Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sneaky Is As Sneaky Does

Is your teen sneaky? I'm guessing yes. Not all the time, but definitely sometimes, like when he/she says they're doing their homework at the computer, but really facebook is up and running. Or maybe when you have asked whether they have any homework, and he/she says:" I did it in study. Or when you tell them to stop texting and get to work, and he/she says "I AM!"

Here is the thing, expecting that your teen will have the willpower to shut down, and shut off on their own accord is unrealistic. It is way more fun than doing their homework. And basically you have set them up to lie. And then rather than being mad at them for being on facebook and texting when they are supposed to be doing their homework, it turns into a much bigger fight about lying.

I suggest calling your phone carrier and have the phone shut off for a few hours every evening while they do their homework. This way you do not have to get into a power struggle as in : "give me your phone! No! Give me your phone! No, I will do my homework, just leave me alone!" And so on and so on and so on. If the cell phone gods just magically shut it off for a few hours, which cell phone carriers will let you schedule now, then the power struggle will never take place. Its like in a prison when the lights go off automatically, you don't need the guards to go around and say lights out.

Addiction is a tough issue to tackle, and if your teen is getting all bent out of shape when the phone gets shut off for just a few hours, you have an addicted teen. All joking aside. This really is getting to be a serious problem, and your teen cannot deal with this on their own. The I get it moment is to say to your teen; " I get how important it is for you to stay in touch with your friends, and I get that even a few hours feels like forever, but it just has to happen. It is my job to help you get done what needs to get done in the best way possible. The phone will be turned back on at (whatever time gives them a two hour break), and that is that." Let them vent, they will be angry, no need to defend your decision, just a,  "I know this feels hard," give them the shoulder shrug, and you are done! The same technique can be employed with social networking sites. Call the geek squad and have them help you set it up.

As for the homework dilemma wondering in fact whether they really did do it in study,  here is what you can do. You only need to do this if in fact there is a problem. I know mid year report cards come out in a week or two and you will know if their grade has been affected by missing homework assignments. Please read the blog on the "homework avoider" for a more detailed explanation of this issue, but if grades are being effected by missing assignments try this. Meet with your teen's guidance counselor or e-mail those teachers directly in whose classes your teen is missing assignments on a regular basis. Ask them to e-mail you on Fridays about any missing assignments. Let your teen know that if you get a "clean bill of health" from the teacher you will pay for 5 music downloads or whatever feels right. Kids seem to love their music, and unless you have given them a credit card, you are completely in control of  their ability to download music or videos. If there are missing assignments, no music downloads, and the cell phone will be turned off for one whole evening (perhaps that following Monday) until the assignment is handed in. If two assignments are missing, then the cellphone stays turned off for two nights and so on. Some kids really need incentives. Nothing wrong with that, most of us do. The real goal is to get your kids to hopefully see that they can get a lot more done and much more quickly when they are not distracted by the phone and the computer. These are skills they will need to take with them to college and beyond. So get crackin!

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