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Posted by on Dec 8, 2015 in Boys at School | 0 comments

The Dog Ate My Homework

The Dog Ate My Homework by Clayton Lessor

Are you tired of the excuses from your teenage son on why the homework didn’t get done?

A Piece Of Advice

I’m going to “kill two birds with one stone” for you.  Based on my experience with the boys I see,  homework isn’t his priority, video games are.  And based on the parents I work with, “they’ve tried everything” and are at wits end.  Here’s the best piece of advice I can give you on this subject…

Natural consequences!  It’s imperative to establish natural consequences with your adolescent son.  What does that mean? 

It means if he doesn’t follow the rules you have established, then his choice leads to a natural consequence you have determined in advance.  It also means you have talked about it and been very clear “if you don’t do this, you’re choosing not to get what you want.” Remember, you’re trying to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior.  This method can be, and should be, used for any challenging behavior you are trying to change.

Healthy Choices

Basically, both of you want something: you need his homework done before he plays on his X-Box.  Your son on the other hand, wants to play games first and get to the homework later!  Let me give you an example here of how a conversation could go. 

“Son, I know you can’t wait to play video games, but the rule is, homework gets done first.  So as soon as you’re finished, you are free to play videos, watch T.V. or talk on the phone.” 

Be Consistent

Homework is given at every level of school, K-12.  The intent is to establish a consistent homework environment in the home.  I strongly suggest the same times Sunday-Thursday before dinner for 1-1½ hours at the kitchen table (preferably) or an area without TV or any other distractions.  Do this even if he says he has no homework.  The time can still be used to catch up on reading or projects.  You’re establishing a routine and habit!

Sounds easy enough right?  You can be sure he’ll test you to make sure you mean what you say.  I encourage you to do so or this will soon become “lip service.”  Once he realizes he can’t break the rules, your son’s behavior will begin to change.  Be prepared to be tested more than once.

My Opinion…

I’m not the guy to tell you video games are bad, they’re not bad.  They can become addictive and that’s when they are bad. When your son stays up too late and can’t get out of bed for school, that’s when they’re bad. 

When homework doesn’t get done because time got away from him, that’s when they’re bad.  Boys love gaming, it offers them a sense of competition, winning (getting to the next level), adventure and being social (part of a group).  All things boys love!  As a parent, you must help him manage this want by offering him natural consequences.  And by doing this you are teaching healthy boundaries and limits using moderation.

Have you, or are you struggling to get your son to do his homework?  I’d like to hear from you, post your questions on my Facebook page or in the comments below. I’d like to help you.

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Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor, PhD in education and counseling, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. He is author of “Saving Our Sons: A Parent's Guide to Preparing Boys for Success." Clay has seen over 2000 boys since 2000 and facilitated over 300 Quest Project groups. Boys attend a 10-week "boys to men program" where they and their parents will learn the tools needed to get through these turbulent teen years.
Clayton Lessor
Clayton Lessor

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