18 answers

Teenage Son Who Refuses to Do Homework

I need some help with my 15 year old son... He has REFUSED to do his home work and is now getting F in three classes. We have tried everything, talking with teachers, tutors, going to school and sitting in the libruary after school till he finishes all homework for that day but nothing seems to work and he is now lying about doing it and whether he has turned it in. I have even found finished assigments in his back pack that he just doesnt turn in. We have taken away the ps3, cell phone, etc. and it hasnt helped... He is angry and has the poor me attitude. His teachers say he is well behaved in school and does some sports. Any suggestions would be great!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much to all who replied. We took my son to see a counselor who told us that my son just gave up! He really wants to do well and just doesnt know how to keep up. He also said that because my son has vitiligo that has spread to his face he is feeling pressure from other kids and feeling of not fitting in. He referred us to a doctor and had him tested for adhd. He tested 7 out of the 9 critera for add and only one for the hyper part. We have decided to try meds on a low dose and see how it goes.
My son is actually happy to try this and says if it helps him to do better in class he is all for it. I will keep updating to let you know if this works.
I was very impressed with how my son handled going to the counselor and we will keep with that also for a while.
Again Thank you for all the great advice!!

Featured Answers

There may be something deeper going on that has nothing to do with his homework. May be his way of dealing with something he doesn't know how to handle.

I'm going out on a limb, but perhaps a tutor would help. If he's struggling, this may be causing some of his "attitude" problem.

More Answers

You don't say whether this is a new thing or whether his schoolwork has always been a struggle. If it is a new thing, then I would be on the look out for possible connection with drugs, depression or other major change that could explain it. If he has always resisted then it is time to get help. You and he need to understand his strengths and how he can use those to his advantage. You also need to understand whether there are any underlying learning issues or whether he has missed so many concepts in the past that it is making learning the new material more difficult. Consider an assessment at a tutoring center as a starting point to uncover holes in his skills.

Then sit down and have some heart-to-heart conversations where you mostly listen and mirror back what he says. Ask about his feelings when he does turn in work vs. not turning in work. What frustrates him about school, what does he enjoy? Does he like project based learning, does he feel the homework is pointless? Does he enjoy success or is the fear of failure too overwhelming to enjoy when he is successful? What are his views of his teachers? What are his friends attitudes about school? Don't offer advice or solutions, just listen. Then ask him to think of possible ways that he can feel supported (rather than cornered or threatened). This does not have to be all in one sit down time. Work toward goal setting and a reward based system rather than a punishment based system since that isn't working. If these conversations aren't possible with your current relationship with him then seriously consider working with a relationship coach or family therapist who can help open up these types of conversations in a supportive way. They also can help clear away misunderstandings and keep people honest in their answers and responses.

Good luck and power to you as a caring parent.

1 mom found this helpful

My friend has a great solution to have her teen boys turn in their homework. They have to have a certain GPA for the semester before they turn 16 or they will not get their driver's license. One turns 16 in December, so if he doesn't do it in the Spring, he needs to wait until January to get his license. It has worked wonders for her.

My daughter wasn't turning in things also and we ended up taking her to counseling for depression. She has now started to care again and has started to turn things in. The other thing that worked for her was grounding her on a daily basis depending on what was not done the day before. Long term things didn't work.

1 mom found this helpful

It's time to schedule an appointment for some help with a professional if you can't get your child to talk to find out with is at the root of the problem. It sounds like something might have happened or he might be suffering from depression.

He needs to be inspired. What does he want to do with his life? What are his hobby's and interests? What is he into? Does he like to read? Play video games? Music? Find his hot button and feed it! Maybe he dreams of being a video game creator - help him start a blog and review games online to help him find and follow his passion. If you can find his passion you can show him how important graduating can be! Find books on successful teen entrepreneurs to show him how important following your dreams can be!

If that doesn't work maybe it's time to shake things up and call your local police department to see if you can make an appointment for a visit. Only go if your local police department will tell your son that there is a correlation between flunking out of school and ending up doing time. Seeing where the other half lives might make the point much better than saying it. The goal is to inspire him to graduation with good grades to follow his dreams.

We took in my troubled 14 year old sister last fall and had a similar problem with with homework. What we ended up doing was 1) being in daily email communication with the teachers and 2) we made her do the "missing assignments" even if they couldn't be turned in for credit. After about 2 weeks of having to do assignments that she didn't get credit for -- she started just DOING the work.

I'd like to say the lessons stuck, but she has been back with her Dad for two months and is again failing 3 classes.

Just remain consistent!

Hi K.. Check into Sparta HighPoint Charter School. My son attended the public junior high and was an honor roll student. He used to stay up until 11 o'clock at night studying. He was so stressed, trying to keep up with all of the assignments. One day, he just dumped his grades and went to C's D's nad F's. At Highpoint, they do not have homework. They work very hard during the day. Also, there are no grades. They choose the areas of study that interest them. Highpoint students also have a higher college acceptance rate than the public system. The classroom is non-traditional and the teachers are progressive. If you can take the stress of homework out of your child's life and the terrible feelings about getting 'bad' grades, and allow him to study what he wants to study, something he cares about, there is a chance that he will be happier and perform much better. May not be for you, but look into it.

Okay I have to respond as a parent who has literally been there done that. I was like your son, I hated school, hated all the homework, and if I did get the homework done I didn't care to turn it in. My grades improved when I was a cheerleader but that was because if they slipped I couldn't cheer. My parents tried grounding me, talking with teachers, helping me out, tutors, but none of it worked. What finally worked and this was after I had children I was diagnosed with Bipolar and Adult ADD. Medication has helped me being able to focus on what I want and what my family needs. With that I have been able to go back to school and I am getting good grades this time around. It is just so much easier to be able to think with a clear head, not one that is cluttered with so much junk that you can't fish stuff out of - for me that's what it felt like.

Good Luck everything will work out in the end. Just take him in and see if he needs professional help. Being able to talk to a third party has been a lifesaver for me and my family.



Our son did the same thing. He scored high on his tests but refused to do his homework all throughout high school. He had F's in many of his classes. He also has ADD.

We tried everything from medications to scolding, to grounding to meetings with teachers to setting up schedules with teachers and having sign off sheets...

Long story short. He hated his school. He did graduate, but barely. The teachers all thought he was brilliant, he just wasn't applying himself.

He didn't go to college right away. he worked at McDonald's then PNS.

He'll be 22 this month...he's in college at a tech school getting straight A's and is on the Deans list.

He just hated his school. Now he's into something he loves. It's holding his interest and he's paying for it so he's applying himself.

He started his schooling last year.

So, I guess my words of advice would be to hang in there.

Our daughter did the same thing to us. But she turned it around her senior year. Made up all the classes, graduated and made it on the honor roll.

Things can change.

Hang in there and just love your kids and keep giving them support.


Have you threatened to go sit in his classroom with him during school? It sounds like he has other issues and you need to get to the bottom of them. If you are concerned about drugs, go to a pharmacy (Walgreens) and buy a drug testing kit. Rule that out before you exhaust other avenues. Test for learning disabilities. Most of all try to get him to open up and TALK.

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