Imagine being on a 3-day road trip: on the first day, your excitement and the newness carry you through; on the last day, you’re almost there so you know you can hang on. But on that second day, it’s just the same thing all over again, as you find yourself stuck in the car watching the same scenery go by.
That’s the 3rd quarter of school for some teens. The newness of September is a vague memory, and June is a loooooooooong way off. Homework? I don’t feel like doing it anymore. And maybe if I ignore it, it’ll just go away.
Parental nagging and threatening are just exercises in futility – and a good reason to start an argument with Mom or Dad, which puts off homework even longer. Better solutions: incentives and/or consequences, agreed upon by all parties involved.
Incentives work best (after all, it’s usually the promise of a paycheck that gets me out of bed on a Monday morning). Start with a question like, “What’s it worth to you to bring that midterm D up to a B by the end of the quarter?” or “What’s it worth to you to have no late assignments in the next two weeks?” Negotiate until you can agree. Some parents flinch at the idea of paying for grades, but I’ve found success is its own reward. Hand over the cash (or movie tickets or dinner out) a couple of times, and you’ll find self-discipline becoming a habit in your teen, because it feels so good to do so well.
Consequences can also be effective, but they need to be agreed upon by everybody. Otherwise, it’s just another parent-imposed threat. Ask a similar question: “What would be a reasonable consequence if you still have a D at the end of the quarter?” And again – negotiate until you agree.
BUT – whether you’ve agreed on incentives or consequences, you may not nag or threaten: “Oh, well – I guess you don’t want that money after all!” or “If you don’t get busy on that homework, I’m going to quadruple that consequence!” Once you do that, you’ve set up yet another power struggle. It’s just inviting your teen to be uncooperative. Let the incentive/consequence work for itself, and keep your reminding (nagging) to a minimum.
In the meantime, I’ll refrain from reminding you that Spring Fever is just around the corner. . .