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Bad Attitude About Homework

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My son is 14 years old and very bright. This year he's in the 8th grade and has developed a bad habit of either starting his homework 10 at night or saving it for the bus and study hall. I think homework would be more worthwhile done at home and not on the run. How can I get a mature young man with a mind of his own to change this habit? His grades are good in spite of this attitude, but I think he's going to be in trouble when he get to high school next year. Also, I'm not so sure about homework in study hall. I think he should be reading then and going forward, not doing homework. Thanks.

A: As much as it may seem tough advice for you to follow, you need to let your son see the natural consequences of his behavior. You are obliged as a parent to volunteer to help your son plan out a homework and study schedule that will maximize good results and minimize anxiety. You must set high, but realistic standards for his academic achievements and indicate that you expect to see him work up to his capabilities.

I agree that his current study habits are the sign of someone who is not managing his time well but not currently suffering from it in his mind, meaning his grades are still good. He is unfortunately, however, learning bad study habits which will not put him in good stead for the more challenging courses and time pressures of high school.

All we can do as parents, with kids of this age, is to calmly offer our opinions and assistance and then step back and let our children do "their job". If they do ask for our help after their poor decisions get them in trouble, we must not scold them for not heeding our advice, we must simply praise them for seeking out solutions to their difficulties. Your son will learn and grow based on what he demands from himself as well as your continued unconditional support.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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