Q: Our son won’t do his homework! He’s smart and capable; he’d just rather play or watch TV. I don’t want to see him fall behind in school, so I have to monitor him at every step. What can I do?
A: It’s hard to say for certain without knowing all the details (such as his age), but this sounds like it might be an opportune time for what Dr. Kevin Leman calls “Reality Discipline.”
This method is less exhausting and more successful than ranting, raving, blaming, pleading, begging or threatening. It helps children learn to think for themselves and to become more responsible through guidance and action-oriented techniques. Dr. Leman says, “Action-oriented discipline is based on the reality that there are times when you have to pull the rug out and let [them] tumble. I mean disciplining your children in such a way that he/she accepts responsibility and learns accountability for his actions.”
When it comes to your son and his homework, we’d suggest that you stop “monitoring him at every step.” Let him see what happens when he turns in an assignment late, or fails to turn it in at all. Enlist the support of his teacher. They can be a huge advocate in this process. He needs to discover that his actions, or in this case, inactions, have consequences. And he needs to understand that you will not always “bail him out” when he fails to take responsibility.
Your desire to see him not fall behind in school is admirable, but again, you’re not doing him any favours by making his homework your burden. A few missed assignments will not doom him for life. In fact, they very well may be just the motivation he needs to start doing his homework.
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