16 answers

Help! How Do I Force My 10 Year Old to Do Her Homework?

I'm really at the end of my rope. My 10 year old daughter is lively and bright. She SHOULD be an A student! But she's lazy. She is failing because, even though she CAN do the work, she chooses not to.

I am home almost every day after school. I stand over her and remind her...sign her homework planner...take away privileges...She has absolutely no excuse not to do the work! How do I motivate or punish or what should I do? HELP.

2 moms found this helpful

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I highly suggest that you read the Love and Logic book about teaching responsibility. (I can't remember the exact name of it-- but it's by Cline and Fay)
Even though it seems counter-productive, you may need to take a step back and let her make the decisions about doing or not doing her homework. Then let her face the consequences of that-- even if that means she's held back a grade. Read the book, and you will understand!
Homework is not the issue in my house, but the love and logic techniques have been a MAJOR help to my family and I am much less stressed, and therefore a better mom.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

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My bias here is that I'm ADHD, combined type.

The number one most *accurate* time people get tagged as being ADHD, tends to be just before puberty, typically 5th or 6th grade (now many many children are accurately Dx'd earlier, but there's massive overdiagnosis in younger children. Later Dx is nearly always dead on). And the number one tell:

"Student does not regularly complete or turn in homework." & "Student is not preforming at capability"

Girls are NOTORIOUSLY UNDERdiagnosed with ADHD (in large part because they tend toward the mental hyperactivity, aka inattentive type, or combined type mental + physical hyperactivity... but girls usually figure out how to get the relief from small muscle movements young... wiggling toes, fingers, playing with their tongues, facial expressions, only flexing one muscle at a time). Also, since most ADHD kids are actually in the Gifted - Profoundly Gifted range, unless the parent is familiar with the lesser known symptomology (like hyperfocus, if we LIKE something we can focus on it for HOURS)... or the child has ADHD hyperactive only type, it's not usually until adolescence that it gets diagnosed.

http://www.chadd.org/Content/CHADD/Understanding/Symptoms... has the very well known symptoms of adhd... and http://www.help4adhd.org/en/treatment/guides/keycomponents has the whole evaluation process.

I'd also HIGHLY recommend reading the book "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!?" by Kate Kelly & Peggy Ramundo. In fact, I'd reccomend reading the book BEFORE going in for an evaluation. It's a time and money thing. The book costs $10 or is free through the library. If there's and Aha! moment, there are tons and tons of tips and tricks to start using, and you can start looking into evaluators. (I have one, btw, if you're looking for one... She's utterly a.m.a.z.i.n.g. and is located Bellevue, WA if you're in the Greater Seattle Area.

So why do all this? If it IS ADHD, and you're doing all the stuff that *should* (and does) get a regular child to preform, you'll have the opposite effect on a kid with ADHD. no matter how much you try and make her, she never will. But if she IS ADHD, there are about 1001 tricks, that will have her preforming at her best even without meds... but those same tricks (coping mechanisms is med speak) just don't work for non ADHD kids. 3, just as an example, are: Playing music during study time & increasing how hard the work is, & avoiding repetition. Those are 3 CLASSIC adhd tricks, but for most kids... the exact opposite of what works.

"We are all connected;
To each other, biologically
To the earth, chemically
To the rest of the universe atomically"
- Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson

6 moms found this helpful

Hello W.-

I've worked with children for 16+ years, and the short answer is that you cannot force your child to do their homework, it will only turn into a power struggle.

Here is my suggestion.

First, talk to your child's teacher. Let them know about the power struggle and ask her/him to "punish" for not turing in completed work. Like completing unfinished work during recess.

Next, allow your child to have 30 minutes of decompress time after school. That is her time, she can do anything.

After the 30 minutes it's her job to sit with her homework and complete it. She must complete the homework before TV, computer or game time. Additionally. you must check her finished work before she can play.

Now the tough part, is that you set the rules and walk away. All you do is enforce the no TV etc rule. Don't hound her about completing her work. If she rushes through and does a poor job, send her back to the table.

Give her the power, without giving her the power. She has the power of when she watches TV or plays, by finishing her work quickly and throughly. You have the power by enforcing the rules without fighting.

One last item, please take a moment and make sure the issues is not your daughter struggling with the work. Sometimes children don't know how to ask for help when they face tougher assignments. You don't want to implement the above suggestions when she actually needs tutoring.

Good Luck!

R. Magby

5 moms found this helpful

First off, what you are doing now is not working - so scratch off the constant punishments and threats. You should be rewarding her good behavior instead of putting the focus only on the negative. I answered something else similar on this board earlier - you child isn't lazy, they just choose not to be dictated to by her demanding teachers, forcing her to do something she doesn't feel she wants or needs to do. She's an A student and smart, and losing that in a school environment. Read these books, it will enlighten YOU as the parent about what SHE is going through.

You need to read a few books which will help clarify this for you (you can get them on amazon quite inexpensively). Here are the links:




4 moms found this helpful

I highly suggest that you read the Love and Logic book about teaching responsibility. (I can't remember the exact name of it-- but it's by Cline and Fay)
Even though it seems counter-productive, you may need to take a step back and let her make the decisions about doing or not doing her homework. Then let her face the consequences of that-- even if that means she's held back a grade. Read the book, and you will understand!
Homework is not the issue in my house, but the love and logic techniques have been a MAJOR help to my family and I am much less stressed, and therefore a better mom.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful

You are in a tough place being a stepmom. She is probably still getting used to your place in her life which can take years, if at all. I just took a parenting course which was a real eye opener for me. I found that my techniques of "forcing" and "taking away" was exactly the opposite that my kids need to be motivated. That only pushes them further away. They book "The Incredible Years" A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Chalenging and Spirited Children would be a good place for ideas for you. The entire process is motivation based through consitent one-on-one time with the child and developing new habits by co-creating and co-implementing motivational charts and things. Let her decide what she can earn from 10 minute chunks of time doing what you need her to. Have a currency she can earn to buy from a "store" of things like: tv time, a game with Mom or Dad, time on the phone with a friend, pick a dinner, out for ice cream. Let her pick the motivators with your and your husbands guidance (his involvment and the birth Mom's involvement will be key). Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful

We have exactly the same issue with a very bright but unmotivated 11 year old. What I have found is that I need to be much more involved in the entire homework process than I was previously. My stepdaughter is extremely social and so I think part of the reason she was rushing through things or "forgetting" that she had homework to do was because she couldn't stand the thought of missing out on any social opportunity. Keeping this in mind, I have made more of an effort to check in with her while she is doinjg her work, or jsut sit in her room with her and read or do my own thing (time permitting) . Iam also home after school most days and understand how sressful it can be and how it is often a constant struggle! Try to remember also, that she is probably hitting puberty about now and homework may all of a sudden seem sooo much less important to her than all of the other things on her mind. I would suggest keeping in close contact with her teacher at least via email and find out if her teachers post daily or weekly homework information online. I have found that unless I really keep up on what is due and when, our 11 year old will conveniently forget EVERYTHING until the very last minute and just fly through the work putting very little effort into it. At any rate, my suggestions are to A. Keep in close contact with her teachers and ask them for advice, and B. Help her with time management skills because if she is seeming lazy now, next year in middle school will be super hard for her, and C. Remember that puberty hormones may be telling her to pay more attention to things other than homework.

Good Luck!

3 moms found this helpful

Maybe she needs a little break after school...snack, down-time for 30 minutes to an hour. I found that my son did his homework better right after dinner. Trying to get him to do it as soon as he got home was just too much and caused arguements.

3 moms found this helpful

Wow, "force" is such a powerfully negative word, and if that's what you end up doing, in practice or in spirit, it's not too likely to bear positive fruit.

I was also an underachiever in school. Homework was for the most part repetitive busywork, and deadly boring. My resentment toward my over-controlling mother was probably part of my problem; hard as she tried, she could not *make* me do my homework, though there was much grief in our household over my "laziness." I know she earnestly wanted me to "fit in," but I wasn't lazy, I was other-directed, and as I look back now, pretty smart for not wasting my valuable life on unnecessary effort. (I also have learned, much after the fact, that I was/am ADHD.)

Why would I want to drill on math or grammar or history facts that I already knew, when I could be investing that time in independent studies into geography (through stamp collecting and map reading), biology (through raising tropical fish and gardening), astronomy (I read every book in the library), geology/minerology (through rock collecting and much more reading), or art (I am today a graphic designer and illustrator, and I also edit a series of hands-on science books that my husband writes). I also started reading philosophy at an early age. Now that homeschooling is such a popular idea, I recognize that I largely homeschooled myself.

I have this anguished (because it's probably out of reach) longing for schools to recognize that homework is not good or necessary for all students. I could have gotten straight A's if not for homework that I didn't turn in. I was usually able to ace tests and give the right answer if called on in class, but the "rules" dictated that cookie-cutter repetition would somehow make me a better person. Ugh – so many of my school memories are tainted by everyone's dissapointment and pressure.

If your daughter is bright and lively, why not leave her educational achievements up to her? I did this (to some extent) with my daughter, and she got from her education what she needed, went on to get the secondary education that would help her achieve her goals, and is highly successful today.

Or, here's an even less conventional idea: if she's doing reasonably well in school, why not intervene on her behalf with her teacher(s)? Ask whether she can be allowed to cut back on at least the busywork assignments if she participates in class and makes passing grades on tests. Perhaps she could choose some extra-credit projects to demonstrate her interest in areas that excite her. (A caveat: Teachers today are overburdened as it is, and asking for special consideration may get you tagged as a problem parent.)

I'd like to add that I have very little college in my resume, and yet have creative, demanding work that I love and that suits me perfectly. I have multiple acquaintances in similar situations. So if your concern is that your daughter will not qualify for a top-ranked college, keep in mind that there are millions of successful and happy people who have taken alternative routes to realizing their potential.

Good luck. I'm sure you're proud of your daughter just for being who she is. I hope you'll be able to support her uniqueness!

2 moms found this helpful

I don't have kids this age yet, but I have heard that some kids that fight the homework and are otherwise very bright might either have a learning disability like dislexia or even need to get glasses. Just a suggestion, you know your kid the best, just things I have heard about.

1 mom found this helpful

She sounds angry and if she is purposefully not doing it because you want her to then maybe she has a problem with you. Talk to her, maybe you could spend a little more time with her. If all else fails or she can't tell you why then I would think that you have no choice but to ground her where she would go no where but school. OR you could buy her something that she really really wants and give it to her when she brings home a report saying she has done all her work for the entire 6 weeks. OR you could take her to a psychologist and let her talk to a professional to find out why and where the anger is coming from.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

If she doesn't have a learning disability and she is just being lazy, she will outgrow it. I couldn't say when, but she will grow up and become more responsible. Try offering her money for A's and B's. Or money for pages completed. I think I gave my son a nickl or dime per page at one time. Maybe she is sensitive to sugar. I took my son off sugar and the anger subsided. He fights me on it and does eat some sugar. If he gets out of hand, back off sugar again. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Just because her grades are bad doesn't mean she is not bright. The schools only look at those composite grades, they only recognize the "gifted" and the "underachievers" but there are no programs for the "gifted underachievers". Have your child tested. Chances are the school system does not have what it takes to challenged your bright child and so your child has become unmotivated and bored.

There are more GIFTED UNDERACHIEVERS in the school system, all thanks to "no child left behind" the majority get held back so that no child gets left behind. Where has our educational system gone?

Wow, I would tell her if she doesn't do her work she will stay in the grade she is in and will be left behind all her friends. Try to let her peers motivate her. It might take serious research to find what you could take away to really motivate her. Maybe no presents for Christmas or birthday maybe even no birthday party until consistent improvement is maintained.
I currently do what Rebecca Magby suggested with my 8 year old. Mary F's advise sounds geat too.

I was your daughter too. I guess there are a lot of us out there. My mom made me do my homework at the library and it worked. There are little to no distractions and I wanted to get my work done and go home. I also had a teacher who offered (very nice of her) to allow me to stay in the classroom (while she graded and prepared for the next day) to do my homework. Since she knew what actually needed to be done it was always completed. That year I was a straight A student.

Sadly, I do not think you can really motivate her - just hover.

Good luck!

I am your daughter, now grown up. In elemtary school they threataned to keep me back and make me take summer school if I did not keep a B average. I knew that my parents would follow through and so I kept my grades a B average. They knew I could get A's so I am not sure why they choose B. Also they checked my homework everynight and if it was not done I stayed up till it was done and done right. If I remember right it took about a week of no sleep to realize it was easier to just do it when I got home then to just sit around doing nothing and then having to stay up. This is what they did-they would remind when I got home and went over what needed to be done, there was no TV, no friends, no phone, no activites. The only thing I could do was sit at the table. I missed a couple of dance lessons. My mom or dad would go about doing what they needed to do and left me there. If I tried to leave they would calmly tell me to go back to the table. Dinner was ready I would help set the table, eat, clean up, then sit.... I was very stubborn..It worked, I got bored and knew they were not going to give in...
In junior high when I started to do this again they let me fail a class (8th grade algebra and my mom is a math teacher) and they made it take it over, how embarrassing!!
Good luck your daughter and follow through!

Fortunately you are home in the afternoons and can hover over her, which is exactly the right thing. Hopefully she will eventually find some intrinsic motivation, but until she does, just keep on doing what you have been doing. It is really important that you are consistent, so don't feel inclined to give her back any privileges until she earns them, but make her goals small enough that she will be able to achieve them.
My sister has also found that it helps to work closely with the teachers. They agreed to sign her homework planner so she would not simply "forget" some of her assignments, and my sister did the same for the teachers to double check.
Sometimes it is helpful to bring in an outside tutor (this could be a high school kid) to help with homework once or twice a week. Many kids your daughter's age look up to teenagers and will want to impress them.

There have been so many studies done about kids starting to fail school in their tween and teens and most of them have a pretty straightforward outcome: the more parents stay involved with their kids, the more likely these kids are to turn a corner.

Good luck!

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