Question: Allie is our third child.....she's 14 and a freshman in high school. Her therapist(she's on ADD and anti-depressant meds) says we should leave her alone in regards to homework. She says that Allie needs to be responsible for her work and that after the first quarter, if she there are missing assignments or poor grades, then we should start consequence her.
The school however recommends that we should check her homework nightly making sure it's complete. What is your opinion?
Answer: Dear Ethan, I do believe children should be responsible for their own work however, I also believe children need all the support they can get from their parents. While I don't believe a parent should do a child's homework for them there is certainly nothing wrong with checking to see if they have completed their homework. I disagree with the therapist as I do not believe that negatively reinforcing any behavior is beneficial to you or your child.
When you check her work and she doesn't have it complete then a consequence of turning off the TV, not allowing telephone calls or other activities until the homework is completed is reasonable. If this doesn't produce a completed project suggesting she bring the homework to the family table and completing it where she can ask for help is a good idea.
After this however, if she just refuses to complete the homework then allowing her to deal with her teachers herself is certainly her problem. I would certainly positively reinforce her with praise whenever she completes her homework and tell her you understand how challenging it can be and how you know she would prefer to be doing something else. I do believe there are ways to build her empowerment and make her feel like she is making her own choices. Such as offering her positive choices such as you can do half of your homework now and the other half of your homework at 9:00 before bedtime.
Or you can start your homework after an hour of TV, etc...... just do not under any circumstances offer her choices you do not want her to choose. Make sure you can easily live with whatever her choice will be so she cannot fail by making a choice. The more choices she can make with your approval the more she will seek to make positive choices in the future.
M Kay Keller