I was at the gym the other day talking to a bunch of parents while waiting for our spin class to begin, and I asked them what was the hot button issue they were having with their teen. With resounding unanimity and gusto, they said 'HOMEWORK". Some things never change, and teens avoiding homework has been an issue between parents and kids since homework was invented. Truly, doing something that isn't fun.......isn't fun!
Now that school is in full swing, the homework machine is full up and running. But I'm guessing that the machine goes off-line more often than a parent wants. Here is why.
For parents, this homework avoidance may be
something new for their kid. In elementary school, homework is fun. It
makes a kid feel a little grown-up, it is usually very project oriented
and gives them a chance to tap into some creativity, and finally and
most importantly, it pleases their parents when they do it. Elementary
school kids are developmentally wired to want to please their parents.
As a teenager, not so much.
Here is what is behind homework avoidance:
1. It is usually quite boring, no more building dioramas.
It is hard, maybe not just in one subject, but all subjects. School
work gets harder and more challenging, and it is a rude awakening to not
feel smart all the time.
3. Perhaps a few assignments have been
missed, and now they are in the deep, dark hole of being behind and feel
like they can never catch up.
4. They are tired. Days get really long with activities/jobs/sports after school, and then homework.
5. It feels daunting that there might be several hours of sitting down and concentrating.
6. And most importantly, drum roll please, they want to be "hanging" with their friends, even if it is virtually.
is alot for parents to battle against, and most of it is not what you
actually see when you walk into your teens room. What you do see is
multiple screens on the computer, with facebook being the most
prominent, the phone in their lap fingers tapping away in conversation, a
downloaded TV show or movie playing away on their IPHONE, or ITOUCH,
and yes there may be a textbook open somewhere in there. Those
underlying feelings of frustration, anxiety and boredom are cloaked by
all those copious amounts of avoidance behaviors
of all, close your eyes and visualize yourself at this age. How many of
you eagerly sat down to do homework? I have very visceral memories
myself, of dragging the phone with its long cord (I'm old) into my room,
and whispering away for what must have been hours to my 7 best friends.
We had a lot of catching up to do since we had parted after school, and
I had to speak to each and every one of them. The first thing is to
understand with them, rather than argue and criticize them for their
lack of attention to what to you is the most important thing they should
Here is your "I Get it " moment. Rather then
going into their room and in a raised, disgusted voice saying, "Get of
that damn phone, and shut down that facebook or I am taking both away.
Either you do your homework, and get your priorities straight or (fill
in the blank her with your threat du jour)". You can go another way and
say" I get how boring some of this stuff is, or I know this math, or
this french, or this chemistry or biology is really tough stuff, or I
know you have alot going on in your life these days, and it must be hard
to focus on your homework. Or, (this is especially for the kids who may
have ADD or ADHD) I know how hard it is for you to have to sit and
concentrate on all this stuff at one time. Let them know that you get
that this is hard, frustrating, boring etc. AND that there is nothing
wrong with them for feeling this way. Then you can get to the planning
piece. You can say "lets figure this out so we don't have to be arguing
about it every night. We can't change that you have homework, and that
we expect you do it, but we can figure out a way that works for you."
Parents maybe your kid can't sit for 2 hours at a time. Maybe work out a
plan where they work in the kitchen for 30 minutes, without phone and
computer, and then take 15 min breaks to "chat with friends". Many
phone carriers and Internet companies have parental control programs
where you can program phones and computers like DVRs, scheduling when
they are on or off. This is a great tool, because you and your kids can
come up with a schedule together, and it takes away all the arguing of
turn off your phone!, get off facebook! The bottom line is you want to
avoid the power struggle of "Do your homework!" VS "You can't make me!"
by the way is actually true. If kids feel that you are trying to MAKE
them do something, they will do everything in their power to show you
just how powerless you are, by just not doing it.
with them and planning with them teaches them to look at what gets in
their way to do what they need to do, and figure out strategies that can
support them. This is a life skill they will need to take with them in
the next phase of their lives. If you take control of how and when they
do or don't their homework, they will never learn how to manage all the
distractions of life that are coming their way.
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