Academic Punishment? AAAAHHH

Updated on January 21, 2009
M.H. asks from Crown Point, IN
14 answers

Hi Moms~

I am in need of some advice really bad here! My son, he is in 6th grade. He loves his sports, popularity, clothes, friends...everything that just does matter. He is a great kid and all the parents love him. He is very polite and friendly. A bit naive. The one thing he is lacking is he is exceptionally LAZY. I know it is the age. But, his laziness has gone from just at home to his academics. He is not organized which means not turning in assignments. We have done everything under the sun to get him there. He is getting mostly "C" grades. I know he can do better. Many assignments are left in his locker or are lost which brings his grade down. I have told him all year that if his grades are not good then I will not sign him up for baseball. His main love. Sign ups are ending online in a few days and I am struggling whether or not to sign him up. My husband (his stepfather) thinks that this punishment will not teach him anything. during the season he will mope around and make us all insane. aaaahh! I need to keep my word though and let him know that this is not ok.


Let me just say a couple of more things. I have taken those things away as Mary suggested...NOT WORKING. Baseball is the only thing that matters. Sign ups are now. This is the time I need him to realize it is serious. I only have a few days left to decide. I have also talked to teachers...I need something else that works. Do I or do I not sign him up for baseball? I agree that with my first response about the benefits of it.......i am really torn!

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Yikes...Well, my husband and I decided to sign him up. He does not know that we decided to. He won't find out til March. I have taken a couple of ideas from you moms and I am hoping to see some progress happen now. My son does not have ADHD or ADD, he is just simply LAZY. I plan on giving him points for progress during the week and reward him, he was excited about that..LOL! Nothing extravagant, just getting his phone, computer, tv, video games back. I also, have been in touch with most of his teachers (the ones that care, most of them just don't) and the guidance counselor as well. Hopefully we are on track now..thanks for thoughts and responses. This was a VERY difficult choice for me.

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answers from Chicago on

Maybe instead of taking things away from him, try talking to his teachers. Get them involved as much as possible and be very consistent with follow-through. When I was his age I had the exact same problem - half the time I forgot about homework and/or left the materials I needed at school. Had my parents been more focused on helping me academically instead of punishing me, I know I would have had more successes in school. I was never a bad student, I just lacked the skills necessary to be an excellent student. Help him - talk to his teachers, talk to other parents to find out what they are doing to help their kids. Know what is going on at school at all times, not just when progress reports come out. School is the most important thing in his life!
Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

I agree with Ellen in that your son has called your bluff. Now what are you going to do about it?

Personally, I would let him be in baseball. I would also sit down with him and figure out ways he can be more organized and stop with the lazy label. Are you in touch with his teachers? What would help him the most? Does he have an assignment notebook? If he doesn't have an assignment notebook (which you should be looking at and initialling on a daily basis), get him one.

As a parent, you need to sit on him for awhile until he gets the hang of actually turning in his assignments. He's 11, not 16. If he doesn't turn them in, then you punish (take away computer, make him sit out a baseball game, can't see friends, etc). Lay everything out ahead of time - make a contract so there is no surprises. I would also give him some additional responsibility (chores)around the house if he's really going to challenge you to see if you're serious.

Most importantly, no more waffling on your part, mom. You need to be consistent and more involved.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sign him up and work the rest of the winter/early spring to bring his grades up. If its an in-house league, he won't start practicing for several months. If he doesn't improve, don't let him play. But, it doesn't hurt to sign him up.

Step 2 - teach him how to be organized and help him until it becomes habbit.

You, your husband and his father (and step-mother, if applicable) have to step it up. Homework is done immediately upon getting home from school - no TV, no video games, etc. A snack and a parent (or babysitter) are ready to sit with him and get it done and get it done right.

Pack everything up for the next day as soon as you're done, and you're both free for the evening to enjoy each other and everyone else.

It's like constantly yelling at a toddler to stop writing on the walls, threatening a punishment and never just walking over and taking the crayon from their hand.

He sounds like a great kid, but he needs help getting organized and disciplined with his homework. They start piling on the paperwork in 6th grade. It would be hard for any of us to keep it all straight without having been taught how to do it.

You can get through this. Make it a positive experience and get him started on the right path with strong study habits. He's going to need them more and more every year!

Best of luck. (mom to a 7th grade boy....)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It's sad because your son has called your bluff - and he knows it. And you are the one wrestling with whether you are doing the right thing, or not. What I don't like about this is the fact that you believe "his punishment" will be "your punishment". I wouldn't have my son moping around.... I would figure out the time that he WOULD HAVE been spending in baseball all week and use that as his chore time. While he is punished, what will he be doing for the betterment of YOUR home????

Before we go on, I just want to make sure that you have addressed any kind of learning disability (ADD, ADHD)? Do you believe that his behavior is because he is lazy or is he really having a hard time focusing? Sometimes ADD and ADHD can mimic laziness and the lack of focus that you are describing. I have a son about your child's age and, no, I would not describe my son as lazy. From time to time, I have to stay on top of his chores, at this point in his life, it's not an option for him to do second-rate work or to be careless in his schoolwork because, anything over and above school is a privilege for him to enjoy. I'm praying there is never room for that in his life.

I'm very careful about what I offer as a punishment because...

1) It should fit the crime
2) I, personally, believe in fair warning.
3) it should be effective for them (finding their achilles heel)
4) It should be timely.

So, my thought is... your punishment REALLY does fit the crime and event (edit) Sure you feel bad - but please feel bad for the right reason and that is, YOU BELIEVED IN HIM AND HE LET YOU DOWN! If this is what it takes - - HE KNEW the consequences! He KNEW sign-up was this early. And yet, he STILL fluffed off!

There is always Fall Ball! Shame on him!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I think the other moms are right. you need a much more active approach to consequence. If he is missing assignments on friday then no computer till the next friday. then keep that till the next friday. and if he is still missing assignments that next friday you take away the next thing the tv or video game etc. we had to do this with sam our 7th grader. what we did was I wrote a note on the top of a pc of typing paper. it said


the put a line for each teacher's name. then the teach either wrote yes he was caught up or listed the assignments he needed to catch up on. Then sam had the choice of catching up or loosing privleges. it works. not saying we didn't do it several times but it does work.

a built in consequence at school also was when they get way behind they get detentions. 2 detentions they lose the privilege of going on a jr high field trip.

But a second note here. c's while you would like higher are not really bad grades. maybe instead of taking away things you should consider offering something extra for harder or more work and better grades.



answers from Chicago on

Oh my gosh, I read your response and thought "When did I post that?" My son is exactly the same. Luckily my son's grades are still good but at every conference we are told. Imagine what he could do if he wasn't so lazy!

In any case we were desperate too. We actually visited a military school to see if that would help him learn his true potential. While we were there we learned about their system of motivation. I have to say I love it and IT WORKS! He has two points systems: PAR (Personal Achievement Requirements) and Merit (behavior) that we added to our home based on their system.

Basically--We set his PAR at a percentage that we know is achievable and acceptable to us. I average his grades on a daily basis. If he doesn't reach PAR daily he gets no TV, no computer, no video games, no friends. For the weekend he has to reach PAR for a weekly average. It is hard to keep track of at first but you get into a routine.

Merit points. He must have 50 merit points for the things listed above. He loses merit points for carelessness and laziness. He earns merit points for making PAR each day and other things that show he cares about himself and/or others. You can tweek the system to focus on what you need him to work on.

I know this is hard to explain over email but it works for us. If you want a copy of our system I can email you my son's Excel spreadsheet that might explain it better. It sounds more difficult than it is to implement.

What I love about it is that he is rewarded and punished sort of at the same time. It is immediate and on paper so he can see what he does that is good and what needs improvement.



answers from Chicago on

Well, I agree with the others that since baseball is so far away, it may not get the point across ASAP.

How much does it cost to sign him up? Maybe sign him up and then IF he doesn't shape up then don't let him play. Like the other Mom said, even if it's on a game to game basis. He can go to the game and WATCH - which is TORTURE and I hated it while I was pregnant.

In truth, as much as my husband and I are sports freaks, grades will always come first. And the fact that his grades are because of lack of effort and not actually struggling with the material - I'd be going as crazy as you are. Unacceptable.

Besides baseball, there HAS to be other things that he has that you can take away. TV, phone, TEXTING, internet, video games...something. I know you said you've tried all those, but is there something else that you may be missing?

Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

I hate to say it but since you are using baseball as barter you have to really stick to your guns. However, now that's done find a way around it. Sign him up with the promise that he will do well and if not he will miss a game or two. He needs to know that the people in charge mean what they say. I have done things like that myself and wanted to kick myself later on (no nintendo oh, how will live through the day?) Good luck...



answers from Chicago on

It sounds like your son may not know HOW to keep himself organized. That's a big skill and not always something that is taught in school, or if it was taught, maybe he didn't quite get it. Oftentimes "laziness" is just the person going into apathy over the subject because they don't know where to start or what to do, so they do nothing.

I would talk to his teachers and see what kind of a system the school uses. Some schools have their own methods of helping the kids like separate folders or making the kids use 3-ring binders. If they don't have one you can make up your own.

He needs a good system, whether it be something simple like folding up the assignment and putting it in the book, writing it down in one notebook, or having a folder system. Helping him learn how to be organized will be a great lesson for life! You might need to check up on him in the beginning making sure he's writing down his assignments. At age 11 the teachers stop hand-holding so maybe he got used to relying on them to remind him.

Also, make sure he's being challenged in school. Sometimes laziness is a result of being understimulated, and taking away things like baseball will only make it worse. He may need MORE responsibility, not less! And if you do take away things like video time, make sure it's filled with other responsibilities, like sorting laundry :) We found that taking away a toy just leads to another toy being played with in its place. But taking away playtime and replacing it with housework is a much better consequence. We don't make housework the punishment, but phrase it as "you're not doing YOUR JOB as a student/child/member of the family. We are taking OUR TIME to help you. So you need to make this up to the family because we are a FAMILY and we work together." Works every time :)

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

I too have a somewhat disorganized and LAZY 7th grader I get where you are coming from. Since he is nit really failing in any subject but you know he can do better then sign him up but do not tell him until later. Or make a contract with him I know there many games and practices these can all be conditional on a week by week basis . If all school work is completed and turn in on time then you get to go to game and practice if not no way and stick to it.
Also what has worked in my house is not take thing but give more like having do the siblings chores, and some of moms chores and any other thing I can think of instead that really hurt the kid more then taking away tv, computer time or being out with friends. Trust your gut your first reaction to signing him up or not. Good Luck!
J. O



answers from Chicago on

My kids are not as old as he is yet, but I say "get him where it hurts" so to speak, because if he calls your bluff then what? Some kids need to learn things the hard way (I was definately one of those kids myself LOL). Although, I hated it at the time, it taught me a lot of perseverance, integrity, and accountability for my actions. I mean, let's face it, when he grows up, and gets a job, a "half a&*" job doesn't cut it with your boss, and where do we learn the lessons in our life to teach us that? The groundwork is laid in childhood. He may most definatley make you miserable for the season, but on the same token you can point out to him that a. he brought it on himself and he needs to be accountable for his choices, and b. he may not realize it right now, but it is for his own good. He may also discover other interests, hobbies, etc. that he really enjoys by you doing this. You are a great MOM, and no mother wants to take away someting their child loves, even when they deserve it, but you will be giving him the best gift of all, a sense of accountability...something a lot of kids and adults are lacking today. Good luck and hang in there.



answers from Chicago on

I think you should encourage him to have experience that allow him to have the feedback loop of working hard, improving, succeeding. Baseball will give him that experience, so I think in the long run it will be better for him to participate.

How to get out of your promised punishment is another question, though. Is there any way to give shorter-time, more positive consequences, working with his teacher? Like, if he turns in everything this week, he gets x amount of video game time or something like that?



answers from Chicago on

I would sign him up, but stress the importance of the grades and school work and that this whole thing is a partnership between you. Help him with some organization skills. provide the checks and balances to keep him focused. Also, is there a possibility that he has ADHD? not every kid is hyperactive and uncontrollable that way.



answers from Springfield on

I think baseball season is too far off to use as a realistic consequence. Maybe if the behavior is still ongoing once baseball season is here he can go to the game and watch and not be allowed to participate as a punishment (works very well). For now, you need an immediate and real consequence to make this stick! Take away friends, games and all other activities when grades fall. Stick to it! I have discovered that the hardest part of discipling a child is sticking to it because it isn't convient for me! My now 16 year old spent lots of time grounded from everything when grades fell. My 8 and 10 year olds spend lots of time in their rooms when things don't go as they should. Take away the immediate gratification things... phone, electornics, friends. That is most effective!
Good Luck!

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