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Creative Discipline For Not Doing Homework

If you've gotten yet another call from your child's school reporting that he's forgotten his homework, you're probably out of patience. Whether your child is forgetful or just doesn't want to do his homework, he needs to get it done anyway. A few creative punishments might be just the motivation he needs to get himself in gear and do his homework on time.

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Instead of yelling at your child when he's, once again, forgotten his homework, let him experience the natural consequences of not turning it in on time. Elementary teachers might take away recess time and high school teachers might require the student to do an extra assignment as a punishment for being late. A poor grade is another example of a natural consequence. When your child gets the punishment and is upset, remind him that it's his job to do his homework on time. Once he realizes that he has the power to avoid natural consequences, he might be more likely to buckle down and get his homework done.

If your child keeps forgetting her homework, create additional assignments that she has to do on top of her usual assignments. Make the assignments boring, such as writing the numbers one through 100 as neatly as possible or making a list of 26 adjectives -- one that starts with each letter of the alphabet. If your child knows she'll have even more work to do if she doesn't get her homework done, she might be more likely to get it done on her own. You might use unpleasant chores instead of written work, too, according to the Focus on the Family website. If she doesn't get her homework done on time, ask her to wash the floor or wipe all of the doorknobs in your home. The more boring the chore, the more likely she is to get her school work done on time the next time around.

Establish an incentive program to motivate your child to do his homework, the National Association of School Psychologists suggests. You might give him a point each time he turns his homework in on time. After he gets a certain number of points, he can exchange them for a prize. The punishment comes in when he doesn't do his homework. If you're handing out points, perhaps he doesn't get one if he fails to do his homework or you might even take a point that he's already earned if his work isn't done on time. Not getting the reward is often plenty of incentive for a child to get busy and get his school work done when he's supposed to.

Making her pay might sound ominous, but it simply means she has to give you some of her spending money each time she fails to get her homework done. You can choose how much to charge, such as $1 for an assignment that was a day late, $2 if it was two days late or $5 if your child just didn't do the homework at all. The amount you charge depends on how much allowance your child gets. If she isn't motivated and you've taken all of her money already, make her work off what she still owes you by doing jobs around the house. The first time she isn't able to buy something she really wants, she'll probably reconsider doing her homework the next time around.

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I think punishing your son for this behavior is heading in the wrong direction! The only thing you're going to teach him through punishment is to hide his behavior better (and believe me, he can). 13 is the perfect age to develop the organizational skills that will get him through college, so try teaching instead of punishing (and if you're worried about it, don't worry - some of these steps will feel like punishment to him, anyway). He may just be lazy, instead of disorganized, but the steps you need to take will be the same.

Both my brother and I had serious problems turning in our homework. Organization was not a skill we had effectively developed, and my brother was eventually diagnosed with ADD, in the middle of high school. Looking back, my mother suspects I may have had ADD as well (it often shows itself differently in girls), but in any case, we both had to learn to be organized to cope with it.

Step one: make sure your son has a docket or assignment calendar to keep track of all his assignments. Have him help to pick it out, because I can only use calendars organized in a certain way or they don't organize the same way my mind does. Buy him two folders (of different colors) - one for assignments he hasn't completed, and one for things ready to turn in. Losing assignments was another problem my brother and I faced frequently.

Then, when he comes home, he gets a half hour to hour break from school, and then it's homework time. This is where that punishment-like feeling kicks in! Homework should be done in a public place without distractions (the kitchen table only works if the TV isn't on, for example) so that you can keep a close eye on him, and so that you are there to answer questions or help him through the tough parts. The first couple of times, you are going to have to be over-involved so that he knows he can come to you if he's really just stuck. Check his docket for him, and watch him work (make sure he's making progress). Ask him to show you his assignments. Let his teachers know you are doing this so that, if assignments still go missing, you'll know he is not using the docket, folders, or lying to you. Once he has the tools to be organized, lying is something you can punish.

If his behavior continues, you may want to meet personally with his teachers to talk to them. They may give you some mumbo-jumbo about either letting him do it on his own (organization) or them not having the time to personally monitor your son. But you need to have this sort of thing under control by high school or your son will become seriously overwhelmed, so engage everyone who will work with you. Yes, eventually, you will have to let him do it on his own, but apparently he's not ready for that yet.

I haven't had to use these techniques with my own children yet, and I'll confess, my parents started a little late with my brother and me. We were already in high school, and though we were both able to pull it together by the end, it would have been better for all involved if we had learned to be organized earlier (it's also a lot harder to keep a 16-year-old in line!) Good luck!

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