11 answers

My Child Refuses to Do School Work.

My 11 year old, has pretty much decided to quit doing her school work whether at school or home, she is very sweet and loving but sits there and does nothing at school. She is capable of doing the work because she is in special ed and her work is tailored to her. The only priviledge she has left is breathing and eating, Please help!!! What else can I do?? She will sit at the table until bedtime without complaining and still not get anything done. I can sit with her some of the time but then I end up giving her all the answers.We don't hit our children and have talked, threatened and taken everything away from her she couldn't care less. Please write me back with any suggestion.

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So What Happened?™

Thank You for the advice, we sat down and talked with her and she did admit that if she brings her work home she knows I will help her do most of it. Well let me tell you I did no homework this weekend and she did finish it all (amazing). We will keep trying some different things out that were suggested. Thanks a bunch. J.

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Since negative consequences aren't working, how about positive ones? Try setting an attainable goal, like completing all her homework for one week, and once she does it, going and doing something one on one with her that she would enjoy, like going ice skating or shopping without the other kids. Once she accomplishes one thing, try making the goals and the rewards bigger. This is what we're trying with my two stepchildren, both of whom are struggling in school. It's a long process--they don't always accomplish the goals even with a carrot dangling in front of them, but they do start to get a sense of accomplishment when the goals are met and reinforced with stuff they really want. Good luck!

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I guess since the one way doesn't seem to work, give her a goal to earn something back. If you do X, then you'll get Y type thing.
Have you talked to teachers at all to see what they notice at school as to anything different? New friends? Harder work?

Since negative consequences aren't working, how about positive ones? Try setting an attainable goal, like completing all her homework for one week, and once she does it, going and doing something one on one with her that she would enjoy, like going ice skating or shopping without the other kids. Once she accomplishes one thing, try making the goals and the rewards bigger. This is what we're trying with my two stepchildren, both of whom are struggling in school. It's a long process--they don't always accomplish the goals even with a carrot dangling in front of them, but they do start to get a sense of accomplishment when the goals are met and reinforced with stuff they really want. Good luck!

My son suffered a brain injury when he was 4 resulting in him having to have special education. We had these same issues. I finally had to put my foot down and insist that they complete all work at school because it was too stressful for him to go all day at school then come home and continue to do school work he needed a break. He had a wonderful case worker during his elementary and middle schools years. Since he has been in high school I have had to put my foot down yet again and threaten his case worker to get her on the ball. It sounds to me like something has happened. Have you tried talking to her because our special needs kids as well as our kids that aren't wear their hearts on their sleeves and if someone says something that hurts their feelings they may react in a number of ways. Sometimes you have to try different tactics to get it out of them but it sounds to me like she is responding to something that was said or done to her. It is the schools responsibility to make sure she is getting the education and completing her work.
Grounding and taking things away from our son seem to do the trick but there was a time when he didn't give a hoot either until we got to the bottom of things.
He is also rewarded for a job well done. It is hard! If you need to chat more let me know I have been in the system with special Ed for about 8 years now. Kids go through different stages sometimes they will try to use their hinderances as an excuse not to have to do anything. I won't except that my son tried that one and we watched some movies about challenged individuals who overcame all obstacles and had amazing stories to tell, They didn't use it as an excuse to give up.
enough of the rambling hope this helps some

I taught high school for 5 years and saw two different types of special education kiddos with respect to how they dealt with their label (becaus they have been labelled). Some of my kids took the help they were given and worked their butts off. They were my best students and could have taught a lot to the other so-called average kids in my classes. The other group was much more prominent. They were kids that would tell you, "I'm dumb so why bother." I don't know when that transformation takes place, but I wonder if your daughter is feelling labelled or stigmatized. She may not want to vocalize it. You say she is capable of the work b/c it is tailored for her. That may hurt her feelings. Maybe she feels like she'll never be able to do normal work, so why bother with the dumb work. I don't know. I can just tell you what I saw after the kids had been in the special education system for several years. It is a shame, b/c really most of the kids that had given up just needed things refrased or to look at them a different way. I bet your daughter is absolutely great at something. The trick is to get everything to mesh that way. For example, if she is good at music, a lot can be learned by putting things to tunes. If she is an animal lover, a lot of comparisons, similies and etc. might work. I wish you the best of luck as you struggle with this. I think your first step is to try to have a conversation with her to find the root of the problem. That might be hard because she is too young to really know herself. Good luck!

Dear J., I am sorry, but you are mistaken. You have described MY child to a T. I've tried every punishment and positive reinforcement known to mankind (within legal confines of course). My daughter is now 12. We've been going through this dilemma since the first grade. In years past, I have offered rewards for good grades and effort, and she would work hard enough to get the reward and then go back to failing. I literally mean from A's to F's. Like you, I have also taken everything in her life away; I've wanted to take her life away (teasing of course), at which point she is initially unphased and then proceeds to think the world is out to get her. I've had long heart-to-heart begging sessions, long heart-to-heart "killing" sessions. I've reached the end of my rope and fallen off of it. I've tried something new this school year. She must have a grade of 80 or above in order to have any free time. I will help her with her homework if she asks for help, but not nag or hound her to do her work. Each Friday I check her grades online and/or talk to her teachers to check her grade and progress and any problems they see. But again, the requirements and objectives are simple: there is no leeway. 80 or better: free time. Less than 80: no free time. I don't inform her, but if she is legitimately having trouble with a particular subject and has clearly put forth the effort, I will invent a reason for her to go play. She has clear goals and objectives, and the rewards and consequences are understood ahead of time, thus putting her in control. This has relieved a lot of evening family "homework blues" stress. So far, this has been working well and has lasted longer than any other system I have tried. I don't know if this will work for you and your situation, but it might be worth a try. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone as a parent with this problem. Good luck and Semper Fi.

I have never had this problem at home, but did encounter it when I taught. I would suggest moving toward the positive. Come up with a system of rewards. All kids, no matter the age, like to get positive feedback and rewards. You need to find out what will motivate her. Hope this helps. Good luck.

I totally feel for you and understand your problem. I have a 14 year old that is ADHD and I have the same problems with her. The only thing that you can do is keep at it with her. I would not suggest doing so much punishment at home, but more so on the school and friend side of it.

As for the doing the work for her, I go through this too. I have learned one important thing with my daughter, I set a boundry and stick to it. I tell her that she has to try for 5 minutes, (really try) and then I will help her with one problem then she needs to do the next two by herself.

Each child is different, so what works for me may not work for you. Just keep at it and know you are not alone. Have you tried a reward program with her? That worked for my daughter for awhile. I used poker chips and the colors represented different things. White one day of homework completed and blue was for good grades and red was for work at home like chores. Then she cashed them in for rewards. Dont make them huge rewards unless she has a bunch of the chips and holds them till the end of the school year. Then make her reward something like a Saturday Play day with Mom, or a World's of Fun trip. Something you know she would really like.

I hope this helps and you can contact me for anything else or if you just need to blow off steam.
Good Luck,

Only because I've been through a similar situation. I am giving the advice of "quit taking things away". Taking her favorite things away or giving punishment is only causing more anquish over the ordeal. For whatever the reason she doesn't want to do the work. You mentioned she is currently in special ed, which tells me there is already a noted learning disability. I venture to guess she realizes the deficit and therefore is turning it into "I'm not going to do my homework. I may fail again." Pointing out her failures (not doing homework) by taking away things is only making her self-worth worse. Look for positive re-enforcement. Look for every tiny little good thing that she does and "blow it up" as a positive. i.e. she put her cup back in the sink or dishwasher when she was done with it. Praise her for such an accomplishment. For every negative comment or action she is fed, you need to build her back up with at least five positive things. I know it seems strange. It killed me to learn to do it. I'm not a praising type person. But once I forced myself to do it my son gained some much needed self esteem and slowly, and I do mean slowly, began doing things just to get the praise.

Good luck!

What you might want to try is letting her fail. That way she will understand the consequences of her choices. I believe it is better for them to learn it early in life then later.... the consequences are usually a lot less severe. So, if she refuses to do her homework, let her do that. You could communicate with the school/teacher what your plan is. I bet a couple of times in the principles office and/or detention might wake her up!? I hope this might shed a little light. Good luck in any decision you decide.


What does her teacher say? Have you talked to the counselor - has she? How does she get along with her peers? Does she get rewards at school or does she care about that? Is she an introvert or extrovert personality? I am asking these things as I am in kind of the same boat with my 10 year old son. He is always defensive. Last year, in tears and screaming (yes), he claimed his teacher "hated him." When I approached her with a "team effort" in regards to his feelings, thinking he was imaging things, she gave me dead silence, then said "Well, I try to help him." I know my son is not perfect and does things to get attention and is not blameless. I tend to take the teacher's end )other than last year), as he is the child and she is the adult, but he has such a bad attitude in regards to doing it. He can do it, he has gotten behind and I don't know what to do either. I know there are other issues on our end, but I hope you find out your daughter's issues. We are thinking of talking to Sylvan to see if that helps our situation. Have you considered a tudor or a A+ student as a mentor? Hope you find some answers!

Oh J.,
How I feel for you. Well pardin my French but you are going to have to get real, real shitty with her. I mean at this point you have only taken away priveleges you need to take away more than that. So you go in her room and you take everything away, her blow dryer, her favorite pair of shoes, and don't forget her clothes, etc.

The only thing she should have in her room is her bed, a pillow, and the sheets and blankets on her bed. You see we as parents only have to provide her basic needs...clothes on her back, food in her belly, a roof over her head, thats it. Let her know that until she can do her school work you will pick out her clothes, you will pick out her shoes, she will eat the food that is in front of her and the drink in her cup (water of course), let her know that if she can't handle doing her school work than she can't handle the finer things in life and the responsibility that goes with it. I'm not kidding either, you see she thinks shes got you over a barrel, this is the battle of the wills. She thinks there is nothing you can do to make her do her school, boy is she wrong...you can make her life a living hell. Let her know when she starts coming to her senses she can start having her things back.

You see I went through this with my son (16 yrs old, only it was in his Freshman year of high school, and we took eveything away and I mean everything. He is now to the point that he has 2 hours of playing Xbox or computer as long as he has no homework to do. If he does homework has to be completed first. My kids go to the Independence school district and on there they have what is called power school, where we can log in and see what the teacher has assinged for them to do and if they have turned in previously assigned work. He is salso able to go hang out with his friends as long as all assignments have no 0's.

I'm telling you hit it hard now with her, make it her worst nightmare, make her realize that doing homework is the best option she has. Let her start from scratch with the things she has. Don't let her out of your sight, don't allow her to go in her room, make her stay with you guys as a family to see what she is doing now and what she could be doing. Don't let her answer the phone, don't let her talk to friends, let her know that if you have to you will take a leave of absence from work and homeschool her.
I have been down the same road you are on right now, Thank God I am on this side of it finally. Well I think you get the point to what I'm saying, so I'll hush now. Anyway goodluck W.

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