats who do whatever they want and care about nobody else. That this "real world" that everybody talks about will be a foreign land to them when they finally leave the nest. Everybody has that story about that one permissive family whose kids are brats, and then they paint everyone with that same brush.

 

This is the same attitude encountered by many who choose home birth, or not to vaccinate, or homeschooling, or extended breastfeeding, or any number of alternative parenting and lifestyle choices promoted here on MDC. 

 

 

When one has a job in the real world not completing one's work or not doing one's work well or in time may often result in not being paid, missing out on raises, missing promotions and even possibly the loss of the job.

 

I agree that it is important to do good work, to be able to manage time so work gets completed on schedule. But I don't think this is best taught by the parent identifying the problem and then imposing the solution upon the child. In the "real world", if they can't figure out where the roadblock is and come up with a solution, nobody else is going to do so for them. 

 

Without practice at identifying the source of a roadblock to good work or time management, how will they learn to identify problems and come up with solutions if the parents are doing so for them? What if it turns out that the child was deliberately avoiding the homework because they didn't understand the material? Or what if they were feeling overwhelmed by a demanding schedule and internet time was the only way they could unwind? Or what if the child was feeling pressured by friends to participate in online chats, etc when they should have been doing their work? So many reasons why a child might not be producing good work, or not be meeting deadlines...but without giving them ownership over the problem and teaching them how to identify and solve the problem I feel we are robbing them of the chance to practice valuable skills.

 

I'm wondering how you handle inappropriate behavior, inappropriate treatment of others, unwise uses of time, damaging others' belongings, hurting others' feelings, being disrespectful, et without using any form of consequence.

 

Well first of all there are already consequences to these things: you hurt a friend's feelings you risk damaging the friendship; you break someone else's stuff and you have caused them pain or trouble or inconvenience - even if a child is too young to understand that they can be told that it is a wrong that needs to be made right and involved in coming up with a solution. If you are disrespectful you are reflecting badly on yourself and your family and making others feel badly. I may have to point out the consequences to my kid but I don't have to make up more consequences to show them it was wrong. Most of the time they already know it was wrong and appreciate my helping them make it right.

 

If it is a recurring problem then we address it the same way: we discuss the problem and I ask them to come up with some potential solutions. I will offer some suggestions but the rule is we have to agree together on the solution. I assist them with carrying out the solution and we check in regularly to see how it is working. If it's not working we work together to find another solution. 

 

I'll give you a concrete example: My daughter used to do this thing we called "crazy time" where she would get really loud and disruptive and it annoyed everyone. No amount of yelling or crying (on her brother's part) or asking her to stop (on our part) seemed to stop it. So I sat her down and discussed it with her. She said she knew it was wrong but felt like she couldn't control it. We started thinking about what could be triggering this. With my help, she eventually figured out that it was one of two things: either she needed to get out and move her body and get that excess energy out (solution: go for a bike ride or go jump on the trampoline) or sometimes she was bored and didn't quite know how to snap out of it (solution: Mum makes suggestions from a list of things to do that we made together and she chooses one of them). This has worked really well and now what is very cool is that she sometimes recognizes that mood before it hits and takes action to prevent it. Rather than focus on the behaviour, which is really just a symptom, we went right to the source. Importantly, she got to practice looking within herself and finding the underlying motives behind her impulses. I think that is a really valuable lesson as I know adults who cannot see past their own behaviour to what drives them to act that way.

 

For some kids "talk" may be enough to have the issue never occur again, but these children are far and few between. If they were common.... kids wouldn't need parents for as long as they need them. :)  Y'know?

 

I need to stress that there is a lot more than just "talking" involved (my kids have short attention spans and can tune me out pretty quickly!) :)  It's the engaging of them in the problem solving, getting their willing agreement to the solution, that is what makes all the difference. I don't just tell them off and be done with it. The solutions generally require followup and checking in to see how it is working. They are not just passive recipients of "consequences" - they are actively engaged in solving the problem. 

 

Such problem solving skills have to be taught - they can't do it on their own, so that is why I am needed as a parent. They need my help to learn how to deal with problems: how to look inside yourself to see why you are behaving a certain way (such a valuable skill!), how to come up with solutions, how to check in and make sure those solutions are working, how to revise the solution if it is not. These are valuable life skills, because what is life if not a series of problems that need to be solved, and goals that we desire to achieve?

 

I also think that how well kids listen to their parents has a lot to do with the nature of their relationship. I am not seen by my kids as an imposer of punishments, they trust me not to force them to do things against their will, so they are willing to hear me out when I say something is a problem and they are willing to work towards a solution. I think they take pride in being part of the solution, and I never cease to be impressed by the ideas they come up with to "make things right". My kids are never on the defensive, worried that I might come impose some unpleasantness on them because they messed up. And, I might add, they can be open with me about their mistakes because they know I'm not going to punish them. 

 

I guess if I could sum it all up it is this: I trust that my children want to behave well, be respectful, not cause another person pain, take pride in their work, be part of a harmonious family, have friends, and be a productive member of society one day. Thus, if any of these things are not happening I assume there is a problem and that the only thing standing in the way is they don't know how to identify and/or solve the problem (or they may not be aware that there is a problem). Punishment assumes the child CAN solve the problem but isn't sufficiently motivated to do so unless the parent imposes some unpleasantness into their lives. Or that the child is incapable of being a willing part of the solution, thus requiring the parent to step in and impose the solution upon them. I haven't found either of those things to be true. 

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#24 of 42 Old 10-04-2013, 06:06 AM
 
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Piglet we'll have to agree to disagree on this subject
. You and I see natural concequences as being very different things. Yes, I have seen many children (and adults) who can't always come up with their own solutions to problems, again that's one of roles of parents and one reason we usually work with and share our lives with other people. They help us regulate ourselves and we help them.

I don't see guiding children by helpong them by imposing rules when they are stuck as "punishment" certainly it is far as well from heavy punishment or whatever word you slipped in there.

For many supplying limits is part of preparing our children for how we know the real world works.

Mileage and all that.

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#25 of 42 Old 10-04-2013, 12:08 PM
 
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Piglet we'll have to agree to disagree on this subject
Just as I was going to say "yes"...
I read this:
For many supplying limits is part of preparing our children for how we know the real world works.

...and I have to agree with you there. :lol
I do believe in setting limits for some things, especially when kids are younger. This is where I part ways with radical unschoolers and the like. But that's a topic for another thread.
Thanks for a respectful discussion! :)

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#26 of 42 Old 10-04-2013, 02:26 PM
 
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I have a 12 yr old, almost 13 yr old dd in middle school. I wouldn't take away anything from her as that would feel too punitive for our family. She's very sensitive and would feel really bad about herself if I did that. She's the kind of kid who needs building up, not knocking down.

 

For our family in that situation if homework wasn't getting turned in I would view that as my child needing to learn more about how to manage her time, so what I would do is increase my monitoring of her homework. I already usu ask everyday what homework she has and when it's due and I ask her to show me her planner because she does have trouble staying organized. I don't see my role as punishing her for not being organized — it's never going to be her strong suit — but I do see my role as teaching her some better strategies for staying organized. To that end, I ask her to show me her planner so she will get in the habit of writing down her assignments so she and I both can make sure we know what's due when. Some of her teachers also have assignments posted online so we check those also. I also check in with her in the evening and ask her what assignment she's working on and how it's going. If she's doing something else (surfing YouTube, texting, drawing) I remind her of the time (it's 7:30, you might want to get started on that math) and I follow up on that. If she gets it all done and has time left over then I'm fine with her playing Minecraft or whatever, but that comes after homework. I wouldn't ground her from playing Minecraft because she forgot an assignment last week. What's past is past and we need to work on managing our time effectively now. It's my job to teach her.


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#27 of 42 Old 10-04-2013, 02:32 PM
 
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Posted by Piglet:

I guess if I could sum it all up it is this: I trust that my children want to behave well, be respectful, not cause another person pain, take pride in their work, be part of a harmonious family, have friends, and be a productive member of society one day. Thus, if any of these things are not happening I assume there is a problem and that the only thing standing in the way is they don't know how to identify and/or solve the problem (or they may not be aware that there is a problem). Punishment assumes the child CAN solve the problem but isn't sufficiently motivated to do so unless the parent imposes some unpleasantness into their lives. Or that the child is incapable of being a willing part of the solution, thus requiring the parent to step in and impose the solution upon them. I haven't found either of those things to be true.

 

I agree that limiting electronics time due to homework not being finished isn't the first place I would start.  And discussion and problem solving and supplying tools are great approaches.  And if you are lucky they work most of the time (or even all of the time, if you are REALLY lucky).  But there are also times when, frankly, they don't work.  Because a 14 YO teen is capable of solving the problem and doing what is necessary, but refuses to  Or the child is truly incapable of implementing an agreed upon solution.  In which case, I strongly believe it's the parent's responsibility to provide the structure to make homework (or whatever) possible.  It might not be the only thing -- in fact, it's probably not.  Just imposing the "no electronics" consequence without anything else would be assuming that the child is willfully not doing what he needs to and could/should be forced to.  But imposing a limit to ensure that priorities are met and also working for a longer-term self-enforcing solution is the right answer here.  And only someone in the moment is going to know if that will take 24 hours or 2 weeks or whatever.  In the case of our family (not the OP), it has taken repeated removal of electronics until homework is finished AND testing for ADD and other psych issues AND therapy AND tutoring.  But it's completely clear to me that my 14 YO doesn't comprehend the importance of poor grades resulting from failing to do homework -- its too far in the future and too abstract.  I am not willing to let him experience the natural consequences -- any more than I would allow him to be hurt to experience the natural consequences of pulling the dog's tail or sticking his fingers in the sockets when he was a toddler.  So until he does understand them and can do what is necessary to avoid them, I am going to put a structure in place to ensure that things get done to avoid them.  The same way I would separate dog and toddler or move toddler away from wall socket and put a plug protector in.  Electronics too tempting to resist?  Then remove the temptation until the child is stronger. 

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#28 of 42 Old 10-05-2013, 08:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Piglet68 View Post
 

By "artificial source" I mean something that is imposed by the parent by choice, rather than something that is outside the parent or child's influence. For example, a child plays roughly with a toy and it breaks. That is a natural consequence. An artificial consequence is when the parent sees the child playing rough with a toy and takes the toy away. A child is rude to a friend and that friend doesn't want to hang out with them anymore, that is a natural consequence of social behaviour. An artificial consequence is the child is rude to a friend and the parent forbids them to go to that friend's party. It is artificial because it was imposed on the child by the parent. 

 

I think you are leaving out "logical consequence."  If the computer (or TV or whatever) is directly the cause of the homework issue, then limiting access to it or denying access to it for a set period of time is directly related to the problem. It really can help teen learn to use the device in a more balanced way.

 

The OP specifically said that she was questioning her use of punishment and I am trying to represent another way of parenting since pretty much everybody else here said they agreed with her choice of punishment.

 

No, they didn't. You are reading through your own bias. Most of the thread agreed that limiting access to media that can been causing problems can help the child find better balance in using that media later, but most felt that taking it away for a semester would not be helpful or productive.

 

There was a time on MDC when my position was in the majority so I am not used to being the sole representative of this approach to parenting! But I do feel strongly that parents should know their choices, and too many people dismiss this way of doing things out of ignorance and misconceptions about what it looks like and how it works. If parents are going to have true freedom to make choices, they need to fully understand what those choices are. 

 

I think that part of it depends on the ages of the kids and the exact issues. I could have written your posts when my kids were 9 and 11 and we were still homeschooling. My kids are now 15 and 17. One is in college as an early entrant and one is attending a top high school with a very aggressive academic schedule. My perspective has shifted.

 

At 9 and 11 as homeschoolers, there really was time to do everything they wanted to as  long as they were sensible. That isn't true now, and it is because they are preparing for adulthood.

 

 What if it turns out that the child was deliberately avoiding the homework because they didn't understand the material? Or what if they were feeling overwhelmed by a demanding schedule and internet time was the only way they could unwind? Or what if the child was feeling pressured by friends to participate in online chats, etc when they should have been doing their work? So many reasons why a child might not be producing good work, or not be meeting deadlines...but without giving them ownership over the problem and teaching them how to identify and solve the problem I feel we are robbing them of the chance to practice valuable skills.

 

I think that a lot of us are assuming that those things have been sorted out, but that at the end of all that, video games are just more fun that algebra and conjugating Spanish verbs. At some point, pretty much every one has to learn to do their work first and then  play.

 

Such problem solving skills have to be taught - they can't do it on their own, so that is why I am needed as a parent. They need my help to learn how to deal with problems: how to look inside yourself to see why you are behaving a certain way (such a valuable skill!), how to come up with solutions, how to check in and make sure those solutions are working, how to revise the solution if it is not. These are valuable life skills, because what is life if not a series of problems that need to be solved, and goals that we desire to achieve?

 

I agree with all this. I agree with pretty much everything you say! I have just found that it has limits.

 

I agree with starting exactly the way you describe and talking through the problem and solutions with a teen, with checking back in, etc. However, I think that if that doesn't work, that if the natural consequences of the behavior are so far removed that the kid doesn't get it (a poor education leads to an in-ability to support yourself as an adult and no options for meaningful work) that logical consequences that help the child learn the NEEDED behavior are fine. 

 

Part of the reason that I've found this to be true is that the type of academic work needed to be done as kids get older can't be gotten through in a couple of hours a day, the way elementary school can be many homeschooled kids.

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#29 of 42 Old 10-05-2013, 02:50 PM
 
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I just really don't see this as a big conundrum. If the kid is not turning in homework you just ride him until he turns in his homework. Maybe have him do it at the kitchen table while you make supper or something. He just needs more supervision. It's as simple as that.

 

If he can show he can get his homework done w/o supervision then he can do whatever he wants, but if he's not doing it he just needs more supervision. It's not about taking anything away. He could just be sitting in his room staring at the walls doing nothing and still not getting his homework done. It's not really about the video games, no matter how addictive they are. It's about what he's NOT doing — his homework. 

 

So he needs to be held accountable for the homework. He either does it in the same room as you or you check in with him frequently to see how he's doing on it. If he gets it done he can do video games, basketball, paint, play metal guitar, carve duck decoys. Homework either has to happen first or, if he needs downtime, he has to check in with you right after school and/or right when you get home and show you his assignments and when they're due. Then the two of you together have to make a reasonable estimate for the amount of time it will take to get done, so you can say, "Okay, you've got to read this chapter in science and answer the questions, you've got math due day after tomorrow, and an English paper due on Friday, but tomorrow you've got piano after school and we have to go to your sister's basketball game. I think you'd better do the science and go ahead and do the math tonight and try to get some of the English done in study hall tomorrow. The science and math should take about 2 hrs so you can have a break until supper and start on it right after supper or you can knock it out now and have free time after supper."

 

He needs help learning how long it takes to complete his work and how he should budget his time. If he chooses to relax before doing his homework and has trouble tearing himself away from the video games consider setting a timer once the two of you have estimated together how long he needs to do his homework. When he's showing he can reasonably estimate how long it will take him to do his homework you can let him do that on  his own, but still have him check in w/ you and tell you his assignments and when they're due. And then follow-up on checking to see if he's working on them when the appointed time rolls around. You are his supervisor just like a manager at an office, "How's that report coming, Williams? I need it on my desk in the morning."

 

The problem is one of self-regulation. He's not able to regulate the amount of time he goofs off (be it w/ video games or something else) versus the time needed to complete his homework. If he has problems with the work itself (doesn't understand the math, or whatever) be available as a sounding board. I think helping him with his homework is a great thing. The point is getting him to understand the work, not having him stumble about on his own. The end goal is that he knows the material.

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#30 of 42 Old 10-05-2013, 05:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post
 

I just really don't see this as a big conundrum. If the kid is not turning in homework you just ride him until he turns in his homework. Maybe have him do it at the kitchen table while you make supper or something. He just needs more supervision. It's as simple as that.

I'm going to admit to laughing out loud at this. My son is 10 so still a bit more controllable than a 14 year old and this plan wouldn't even work with him. What we would end up with is:

 

1. Lies about what's done and not done and where it is.

2. Neither of us doing anything but homework from the time he got home until such time as we both were tired and fed up and I sent him to bed.

3. If work actually got accomplished (Ha ha ha) it would be the bare minimum of quality that he thought was possible.

4. My particular child would probably spiral out of control and stop turning in any work at all. He's stubborn like that. Plus he'd have lost all his other activities such as Chinese lessons, baseball, scouts, and FLL. Because we'd still be sitting at that GD table when it was time to leave for said activity without a single bit of work complete.

5. We'd both be mad and fed up and have dug in our heals so nothing changes and nothing gets done and now his homework isn't getting done and the household is a mess while we both stew in resentment and anger. 

6. This would go on for months.

 

Yes we've actually been there and done that. 


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