Thursday, November 21, 2013

Child Refuses To Do Homework, Mom Cannot Figure Why

Dear Tazi:

My usually bright, 11 year old son has suddenly refused to do his homework. He complains that it is too hard and gives up after only a few minutes. Because of this, his grades are slipping for A's and B's to C's and D's and even a few F's.

I have tried to talk to his teacher, but she just suggests that I help him in ways that I cannot - I do not understand the new math that kids are assigned, so I can't help him, and I do not have time to take him to after-school tutoring. His father has him on weekends (I am divorced) so I cannot schedule tutoring for Saturdays, either.

I have tried punishing my son by taking away privileges; rewarding him by extending privileges; and even bribing him with money for good grades but nothing sticks. Can you suggest any other ideas that will get my son back on track?

At My Wits' End!

Dear At My Wits' End!:

While I understand that you cannot help your son with his homework because you do not understand it yourself, I cannot understand why you cannot find a way to get him to and from after-school tutoring. Is his father available to take him? A grandparent or a friend? Surely there must be a way to put your son's needs first, even if it means missing a few hours with his father in order to meet with a tutor on Saturday mornings. This is something that requires you to co-parent with your ex-husband - as difficult as that may be, you need to work together to meet your son's needs.

My larger concern is your son's flagging work ethic - you write that he "gives up after only a few minutes". This is not normal behavior for a child who is ordinarily quite bright. Are there other problems going on that you are now aware of, such as bullying or feeling pressured to succeed? You do not say for how long you have been divorced, but could this be what is affecting your son?

This could also be the reason your son can't finish his homework!

Since revoking privileges and offering rewards is not working, there appears to be something deeper going on with your son - as his mother, it is your job to start digging. I suggest another meeting with his teacher to see how he is doing socially, and to find out if there is an underlying cause to this sudden drop in academic progress.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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