Suggestions for Helping Me to Best Help My Daughter *SWH ADDED*

Updated on June 10, 2018
S.C. asks from Hull, MA
13 answers

Hello all! I've been a member and lurker at mamapedia for a very long time and, unbeknownst to you all, have enjoyed and implemented many bits of advice from here. I have a question that I'm hoping you can help me with. My 11 year old daughter has been struggling with actually doing her homework and lying about it and assorted school things (i.e. a not great test score, losing an important paper, etc). I very much think that much of this can be solved with organization skills and I'm helping her with this (especially as we prepare for the next school year). The issue is this - she has been disciplined several times this year for not doing homework. She promises to get better but it becomes rapidly apparent it has not. She ordinarily gets good grades - for some reason the homework and organization has totally gone by the wayside. She had had things taken away before but after returning from a long trip where she was given the (small amount of) work beforehand and many opportunities to do it still chose to not complete and/or turn in her work upon return I told her she was not able to participate in her sport, horseback riding. This was devastating to her, very much the last thing I wanted to do. In the short term she was doing great...until today I find out that she turned in something today which was due two weeks ago. Riding is the thing she loves the most and I was sure that would get her attention but she hasn't ridden in a month, she doesn't have a phone or ipod, has missed school events...at this point I worry that I haven't chosen wisely how to deal with the issue.

To be clear we don't yell or anything like that - just a matter of fact explanation of the issue, the solution and the punishment. I'm very much a natural consequences parent but I've never had a child heading towards middle school and I'd like to learn how to be better so that my kids can be productive members of society. TIA for your thoughts and help - both today and the past few years!

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So What Happened?

First, thank you all very much for your help and advice - it is so appreciated. Second, to answer Savannah - I can see that I sent flowers to someone back in May of 2007 so not long after I had my first child! On to the rest - the advice on a tutor, potential ADD, organization skills, changing how we view the behavior - all helps a lot. I will ask for a meeting with her teacher before school ends and ask about the ADD - it is something that my husband has so it may be present. We have used a tutor - several times - and would be happy to do so again - I guess I was wanting the take of other moms on whether your experience with similar issues ended up being more related to academics or behavior (although obviously each child is unique). Marda, the Love and Logic thing is very dear to me and is how we try to parent. Clearly we aren't perfect at it though :) I do like the idea of kind of flipping how we use the technique - instead of "punishment" for not doing something, a "reward" for doing it - i.e. not "You're losing your riding privileges" and more "Riding is something you get to do when you're doing all of your homework on time". The more I thought about it the more it seemed that the older we get, the more beneficial it will be for her to think more about what she can earn by doing her work well and less about what she can lose. She will be in middle school and hasn't done time-outs for many years, but I suppose how we were handling it was a type of time out. Anyways, THANK YOU so much! I think that now that I've written here I may come out of the "woodwork" more. Enjoy your weekend!

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Do you have a homework routine?

One of mine has to do homework right after school or it won't get done. It's been that way since he started school. He has a snack, and gets right to it.

As for organization, he's still not the most organized. He has a binder that has all those sections in it that help keep him on track. As soon as his work is done, in it goes to be handed in.

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G.♣.

answers from Springfield on

ETA - It's great to teach organization, but I think it's also important to recognize that avoiding homework is very common at this age. That's why it's still our job to sit them down in the kitchen and tell them that it's time to do their homework.

Original Answer - My son is 11 and just finished 5th grade. His school has a system for late or incomplete assignments. While it does affect his grade, that's not really the consequence that bothers him. If he misses an assignment or turns one in that's incomplete, he has to complete it and have a parent signature on it. After so many of these (2, I believe) he will have to miss recess and complete an assignment at that time.

Does your daughter's school have a policy for late or incomplete assignments? If so, I would encourage you to just let the school deal with that. That's usually much more effective.

You have complete control over whether or not she does her homework. My son completes some of his homework on his own, before my husband or I get home from work. But when he doesn't, he has to sit at the kitchen table (no phone, tablet, tv, etc) and finish it. We're not mean about it. We just make the environment is conducive to homework time (distraction free), and we make sure that he knows homework is not optional.

If she lies about her homework (you didn't say she did), that's another story. Our son did this once or twice, and the message to him was we don't tolerate lying. There were serious consequences for lying (no phone for a week or no friends over that weekend), but we also reminded him that lying breaks our trust. He is really beginning to understand how important trust is and how many privileges he gets if he is trustworthy (and how much he loses if he is not).

I don't mean to pretend this is easy. I'm getting very nervous about all that is to come in the next few years :-) Not sure what it is going to be like having teenager! But, nevertheless, here we go ...

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

My oldest daughter was the same way. Even through middle school her teachers would have me come in for a conference because she didn’t work to her potential. I used to bring her with me. She was always mortified.

We continued to talk to her about the importance of trying your best etc...it finally sunk in in HS and she was accepted to the honors college of her University. One of her professors nominated her for 2 scholarships this year and she won both. I would describe her as an overachiever today. (Definitely not the same kid😉)

Ultimately, I think our job is to raise healthy, well rounded, self supporting adults. More than likely your daughter will find her way with you just stressing the importance of school and doing her best. I’m not a fan of punishing, especially taking away extracurricular activities which I view as equally important.

Now that my daughter is an adult, I recently asked her about her performance in elementary school and middle school. She said she simply didn’t care about her grades and saw no purpose to doing well. (She was a B student though) Once she got to HS though she knew her performance would effect her ability to get into a good college etc. and she started applying herself.

My advice is to enjoy your daughter and don’t make this a battle of wills. As long as she is not failing, let it go and give her memories of a happy mom who had confidence in her abilities and knew that with maturity she would get herself together. (My youngest daughter is a perfectionist and places too much stress on herself to achieve all A’s in honors classes...this is not ideal either...I constantly remind her there is more in life than good grades. I also frequently ask her if whatever she is upset about is going to matter in a day, week, month or year.)

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

You are going to have to go thru her things right as she walks in the door, check her planner, and make her do her work. She is only 11. She is still little!
In the morning, remind her to turn in her papers as she heads out the door.
I checked backpacks and planners well into middle school.

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J.K.

answers from Wausau on

Normally, 11-12 is about the time you'd back off a bit, but your daughter isn't yet at that place. She's behind and needs to be caught up before you can let go.

Routine - homework has to be done first thing when getting home from school. Nothing else before it other than maybe a quick snack. This goes for Fridays too.

Additionally, homework is to be done in a location without amusing distractions. Kids bedrooms are usually not the place for this. A kitchen or dining room table is better.

Supervision - every day you check her planner (or make her start keeping one if she doesn't) and you check to make sure her homework is completed. Don't take her word for anything, she hasn't earned that.

Collaboration - talk to her teacher(s) and assure them you'll be doing this, because even if done you won't be there at school to make her turn it in.

Organization - She should have an organized system for schoolwork, such as a binder with color-coded folders for each class. It's not possible to lose papers this way, unless you do it on purpose.

(A few have mentioned the possibility of ADD, which would be good to know if it is a factor. One of my sons has inattentive (girl) type ADD. It means you have to work harder, more consistently, and longer than you might with others.)

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Middle school is a big adjustment, and some of that is tough while another side of it is positive. If she doesn't have a team of teachers now, she definitely will in middle school.

I think this is a good time to back off a bit and put her in charge of much more communication with her teachers. Let them be responsible for the consequences (and expectations), while you step back. If she doesn't turn in the homework, what is their policy/procedure? Sometimes it's much more effective for a child to have to explain to the teacher why she didn't think the assignment was important enough write down, to do, to keep track of, to turn in. Maybe staying after school to do the work instead of going home with friends or off to Activity A or Activity B would wake her up.

I'm all for the school setting up a procedure for finding assignments - whether they are written in the corner of the white board or whether they are on line. But the student can be in charge of this. I'm all for a homework folder in the front of the notebook or in the backpack, but I think that those tools only go so far.

This is all presuming that your child doesn't have some diagnosed issue that needs addressing, either with different tools/patterns, different explanations, some sort of coaching/counseling/tutoring, or perhaps meds. But you say she's been able to manage this and is just falling off the responsibility train now.

I do think at-home consequences have a role, but they are often so many hours or days after the "offense" that the kid doesn't make the connection. Better to have it happen in school.

Also, while it may not be at play now, please be aware that, even at ages 9-10-11, kids are being offered drugs. Other kids are trading/selling their meds or their parents' meds, and none of them know what they are doing. So with any sudden and dramatic change in behavior, it's wise to consider this possibility. It's easy to say, "Oh, not MY child" and I truly hope that's not the case, but going forward through age 22, you need to have it on your list of things you'll check for.

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A.S.

answers from unknown city on

I am responding to the moms that mentioned the possibility of ADHD and possibly drugs. 20+yrs ago I tanked in the last quarter of my sophomore year in high school and they wanted me to repeat. I had a hyperactive thyroid that caused everything. (Yes a little gland can dictate your life)

So make sure you do a full CBC before counseling and tutoring, just to ensure nothing ‘medical’ is causing this disruption.

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N.Z.

answers from Los Angeles on

If she ordinarily gets good grades, but has difficulty with homework and organization, I'm wondering if she has undiagnosed ADD (ADHD without the "H", which stands for hyperactivity). Symptoms of ADD in girls is very different than in boys. I think it's something worth looking into.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

it was about this age that my parents decided i needed to get better about making my bed. i had never been expected to do it before and i honestly forgot. i've never been a morning person, and in the rush to get out the door i'd forget.

they gave me the exact same punishment (and it was a punishment, not a natural consequence.) no riding lesson if i missed even one morning. riding was my life. i missed it for a solid month, because i'd get it most mornings but never quite managed a full week.

i'm STILL resentful over that. if that effing bed was such a huge deal, couldn't they just have reminded me at some point during the morning? i get responsibility, but i was 11. i was a straight A student, but forgetful about this one thing, and this thing was where they decided to draw a line in the sand.

i see two issues here. one is not doing her homework and losing her papers. this is something you can help her with, not take control of it but simply give her a hand. sit with her for half an hour in the evening. work with her to devise an organizational system. check with her to make sure papers have been turned in. she needs to own it, but you can help with it. i wouldn't tie this part of it to the riding. i'm sure school has consequences for her when she fails to do her work, and you should always back them up.

the lying is another matter. yes, they're related, and you helping her stay on top of her work will help her stay away from circumstances which set her up to lie. but ultimately the lie is a conscious choice, and there needs to be zero tolerance for that. i WOULD pull riding lessons for lying.

but check yourself too. are you modeling honesty? does she see you telling a friend 'oh sorry we can't make it, we have a doctor appointment' when you just want to get out of something. do you tell your kids Little White Lies to motivate them, for example 'i see the bus coming! hurry up and put your shoes on!' when it's really not? can she count on you to be honest with her even when it's uncomfortable for you?

i'm glad that you're looking at all the things she's doing without and conducting a recheck on your parenting philosophy. you're absolutely right that just yanking everything isn't helpful and will actually foster resentment and pushback. but there DO have to be consequences for carelessness and dishonesty.

but set her up for success.

lastly i'd suggest that you consult with HER on what the consequences should be for the various infractions. ask her what she thinks is appropriate. let her have a say. the answers may surprise you.
khairete
S.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

I'm glad to hear you try to use natural consequence. Have you read Parenting With Love and Logic?

I had a difficulttime learning how to word my expectations and discipline in a positive way. Sounds like you may have said something like "you can't ride your horses for 1 month. Love and Logic suggest parents use rewards instead of punishment. So the reward for getting her homework done is to ride her ponies. It's a subtle difference in how one words it.

Taking things away that are not a part of the problem creates anger instead of space to think which is part of teaching her how to do what you want her to learn. I use after you do this you can do this a lot. I try to focus on good behaviour and how to learn how to do that.

I suggest talking with her to come up with a plan that works for both of you. I'd still help her be organized by you organizing homework. I wouldn't nag or push her. I would stop telling her why it's important. You've done that and it didn't help. She will learn.She may be more willing to work when she's a part of the plan.

Much of her behaviour may because she's going to what she perceives as harder. She may be afraid and handles it this way. She maybe unconsciously thinking I got to have fun now. I don't know what next year will be like. Or perhaps getting better grades isn't important to her. I suggest talking with her when both of you are more relaxed, about her goals. Then find a way to help her reach those as well as what needs to be done. For example, she wants to ride her ponies. Together map out a plan that will help her get that. Combine the ponies with the expectation of doing her homework. After you do homework you can..........

I also suggest you let the natural consequences that she gets at school be the reason to do homework.Middle school grades/ consequences are learning to handle high school. It's common at this age to think homework isn't important. Then when the parent adds consequences she misses the connection between homework and learning at school. I suggest you and your daughter are in a power struggle. She's at an age when kids start pulling away from parents as they slowly learn how to manage their lives. I suggest homework is not a battle worth fighting.

You can set up a quiet place to do homework and structure a routine. From this time to this time all kids will work on homework. TV will be turned off. If they have none they read. Then let her decide how she'll use that time. Don't remind her. Give her the responsibility for her own learning. Let her get poor grades, have to work on homework during recess. Etc.

My 17 yo grandaughter lives with me. I asked my counselor how I could get her into counseling, how to be sure she's taking her meds, how to get her to stop smoking. My counselor looked surprised. She said my granddaughter should be managed those things for herself. It's safer for her to have consequences now before she's 18. And make rules for what I expect in my house. After I told her that she's responsible for things now. I had already made rules in my house and had consequences for them. I let go of my need to be sure she was successful. I was anxious when she stayed. Now we get along much better. And I feel less stress.

I should have gadually started giving her responsibility over the last few years. Instead, I protected her by solving her problems when she needed to learn how to solve her problems in limited ways.i suggest homework is her problem to solve.

Love and Logic has 2 or 3 web sites that I find helpful.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Middle school can be a hard transition.
Generally these things are faced the first few months of school - not the last few weeks.
Your natural consequences have been ok so far.

Tell her school is important - more important than anything else (including horseback riding and trips during the school year - see, taking a long trip with school in session tells her that school isn't that important to you - so why should it be to her?)

You can try to micromanage her till she gets the hang of it - which is hard on you both but might work eventually.
Or you can tell her if she fails then she will repeat a year (or years) until she gets her act together - and if she fails then you will not be on board with horses or anything else.

"The quickest way to fun is to get the work done".
Cross stitch that and hang it on your wall.
Tell her these are words that you are all going to live by - and then follow through with it.
Horseback riding is a privilege not a right - and she has to earn it by applying herself to school and school work.
If she doesn't, then she goes without - and that's her choice.
She has the power to turn this around - she just has to quit pouting and get the school work completed.

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S.S.

answers from Atlanta on

You've never answered a post and this is your first question. I truly wish Mamapedia would put things on our profiles like how long we've been members.

As to your daughter? She needs to be held accountable for her decisions and actions. If she isn't "Getting it"? She needs a tutor. Sometimes getting an outside source to help is better than sitting at a table or desk at home grueling over it and having your parents yell at you or nagging at you to get it done.

Find out WHAT she needs in order to succeed. What will HELP HER? Find what WHAT she needs. She's 11, she should know what can help her.

Does she have ADD?
Does she have something going on that is distracting her?
Does she have friends that are moving or giving her a hard time?
TALK with her. Get her in a car for a long ride and start talking. If she's not missing riding and that's her "thing" there is something going on.

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R.L.

answers from Chicago on

I just wanted to add another experience of a disorganized child who grew up just fine. My son had a difficult time in middle school, but we felt strongly that our relationship with him was more important than any homework assignment, and just supported him through it as best we could. There is no evidence that homework is good for children anyway, and part of his difficulty was that much of the work was uninteresting to him. He eventually learned to address his organizational challenges when he was motivated to do so, which for him really wasn't until college, although high school was better than middle school. He's been working full time since college, and just received his master's degree. My advice would be to focus on your daughter's strengths and enjoy her. Discipline should be about teaching, not punishment.

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