Punishment What to Do???

Updated on January 13, 2011
B.B. asks from Irving, TX
18 answers

Hi Moms, I need some advice on what to do with my 11 year old. She is in gifted and talented and she all the sudden has gotten lazy. She wants to get out of gifted and talented. She doens't want to put forth the effort to learn her math. She hates math so therfore she doesn't try. I know she knows how to do it because she scored commendable on her Taks test for math. Her father and I have had many talks with her about how important it is to do your best. I have given her math drill worksheets and she will take her time doing them. It seems to me that she just doesn't care and half azz does her work. She wants the easy way out of everything she has to do and is very selfish. I have sat at the table with her many evenings and I would do a math worksheet too, and she would then complete hers faster then she normally would. Her teacher is calling and sending long emails about how she isn't completeing her work, not using her time wisely, and not listening to the teacher. "She think she grown." I need to whip her into shape... Advice?????

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Anchorage on

If I did not keep my grades up to pare I lost privileges like friends, phone, computer, games, ect...

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

I am reading "Parenting Teens with love and logic" and recommend it. I haven't finished the book, though. My 11 yo is also in this phase. Fortunately my 13 yo seems to be moving beyond it.

The basic premise is that being a helicopter parent or a drill sergeant both tell the child that they can't really do it on their own and they tend to rebel at around this age. The model they use is that of the "consultant parent". The fact is that it is her choice - you can't really "make" her do her work.

At my daughter's middle school, they are big on personal responsibility for students. You learn most when you fail. If the student forgets their lunch, the parent can't bring it to them. Guess what? They are less likely to forget next time. And the truth is that you would probably rather have her learn the lesson now (before high school), that if she doesn't get organized and get her work done, the grades will reflect that. Now you can set expectations, such as we expect you to do your work and get "good" grades (depending on how you define it). And you can tie privileges into meeting expectations, but the time is coming when it has to come from her. You can guide her, but you can't make her. I would also involve your teacher in this discussion.
For instance, you ask leading questions about how she thinks she can get it done. "What do you think you can do ....?"
And when she fails, you say, "Well, that's a bummer". I guess you will have to stay home to work on your stuff while the rest of us ______."
Not easy and I may not be explaining well. I am no expert but I am working on this. It seems to be helping. I am showing them I love them and being empathetic, but letting the natural consequences happen and imposing logical consequences when necessary.

For instance, tonight I told my son that I will be glad to take him to wrestling when the bathroom is clean and his homework is done. Bathroom is done (although I think he has gotten distracted on homework). If he doesn't go, oh, well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

She sounds burnt out.
She is not doing it for herself... but maybe all this time, was doing it because she once enjoyed it or she had to or she did it for you/Dad.

Many kids this age, burn out.... I just talked to a Middle school Principal... who said that she sees this a lot. (in the "smart" kids) OR the kids start to exhibit other 'stress' related behaviors... some even self-hurting themselves. Usually, seen in kids who were/are pushed too hard... and their inner selves or happiness or talents... are not addressed or allowed to also be nurtured. Their interests/lives not being in balance or their is no 'joy' there any longer... and their once good school work, becomes a drudgery and hated. The.... impetus.... is no longer there. They are not a robot.

It is a sort of emotion based.... rebuke of their 'academics' and not being able to keep running the 'rat race' and keeping up the scores.... as is expected of them. Or for their parents.

Does your daughter, have any other talents/interests, that she is allowed to pursue as well? Just for fun.
Or, does she get to do anything expressive?
ALSO be sure to nurture... her communication/expression with you of her feelings... she is a Tween now... and if not, once she gets to be a Teen or older... she may cease, expressing her feelings/problems/ideas to her parents. Balance the both... of expectations with age related appropriateness and her own, needs for just being a kid.

The Principal I talked with, was just the other day. She was just venting to me about how she sees kids like this... so pressured and they even come to her to vent...about 'hating' their AP classes or 'having to' keep up with everything... and being seen only as a score... and having to score so well all the time.... and the parents just thinking that because their kid is so smart... that the other facets of their lives... are not fed. Their internal needs.

all the best,

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It sounds to me like she's been pushed too hard and is burned out. Can she drop G&T for the rest of this year? If she's G&T, can she re-enter next year?

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Success is measured at least two ways
1) being VERY good at something
2)LOVING what you're very good at

Sounds like she doesn't love it.
You will not be dumbing her down to put her in the regular math class and expect outstanding grades.

I've got three very different kids. The oldest excelled in Math/Science/Technology, held 95 or high in AP classes all through school. Was OK at english and social related subjects, got high 90s in the regular regents classes. I would never force him to take AP English, he hates it, what's the point?
Next boy is in AP english and Social, no AP math or science for him.

My point is, she just may BE doing her best in the areas you WANT her to excel in. Likely she's got DIFFERENT ideas than you where those areas are.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you considered, she's slumping under pressure? I was always good at English and soccer. I was pushed into competitive soccer and "gifted" programs. I didn't care for the programs. In fact, I hated them. I acted out in the same manner as your daughter, hoping I would get kicked out of the programs. Eventually, I quit soccer all together. It was a decision my parents called "lazy." Understand, I HATED playing soccer. I dreaded every day of playing that dang sport. They understand now, I was simply making a choice to not take part in something, that I didn't enjoy and caused me great amounts of stress.

My parents put a lot of pressure on me, to "do my best." And I did, but what I loved and wanted to do (painting and writing short stories.), didn't match up with the programs THEY thought were the best. I am all for parents instilling hard work ethics in their children. From what I read, though...I wonder if her goals match up with YOUR goals, for her. Have you ever asked her if she even likes these programs? What she really wants to be doing? What would make her happy? What her real talent is? How much pressure are you putting on her, to be in these programs? I suggest having a real discussion with her, about whether she wants to be doing what she is doing. She might not want to be in the gifted program and there is nothing lazy about making a choice like that. I pulled out of the gifted program and I have always done well in life.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i think punishment is exactly the wrong thing to do. scoring 'commendable' does not mean she has the desire or aptitude to continue. you cannot force a child to be an enthusiastic learner.
you're at a delicate point. you can stay on her, keep her nose to the grindstone and hope that she works through this, or you can trust her (at least to a degree) and let her drop TAG and figure out what actually motivates her.
you and your husband are up in her grill, she's spending not only her schooldays but her evenings staring at math worksheets, her teacher is hounding her, and her mom is referring to her as lazy and selfish. i'd be kinda unmotivated too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I have trouble understanding how a child that "hates math" is in the G&T math program. Ours is set up by subject. My daughter is in the accelerated math program, she loves math and it comes easily for her. She is in the regular room for the rest of the day. Is your daughter in G&T for all subjects? If so, you don't mention problems in any other subject.

Have you talked with her about what is going on here? Really listened? Is she tired of the pressure from home, or is she getting peer pressure to fit in? Is there a personality conflict between her and this teacher? This isn't really about math, it's about being 11 and what's going on in her life and in her head.

We can't force a kid to learn, or to care about learning, but we can work with them to resolve issues and to understand what will inspire them to do well.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Let me ask a couple of questions. (And I apologize in advance for being so long). What does being the gifted program entail for your daughter? (My daughter is in gifted/talented also, but she is only in 4th grade this year. They have a one day a week pull-out program where she is absent from her "regular" class ALL day one day per week. When I was in gifted back eons ago, in middle school, it was not a pull-out program. It was one SUBJECT assigned as gifted. At our school, it was social studies. When other students went to teacher XYZ or teacher ABC for social studies, we went to the "gifted" social studies teacher for just that one period of the day. We did all kinds of things that weren't quite social studies, lol, but it was no different than having French as an elective instead of Spanish... some kids had one teacher, some had another, and all the REST of your classes were just like everyone else's).
So... could she be missing her friends by not being in class with them for an entire day each week? Or is it just one class, but every day?

Also, does she have any other issues with being in Gifted? Does she have friends in the class? Does she feel like a misfit or get teased about being "smart" when she goes back into her 'regular' classes? Does the teacher expect more from her than she is accustomed to from previous years? (My jr. high gifted teacher wanted us to be little college kids and told us that up front. My high school one was MUCH more laid back and wasn't concerned about upholding some image of herself as teaching super smart kids or whatever... at least that is my and some of the other students' impressions of it). So the teacher's personality can affect things too.

Which teacher is sending the long emails and making the phone calls?, her 'regular' teachers or her Gifted/Talented teacher? Have you asked the teacher what her recommendations are? If she has seen this before with her other students and what was done and if it worked? Do you get the same feedback from ALL her teachers (both regular and G/T)?

Also, the first year of middle school is a HUGE HUGE adjustment.

I have a 12 yr old who was a 6th grader last year. He isn't in the G/T program (although I suspect he probably could have been, we never had him tested and he was in private school prior to 6th grade). But he had MAJOR issues last year with not turning work in on time, not using time wisely, not working to his potential.. blah blah blah. He has NEVER been a discipline problem and ALL his teachers adore him, but he doesn't always do well due to not seeming to be motivated. Punishments and withholding/restricting things just made him sour and miserable (and me too). This year he has been quite a bit better, with ups and downs. Recently we began considering Virtual Online school for him and discussed it with him. His big problem with doing it was missing seeing his friends at school. That was it. His only issue. So maybe, just maybe, your daughter is feeling a little overwhelmed with all the 6th grade middle school stuff (myriad of new teachers, different students in her various classes, having a locker out in the hall, a mishmash of students from several schools all dumped together in a pot and stirred, and probably double the number of kids she is accustomed to having swarm around her in the hallways. Not to mention, now she is the youngest kid at school again... instead of 5th grade and being oldest.
Add to all the middle school upheaval and drama, that she is missing being in class with some of her "known her forever" friends, and she is probably in a funk.

What does she LIKE about school? In general. My son, again, never seemed motivated at all... but his favorite class the past 2 years has been Language Arts. I would never have guessed it... (he has always struggled with neatness, handwriting, punctuation, etc). Now that they focus more on reading and analyzing stories and the different types and styles of writing (rather than the mechanics so much) he loves it. He is in AP Language Arts this year and it's probably his favorite class. He doesn't like math, though he tested really well on it when they did the Woodcock Johnson prior to registering him as a 6th grader coming from private school. And he does pretty well for a kid who doesn't turn stuff in sometimes. But if I tried to put him in a gifted class focused on math he would BALK. BIGTIME.

So... without having too many details about how your daughter's gifted program operates, it is difficult to offer any concrete suggestions. Just don't punish her so that she completely hates school. Offer her incentives instead. Ask her to try 'this' or 'that' for 'this 9 weeks' and see what happens.

And remember, her hormones are probably RAGING too.

Peg, that article you linked to is fantastic. For anyone with "gifted" children, this is exactly what the parents need to be told. I did my reading (both for my child and b/c I was considered "gifted" as well, and nowhere before have I read how to IMPLEMENT something to help gifted kids deal with being faced with something they can't do/learn innately/easily. That is one of their biggest hurdles... everything is easy until one day it isn't. Then what?! Thank you. Thank you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

She could be retreating from expectations that feel too high for her to meet. She's probably scared that she'll disappoint you, because at this state it sounds like she's doing it for you, and not for herself. So she's backing away.

I wouldn't call this selfish or lazy. Defensive, yes. I was just like your daughter during my school years. What connected for me was individual teachers letting me know they cared and appreciated the efforts I did put forth. But I kept my mom out of the loop as much as possible, because no matter how well I did, she wanted more. Or no matter how much trouble I had on a couple of subjects, she always insisted I knew the material and should be performing better.

Here's an excellent article that may give you a bit of perspective on how kids are motivated: How NOT to Talk to Kids, by Po Bronson: http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Victoria on

I would sit her down and tell her that you listened to her and that after thinking it all over, that you think she has made a very good decision. If she is not able to givee 100% to the gifted & talented program, then she should give her position up so that someone else who really does want it can have it and all the opportunities that come with it. Tell her that you spoke with the school and they have a kid who is excited about being able to be in the program and let her know that once she does give it up, you do not know if it is something she can get back if she realizes later she made the wrong decision. I'd tell my daughter that once she is back in regular classes, that my expectation is that she should continue to make high marks since school is her "job." If she doesn't do her job, then she will not be getting her "check" which is anything not necessary to her health. ie food, clothing, shelter, love. She looses tv, phone, toys, computers, games, playtime, going with friends, etc.... all of it, until her job is taken care of. Then follow thru. Sometimes we just can't see the forest for all the trees! She learns to live with her decisions, right or wrong, while it isn't too too serious and you save yourself a lot of stress, but more importantly, I think the slight advantage of the gifted program would be negated by the damage done to your relationship.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I agree that she sounds like she's being pushed hard and is burnt out. If ya hate math ya hate math... If I hate english I sure as heck am not going to enroll in honors english... to me, if my daughter hated math I would expect her to learn the math required to graduate but I wouldn't expect her to be in honors math (that's like torture for her lol). Think of it like you wouldn't expect her to major in math in college if she hates math right (I know I'm like beating a dead horse now lol).. I'd let her take a year off too or let her decide what she wants to do. The deal would be that she has to get good grades (to me, one or two Bs and mostly As) to not be punished while outside of the gifted classes. so no punishment for wanting to be out of the program but there is a punishment (like losing tv or whatever she likes to do) if she doesn't have good grades in normal classes.
Good luck

I also agree with amanda, IF she started the gifted classes not so long ago and just doesn't want to transition.

That's true Sue, is it set up by subject? My old school, like in 1998, didn't do it by subjects so I guess I assumed :P

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Pre-teens and teens get "lazy" because they do not understand why it is important to succeed yet. The pressure of college and HS is not there yet for your daughter and she feels like everyone wants her to grow up when she just wants to be a kid.
That is where the parents need to step in and tell the children what to do. Because we know what's ahead, we know there is no moment to loose and we know that they are not old or mature enough to make their own decisions.
Since you already know that and asking for a strategy I will tell you that there is no magic method that will turn your pre-teen into a well behaved reasonable person overnight. That is why growing up takes so many years because the kid like a butterfly has to go through a lot of ugly stages to become beautiful.
I have a 13 y/o and noticed the same issues you describing when he was about 10-11. The kid figures out it is hard to do well in school and keep up with everything else and she want to give up. Do not let your child to just give up. I do not recomend any punishments but I would advise more talks, more studying, more sports, more worksheets. When the child understands you are not giving up on making them work they will give up on resisting or al least they will resist much less. If she doesn't like you teaching her consider hiring someone else to study with her for a couple of hours. I tutor my own son and he is a whiz in math and science and one parent from his school learned about the story behind his success and asked me to tutor her daughter who is in a 9th grade and her son who is a 5th grader. So I do that on Sat one hour each and they started understanding and loving science and math and the school is not so scary anymore. May be you can find a tutor or a high schooler who will meet with your daughter and show her how interesting math can be.
When a child has a taste of success they will like it and it does become the motivator.
I admit that there are some ugly moments with teens but when my son tells me I am too hard on him I tell him that when he is rich and successful he can hire a therapist to help him deal with all the emotional grieve his mother caused him. That got him laughing...
The main idea, I guess, is that you have to understand that the process of growing up takes time and when you know that you will not expect an overnight change in your daughter's behaviour. This mind set will help you to be consistent, steady, not discouraged and not ruffled by her resistance.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I have a similar problem with my 9 yr old girl. We tried the punishment route- she would be grounded from having friends over, or she would have to do the dishes when it wasnt' her night- nothing worked. We finally realized that she needed something she could feel proud of. We put her in girl scouts and although it took a while, she is doing better now. They are selling cookies now and she has already reached her goal! I told her how proud I was of her and my husband and I have been really supportive with all her stuff she needs to do for girl scouts. But she knows that if she doesnt' keep her grades up, she won't be allowed to continue(so that helped with getting her to do her work).
Find something your daughter is interested in and start working with her on it- something that is just her and that she can feel proud of when she is done. It will take a while, but once she really gets that sense of accomplishment- It will help her a lot and hopefully she will put everything else back into perspective for her.
Good luck! I know how frustrating it is when you child stops trying!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Well,it's either because the stuff is too hard and she really does need a break or
(what i think) is that she has been getting by easy for so long because she is smart and "normal" work is easy for her that the first time she has to really apply herself and work hard she is getting all lazy about it. We went thru the same thing this year with my 3rd grade son in AT classes. He finally really got challenged, and was like "what! I actually have to work hard and can't just get this done in 2 minutes!"
Here is my attitude on the situation (IF you think she really can do it). "you do it or I will start taking things out of your room and if you keep making bad choices and at the end of it, all you have left in your room is the carpet on the floor, then so be it. You WILL try your hardest and you WILL do your work or else you WON'T have anything else. This IS important because I'm telling you that it is. END OF DISCUSSION!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Could you give her a positive goal to work towards? Does she have something that you could take away and have her earn back by doing the work? Or does she get motivated by doing something fun with her friends etc. You could say if you work hard and I hear nothing but positive comments from your teacher for the next month, I will treat you and one friend to the movies. Or something like that. Maybe she needs a little goal to work towards.
Good luck,


answers from Modesto on

It's probably peer pressure that brought this on. Friends telling her she shouldnt be in the "hard" classes.
If you can't make her realize the challenge is good for her you probably need to let her go back to regular classes NEXT year..... just so she doesnt rebel agains school alltogether maybe.
If you decide to stand firm, knowing her abilities, you might need to remove some of her privileges until she "gets" that you are not going to waiver on lowering your standard.



answers from Phoenix on

Does she play any sports? Have a cell phone? Get computer time? Remember that these things are not essentials and are rewards! Only people who work hard and get things accomplished deserve rewards. I know that growing up, when my grades started to drop, just the threat of being taken off my sports teams was enough to whip me back into shape. With my sister, the threat of losing her cell phone worked wonders. Use what you have momma!! Take away TV privileges, outings with friends, spending money, new clothes, whatever you have too! She needs to understand that what we do as young adults can affect our lives down the road. Good grades now and in high school lead to scholarships for college! Tough love hurts but I think it's gotta be worth it when you know you're doing whats best! Good Luck!!!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions