I'm Desperately Seeking Advice About My Almost 9 Year Old and His Behavior.

Updated on May 07, 2015
K.S. asks from Sacramento, CA
18 answers

My son is lying about his homework. "I don't have any." I thought this to be true as he hasn't lied to me in the past and I had no reason not to believe him. This year is a completely different story. He is lying so much because he doesn't like to do it. That doesn't sit well with me. It makes me angry that the teacher waited until the last 8 weeks of school to tell me he hasn't been turning most of it in. She did tell me about his journal at the beginning of the year and that was fixed but his math work was never mentioned and I knew nothing about it. Once I learned about it it was fixed. Last night, I was looking through random stuff and found a pile of papers. I asked him what they were and his face said everything. It was more homework. (He has a ton of homework. approx. 2 hours per night.) I'm frustrated and at a complete loss. I told him before that if it continued then I would take away all the screen time/tablets. We have tried talking, problem solving together, etc but nothing is working. So for the last 4 weeks of school (Makes me feel like I'm wasting my time for just the last four weeks of school) no screen time like I said I would do. Now I have a friend of mine telling me I'm being too harsh. Am I? I really don't know what to do.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for some great responses! He came home today with a letter from the teacher. There will be no more homework after the 21. He will be continuing into the fourth grade and the work load should go down a lot, my daughter is in fourth and she has very little homework which I'm sure fuels his little fire. We also had a talk about his punishment. He said he's okay with it because he knew it was coming. He also said he didn't think I would actually do it! I'm so glad I followed through. We sat down together and did his homework today. His school has no planner system (but I'm sure we could do one) or computer system to check on the homework so really it's just their word. His grades never hinted to a problem and the teacher turned down all parent-teacher conferences because he said he didn't need one. I don't feel that I failed him in anyway. I would feel I failed him if I gave up. ;-) You all had some really great suggestions though. Thanks a ton!

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answers from St. Louis on

Break the homework up into chunks. When my kids were younger they did 30 minutes when they got home, relaxed until dinner. Then another chunk, relax...lather rinse repeat



answers from Beaumont on

I don't think it's too harsh at all. It's troubling behavior. The lying is what would trouble me the most. What else is going on? Does he do his chores, have close friends, have hobbies he enjoys?? Seems like there's more going on than what you're seeing.

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answers from Baton Rouge on

I didn't ask about my daughter's homework and I didn't nag her to do it. It was HER responsibility and she knew that if she needed help with it, all she had to do was ask, but I had enough on my plate without dealing with HER homework.
If she didn't do it, or didn't turn it in, she got a 0. If she got too many 0's and failed a class or a grade, she would have to repeat it or go to summer school.
Natural consequences.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

What grade is he in? My son will be 9 in July, and he's in 2nd grade. (started kindergarten when he was 6) He has never had 2 hours of homework, and based on conversations I've had with other parents at our school, he won't be facing 2 hours of homework fro a very long time! That is insane.

Lying is not ok, so please don't thinik that that is whay I am saying. But please do understand that he has been dealing with a teacher that is giving about 4 times as much homework as is age appropriate! That is terrifying to a kid his age. That happened to me when I was 12, and I did what he did. I pretended it wasn't there. My parents didn't find out for a few months. When they did find out, they worked out a schedule with me so that I could get caught up. What they didn't tell me was that they read my teacher the riot act. and told her that not only was she giving so much homework that she scared me into "hiding" it, that not informing them sooner was completely unprofessional.

If I were you I would meet with the teacher. Find out what your son needs to do this year to make sure he's ready for the next grade. Then, make that happen. When you find out who his teacher is for next year, make an appointment with that person. explain what happened this year, and try to get a good idea of shat will be happening hext year. Then, make a REASONABLE plan and let your son know what the plan is.

I would back down a bit on your punishment. Yes he led, and you do need to talk to him about that, make it absolutely clear that lying is not ok and have a consequence. But you failed him, too. You didn't stay informed of everything that was going on. You made the mistake of thinking that, "Do you have any homework?" was sufficient. It's not. You need to have an ongoing dialogue with him about what he's doing each day in each subject.

Start working right now on a plan for next fall. That's how you help your son.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

So your son is in 3rd grade?

If my 3rd grader had two hours of homework a night, I would put him in a different school, where they didn't believe in drowning a child in busywork.

The teacher really should be able to teach him everything he needs to know in the 7 hours he's already at school, not send it all home.

Too much homework at that age is harmful.


p.s. - My kids barely had any homework through 8th grade (charter school), and they are excelling in their college education.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

He needs a planner with the homework written down that his teacher initials each day. Our 12-year-old would lie about his homework, going so far as to write "no homework" in his planner when he had some. As part of our son's 504 plan for his various conditions we added in that his teachers initial each day that what he's written is correct.

If he doesn't get it initialed or doesn't do his homework, no video games that day. It's been very motivational for him!

You're not harsh. There are consequences for bad behavior.

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answers from Kansas City on

OK, He's nine, what grade is he in? I'm thinking backward and I'm guessing it's about 4th Grade. 2 hours of homework each night for a 4th grader is waaaaayyyyyyy too much. Now is it 2 hours of him sitting not knowing where to start or how to do the assignments, or is it truly 2 full hours of non-stop work?

My 7th grader will freak out when he has a lot of homework and start whining and complaining. I tell him to take the assignments one at a time, don't think of the whole, just do one then move on to the next. He is usually surprised by how quickly he can get through a big pile of homework. Now my older son will sit and stare at a math problem forever, rather than asking for help or searching his book for possible help he'll just waste time.

Do your best for the rest of this school year and jump in with both feet next fall to stay on top of things. Send a weekly e-mail to his teacher to make sure assignments are handed in, etc.


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answers from Washington DC on

If he has "two hours of homework a night" at age nine, it's likelier that he is taking two hours to get his work done, than it is that he's actually being given work that would take every kid two hours. In other words -- it would be very odd for teachers to be handing out work to nine-year-olds with the teachers expecting this work to consume two hours; most teachers will say at this level they give no more than maybe 30 minutes a night, perhaps an hour if there is a project due etc. But if he says he has "two hours a night" two hours is the amount of time it takes HIM. And that probably indicates that he may be having some combination of procrastinating; not focusing during homework time; doing homework with distractions like a bad location, noise, screens or a sibling around; and not understanding what to do with the homework. If he has gotten away for a long while with not doing the earlier work, he missed the foundation for what he's supposed to know to do the current work.

A question: Why didn't his grades tell you that he wasn't doing homework, even if the teacher didn't mention it until recently? Homework here is part of the class grade and if he wasn't doing it at all -- that should have resulted in his getting a worse class grade overall at the end of the quarter. Red flag! Was there no indication in his grades that something, somewhere was wrong? Or is he acing tests and doing so well on in-class work to the point that homework didn't show up as much? I find the latter idea hard to believe -- not because he's not smart, but because in our schools, getting the homework done is a really important part of the overall grade.

You are right to be, let's say, irked that the teacher did not alert you sooner if there was this level of shirking going on for much of the year. But that ship has sailed, so let it go; tell her now that you need her to back you up and go ahead and do what another person posted -- a planner notebook with every assignment written down every day, the due dates, etc. When he hits middle school (not that far away) he will be required to have such a planner (here, the schools give them to the kids, and losing a planner is a big deal as it's also their hall pass, their permission form, everything).

Act as if these last four weeks are as vital as the rest of the year. Show him how seriously you take both the lying and the shirking of homework. You are NOT being too harsh; do not back down on taking away the screens, mom! No screens; a planner; you check every night including Fridays and Sundays to see what is due. He has a project due next Tuesday and today is Wednesday? You ask him, "What do you plan to do each day on the project; what tools or supplies do you need; write out your schedule for the project and give me a list of supplies." He has to learn he can't do the project next Monday night or give you a list next Monday afternoon.

Please don't feel you're wasting your time for the last four weeks. Yes, it's deeply frustrating for you but think of it as a huge, valuable heads-up: Next year, he will have a planner that you give him and make it a big deal if he loses it. Check every day what he has and at the start of each week, sit down and have him map out what he's doing when.

If he needs help in a subject and has not been doing homework, for instance, because he has trouble with math and gets frustrated, then he needs some math tutoring over the summer for sure. He doesn't do English homework because it's boring or he dislikes writing? Talk to the English teacher now about ways to supplement English over the summer and ways to get him to write that are fun for him. And so on. You don't want him feeling he needs to "do school" at home all summer but he may truly need some supplementing so he doesn't feel behind when school starts, and you do want to find ways to make learning interesting to him.

The lying needs to be dealt with as a disciplinary issue, and taking away the screens 100 percent of the time for four weeks is a good wake-up call for him. Tell him he lost your trust by not telling the truth and has to earn your trust back again with being absolutely true and open about all homework , tests, etc. in this last month. He needs to learn that you are there to help him -- that does not mean do anything for him, but you can help him schedule, set priorities, and break things up into chunks that he can manage better day by day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

2 hours of homework per day is completely ignorant. Tell the teacher that's too much and if she wants him to do that she needs to give him time in class to work on it. She'll stop doing it so much.

He needs to work on it about 30 minutes then be done. Period.

ALL research shows that kids need playtime. They spend 8 hours at school, same as your job, then when they come home they are bombarded with hours more work. They don't get overtime pay and they shouldn't have hours of homework either.

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answers from Washington DC on

he sounds overwhelmed. 2 hours of homework per night is WAY too much.
lying is never okay with me. i'd have some pretty severe consequences too. but context is important. it sounds as if this young fellow isn't lying to be a liar, he's lying because he's not able to handle what's on his plate and is unsure and afraid about what to do.
so consequences, yes, but also help and some understanding.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

My son is 11 and he has always hated homework. At age 9/10 in 4th grade he had a teacher who gave a lot of homework...too much. This year in 5th grade it's a bit better but it still is a lot. If we are not looking over his shoulder he will "forget" to do it or put it off. It's almost too late for you to do it this year but you should start next year....Monday when he gets home he shows me what he homework he has gotten. He has to write it down on a daily planner. His teacher gives almost all homework on Monday and it is due Friday. So, we write it down on a blank weekly calendar...we break it down. If he has 30 minutes of computer time math I write down 10m a day for 3 days. He has to do one math worksheet each day. He has to do his vocabulary flashcards or a worksheet or exercise each day. Once he sees it broken down for the week he has an easier time understanding what he has to do each night. We talked to the teacher about this and how overwhelming it is for him and she actually started making him the weekly calendar with what he needs to do written down for each day. If we don't check him in the evening he will conveniently "forget" to do things bc he would rather play. He just hates doing it. But I have him sit next to me. I will be doing something else or perhaps I will chat with him. But if he sits next to me on the couch he is much better about staying on task. It's a royal pain. Yes, I have to take away screen time/tablets every day until it is done. Or if I feel he is working hard and completed something...I will give him a 20m break and let him do screen time. Then he has to get back to doing homework. Really, it works out best to not have any screen time or as little as possible during the week. This is not being mean...it is being realistic. They have very little self control with something as tempting as that.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I see you resolved this already but just wanted to add. Based on what you're saying this teacher sounds terrible! That much HW for a 3rd grader, not telling you he wasn't doing it, and declining a parent conference- that's ridiculous!
My guess is s/he assigns all this busy work because some kids need it and some parents expect it, but if he's grades are good then apparently he doesn't need that extra practice.
My son has like 20 mins of HW a night (2nd grade) and even that is tough for us (he does have a sport practice or game almost every day). I asked the teacher if we can turn it in on Mondays instead of Fridays and she was fine with that. It was much easier to have him sit for an hour over the weekend, take a break, sit for another hour, and get it all done rather than battle after a long day at school. Maybe you can try that if you have the same problem next year.
But the lying about it is a problem. And it's a bummer that it has really worked out well for him all year- by lying he has succeeded in getting out of lots of work. I would stress that he has to be honest and responsible , but that you are there for him to help make a reasonable working plan.

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answers from Los Angeles on

i don't think you are being too harsh. he must reap what he sowed. if he fails a grade he will hopefully lear his lesson and not do that again. i would keep on him to help him get the work done. but i also think that 2 hours a night is to much.
the teacher should of brought this matter to your attention the first week of it happening, shame on her for not doing something sooner.its her responsibility to teach. if a child is lagging behind then its on her to talk to the parents to get the child the help needed to learn.

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answers from Portland on

You aren't being harsh. He hid the homework from you, lied about it, and now he has to get caught up.

Why does he have two hours of homework a night in 3rd grade? It should be about 30 minutes of work unless the child has a learning disability or is truly struggling in the work and needs tutoring on a subject.

I would talk directly with the teacher regarding classroom output (is your son getting classwork done in class, or is that part of what he's taking home along with homework assignments).

Our son has a learning disability and thus, homework *does* take longer for him. We are working on not just his academics but developing good homework and learning behaviors. It isn't easy. We are using goals to help motivate him--- so that he keeps having simple privileges to strive for and earn. One thing that helps is that his afternoon routine includes homework and part of that is his handing it to me and showing it to me. If he doesn't then I follow up. (He is 8, he's not going to remember. It's my job as the parent to understand that this isn't a priority for him in comparison to play.) It's his responsibility to do the homework; my responsibility is to ensure that he has the time and space to get it done.

You might also ask the teacher to keep up a communication notebook between she and home if you can't speak to her directly during pick-up. My son and his teacher do the communication directly and the teacher knows that I am monitoring the back-and-forth between them. I follow up with the teacher regularly. Since my son does struggle in some areas, I do the asking. Teachers can be reticent to approach parents about some thiings; oftentimes, too, the teacher has a few kids who they are spending a lot of their parent communication time on and the kids with the smaller, less disruptive bad habits tend to slip by.

Ask your son if there's any difficulty with the work, and go from there. I personally think that your punishment will not go unnoticed, and I also think that maybe, if he gets his back work made up and keeps out of any further trouble, it wouldn't hurt to offer an opportunity to earn back media time a few days (and only weekends/non-school days) early. Sometimes a goal is better at motivating than just a punishment.

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answers from Portland on

We've been there ... not quite to the same extent but an assignment hasn't been turned in, etc.

I am guessing he is having a hard time with math, etc.

Take a breath and figure out why he's so reluctant to do it. Is it hard for him?

Now that my kids are teens I am finally getting the whole avoidance thing. If there's a problem, there is usually a reason for it.

I would just sit with him for the remainder of the year and make sure he's doing the homework - it's probably built up into stress for him. Just do a week of sitting with him getting it done. Get a routine. Make it stress free. Have a snack or whatever. Then just monitor it.

As for the lying, it's usually to cover up something they think they will get in trouble for. Now that it's out in the open, it shouldn't happen any more.

I would just move on and focus on establishing a good routine. He'll need it for next year.

I'm surprised the teacher didn't contact you sooner. I went through something similar recently though - it's frustrating.

I would use screen time as an incentive to get his work done. I do that sometimes - no screen time (free time) until piano is practiced, homework done, chores done, etc. It's amazing how focused they become :)

Good luck :)

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answers from Kansas City on

I don't think that's harsh. our rule is no electronics until homework is done. it's completely reasonable, even what I would consider the "right" thing to do.

I do think as he is only 8, that you will still need to help him organize it and get through it. that sounds like quite a pileup - anyone would be overwhelmed. HE needs to do it - but there's no reason you can't help him.

As far as the lying, I have not had to deal with that and to me that's a whole other issue. But I would make sure he knows (and you can back it up) that you will find out whether he has homework or not. And the consequences will be harsher if he lies about it, vs if he tells you.

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answers from Asheville on

I have an 8 1/2 yo. I go over his completed homework assignments every night. This way, I can get a sense of what they are covering in school, if he's grasping the material, etc. I don't sit and hover, or helicopter him or anything. I just eyeball it quickly, check for completion, and then slip it back in his bag.
So, while I get that you are angry with him over the lying (which does warrant the punishment you gave), you really don't have a right to be angry at the teacher. I think at this age, kids still need a little oversight when it comes to homework and school assignments, and it's our responsibility as parents to make sure that they are following through.



answers from Amarillo on

Well it looks like a combination of occurrences here. 1. Teacher didn't advise you earlier so that you could have helped him. 2. Student should have a planner and write down assignments and check them off as completed. 3. Mom should review daily what is going on in the planner or on the computer so that you know what is up.

My son had a problem with his son about lying and such and getting homework done. So he went online and found out just all that was missing and grandson had to make it up.

I had a cousin who thought partying at a young age was more important than school Dad sent her to summer school which she flunked (I don't know how much her dad paid for it) and she repeated a grade over in junior high.

Make this about your son and what he has to do to prepare for his future. If he flunks he repeats the grade while his friends go on without him. Now that is something for him to think about. It might just happen if he can't get all his work done and turned in before the end of the semester.

The punishment for lying sounds right. But he does not seem to care. So maybe over the summer he will wake up a bit and realize how much he didn't do when he repeats the grade again.

the other S.

PS Then the only person he can blame is himself. Life and a consequence.

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