What to Do When Teens Refuse to Do Homework or Fail a Class

Some teens are naturally motivated and others are not. Some teens are able to succeed at school with ease, and others struggle. But, what is a parent to do when their teen simply refuses to do homework or is suddenly failing a class? Experts recommend parents work to discover the root cause and creatively problem solve with their teen.

j0178426Ask Your Teen

Most of the time, parents feel a little shocked when they are confronted with a school problem. Maybe your teen has outright refused to do any work, or maybe you received a notice from the teacher, or maybe you got a disappointing surprise on their interim report. Whatever has brought the problem to your attention, it’s important to take a deep breath and work to understand the issue. The first step is to ask your teen what is going on. Notice the word ask. That means you don’t start the conversation with accusations, yelling, blame, or threats. Instead, enter into the conversation with a sense of curiosity to see if you can help uncover the possible reasons why he or she isn’t getting their homework done or passing the class.

Determine the Root Cause

If your teen refuses to do homework or is failing a class, don’t jump to the conclusion that he is simply acting out of defiance. More than likely, there is some underlying problem(s) contributing to the issue. For example, stress, bullying issues at school, classes that are too advanced, test-taking anxiety, too many absences, learning disabilities, and depression are all possible problems that can contribute to behavior changes. Remember that when high school students fall behind in their classes for any reason (absence, material too difficult, bad test-taking day), catching up can be quite difficult. When grades begin to plummet, many teens give up. Talk to them about their struggles. Ask them: “How is your current situation different from how you would like it to be?”

Separately, parents should talk to the teen’s teacher to obtain their thoughts and perspectives. Again, parents should enter such a conversation with an open mind and a willingness to listen to the teacher’s opinion.

Develop Solutions with Your Teen

Once parents feel like they understand the problem, they should sit down with their teenager and brainstorm a list of possible solutions to the given situation. They can ask their son or daughter what they have already tried before (whether it’s in this situation or in similar situations in the past), and what outcomes they experienced. Ask them to predict likely consequences, both positive and negative, for each possibility. Teens should be encouraged to not limit themselves, but to come up with as many options as possible, even if they seem unrealistic, because this creative process may help generate even better solutions. Once you have made a list of options together, help your teen narrow them down. For each option, consider how realistic it is, how likely the teen would be to implement it, and the potential obstacles.

Sometimes, homework or grade battles simply need a creative solution. For example, some teens are willing to stay after school to complete their homework, so long as they don’t have to do work at home. Other teens need some control over when they are going to do their work, so they may need to unwind for an hour after school and then do their work. Teens who are failing due to a learning disability or missed schoolwork, might be willing to work with a tutor. Parents should offer their own ideas, but MUST be willing to try their teen’s suggestions and ideas. The process of identifying the problem and developing the solution will empower your child, give them a sense of ownership in fixing the problem, and will ultimately give them confidence when they overcome the issue.

Additionally, parents should help their teen establish healthy study habits that will allow him/her to be successful. Some good study habits include: creating a designated homework time and space, removing distractions including electronics, being available to help your teen when they have a problem or get frustrated, teaching them time management skills, and helping them to get organized. You can learn more from our previous blog, Good Study Habits in Teens.

Establish Expectations and Rules

In general, parents should establish rules and expectations about homework based on their individual child. For example, if you have a teen who is fairly responsible with his homework most of the time, it may be appropriate to allow him/her to face the natural consequences of a bad grade or detention when he/she doesn’t do their work.

However, if you have a child who is refusing to do homework or is failing, and you’ve done the previous steps to try to find the problem and have discovered there is no underlying problem, then rules are warranted. Establish appropriate expectations, and more importantly, develop rewards for following them and consequences for not. Then you must follow through on your plan. For example, create small measurable goals. If your teen puts in a lot of effort for 30 minutes, then he gets a 10-minute break. Or consequently, confiscate his electronics each day until he completes his homework. Phones, tablets and other electronics are a privilege, and he cannot earn them if he chooses to not do his work.

Final Thoughts…

Experts say that the best thing parents can do when faced with school problem is stay calm and open-minded. Nagging and lecturing – although tempting parenting techniques – are never effective and usually harm your relationship. Bribing your teen to get work done can sometimes work in the short run, but quickly loses its appeal to your child and can actually instill a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Additionally, threatening a consequence that you will never follow-through on will only reinforce the negative behavior. Instead, follow the tips above to discover the problem and creatively solve it with your teen. Not only will it truly address the problem, it will also teach your teen how to address future challenges.


  • I’m 15 and one problem I have with school is just the way it prevents me from living life. I have so many plans but all of them have to wait so long to accomplish. It just feels like school is holding me back and having to go through it is pointless until I get to the degrees I actually want. I want to get a degree in business and marketing and become an entrepreneur but to do so I’ll have to go through lots of school that, while it may be useful in some way, doesn’t feel useful at all right now. I could just drop out of course since you don’t need a degree to become an entrepreneur, but I want the business knowledge to help me succeed. Not to mention the fact that becoming a dropout can have bad effects on your social life and the way people think of you. I could start it while in school, but finding the time to do that with all the schooling, homework, and extracurricular activities I have would be a nightmare. It causes lots of internal conflict and drains all motivation to do school.

  • Im in the same boat for the 2nd year in a row. We did counseling, intervention school program for 6months straight, tutoring and he still fail math and science. Everyone says he’s lazy and has no deficiencies. This year he’s still failing science english and math. Only had an A in PE. He goes to school everyday and nothing is working. At what point do I say oh well you don’t care so I won’t either. There’s only 5 1/2 years left until he’s 18 and I feel time is running out.

    • margaret mcquillan

      I have a grandson in same situation. The best I can see is a junior carpenter course or business course.

  • My 17 year old son is unmotivated, is not doing his homework and as a consequence he is failing his classes, most of the time he don’t want to go to the school. he is taking 5 AP classes as his own decision but is not doing the work that those classes required and refused to drop them. I don’t know what to do, he wants to get a job and i am supporting him in apply, but i want him to finish school but he is not doing anything. I spoke with the school counselor and we are considering drop some of his classes but i don’t want my son feels more depressed if we do it. I trying to be patient and talk to him but he is not motivated about school at all. Please help

    • I can say “ditto” to almost everything you’ve mentioned. We have a 17 year old son. He’s also taking AP courses but has refused to do any hw since about October and is failing several classes badly. The last 1.5 years have been out of character in that he normally worked hard and wouldn’t quit on things – over time we’ve seen him slowly quit on one thing after another (and not just in academics). Now it’s piling up.

      When his parents ask, a counselor asks, the pastor asks, or his teachers ask “why aren’t you doing hw?” the answer is always “i don’t know…” and then some circular reasoning about things that aren’t really relevant. He does very well on almost all the exams but it’s not enough in highschool if you don’t do any HW (or sometimes fail to turn in quizzes).

      It’s quite sad, he has no happiness in anything or desire for anything except to watch youtubers talking about random inconsequential things. If we take away the computer he sits in a dark room with lights off telling us he can waste time in other ways besides watching youtube if needed. When we ask serious questions respectfully he tears up but then quickly puts on a blank face.

      We’ve met with professional counselors but so far haven’t identified the root issue. He’s not clinically depressed. Like you we don’t want to demoralize him further by pulling him out of the things he’s doing in school but soon we may have a highly gifted kid who fails a year of highschool and next year will probably not be any better at this rate.

      • My brother is the same way! very bright kid, but refuses to do any homework. Would rather play games and watch videos. He is also becoming quite rude to his teachers, we haven’t figure out the root issue. At this point, we are just letting him fail, maybe he needs to learn the hard way..

      • Our son is just like yours; has always been considered exceptional, showing great potential, but now completely uncaring about anything and unmotivated to do any schoolwork. Since online learning became mandatory he will log into his classes then do other things. As a result he’s failing 3 classes and barely passing 2 others. This started the second part of his junior year and has continued this year. It’s gone from thinking about what college to try for to blowing off the SAT test, failing classes and now possibly not graduating High School. (This from a kid who took the PSAT’s in 10th grade and scored 1360 without studying). We understand that there may be some underlying issue and reason for his lack of motivation so we approach it in a caring way (most days). He’s not defiant, just completely unmotivated. I think back to the day years ago when the schools all announced they would be switching entirely to computer learning. That essentially means without internet kids cannot due schoolwork. How do you discipline or have structure with school work when kids have all these temptations and distractions right in front of them to click on? If book learning was still in place simply turning off the internet and allowing it for certain times as a reward would be ideal. Instead we have a nation of distracted, unfocused, addicted to electronics young people. We took a step back from expectations and now are focused more on his emotional and physical well being. Just getting him to graduate is the aim, then maybe encouraging him to get a job after graduating. If there was a life course for kids who need a sense of direction in a supportive, encouraging way I would like to know about it.

    • I get it. I am in the same position as your son right now. I am in my sophomore year of high school and I can’t really explain it but when second semester started, I was so unmotivated to do anything. Of course, I’ve never been inspired or motivated for school, but I’ve never been a bad student either. Well, at least not until I started completely ignoring my work and letting it pile up so bad that I have begun to lose all hope. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve completely lost all motivation and initiative to do my work. Since this quarantine, everything has gotten worse. I have all F’s except for in art class. In art, I believe I still have a B or at least a C. However, I don’t check anymore because I am scared to look at my grades as it reminds me of my constant failure. Of course, I take full responsibility for my wrongful actions. I know what I’m doing right now is not going to get me anywhere but held back in my academics, but for some reason I keep diving head first into this endless black hole of failure and despondency. It started out as procrastination. I’ve never had any enthusiasm about school work and have always been a procrastinator, even in middle school, but since going into high school…it’s gotten MUCH worse. I find myself day-dreaming and fantasizing about this “perfect” productive life and thinking a lot about the future while not taking recognition of the fact that I am so far behind, I may not have a future. Basically, I have a very active imagination and can sometimes channel this habit of mine to idealize my life and future- it’s almost like I’m living in this made up world of assurance and protection for myself where everything is going to work out the way I want it to unlike in reality. I have always been a very sensitive and easily downed child, so when I entered into high school pessimistic thoughts would flood my mind over and over again (more than usual). I don’t claim to have a problem (mentally) nor have I ever been diagnosed with anything (although I’ve never been checked for anything since I don’t normally express my stress and depression to people- not even family, not that they’d take much notice anyway). I also have no solution to this reoccurring problem of mine yet. However, the one thing I’d recommend you do is let your son get a job. As ridiculous as it sounds to let him get a job when he can’t even focus on school (which I do agree that education is more important than a job, in some cases), I think a job might make him less obstinate or noncompliant, as well as teach him some responsibility. It can also help if he is going through something right now like early senioritis/senioritis and/or slight or mild depression and stress. I don’t know exactly how to explain this, but when I think about getting a job I think about being able to provide for myself and getting myself better things and the proper stuff I need to stay motivated and consistent. If you’re son is anything like me, he will feel like this too. He may, however, already have everything he needs (or that you think he needs), but being able to work hard for and earn our own money makes us feel more like we’ve got everything together. Besides, there are some things that kids don’t want to bother their parents for, so we like to take it upon ourselves and try to figure it out for ourselves. This is all a part of growing up. A job may help with this. With a job, he would learn responsibility. Also, since he would be getting an immediate reaction out of a job (i.e. money and with that money comes self-gifting/purchasing something for himself with his hard earned money, which can prove to be quite awarding for a teenager or really anyone), he might appreciate the achievements he makes more rather than if he were getting a reward/reaction in school (i.e. a “good job” or a temporarily good feeling, which may not always be enough if we’re being honest here). I would also recommend getting him a trustworthy guide/ or guidance counselor that can be with him every step of the way to make sure he completes all of his work until he is ready to do that for himself. I know he is in high school and shouldn’t need someone like that but sometimes we need a bit of a push, so having someone to sit there and help him with homework/ monitor or guide him as he finished everything will help. He may be interested in other things as well- things that his school does not provide. So, I would personally recommend getting him more interested in better hobbies (not too much as sports since that can just add to the stress) but finding things that he is passionate in and allowing himself to do those things. However, this can be tricky because if his passion is something like YouTube, gaming, etc., he may confuse this with meaning he should submerse himself in these tricky habits and that will distract him from school/work even more. So, I’d say if he were interested in something like YouTube get him to do things relative to that activity, but also relative to school (e.g. watching videos on self-improvement/educational videos and including YouTube videos daily into his routine to help with his homework or just giving him a temporary break every now and then as a reward). I know this may seem kind of like babying him, but I’m saying to maybe just follow these simple steps as to monitor and guide him and before you know it, he’s developing these better habits on his own w/o help from anyone! Please take my advice because, being in the same situation right now as your son, I would love for my parents to show this much concern and initiative for me! Also, last but not least, let him know that in order to get where he want to be in life (goals or paths they want to follow in order to be truly happy) they have to get it over with and finish high school first. That way when the time comes and they graduate, they can take whatever necessary steps they need in order to get to where they need/want to be and hopefully by then they will have a better mindset for their future! He could also be going through something or experiencing a lot of stress, so please continue to be there for him and talk to him! As well as just let him know that you’re there whenever he needs you and be more approachable by (with all due respect) nagging less and exhibiting/practicing more communication and reasoning/understanding with your child!

      p.s. invest in an agenda/journal that they can keep up with! they can write lingering deep and personal thoughts and/or use it as a planner to stay ahead of the game and follow along with school/work better.

      • Olivia – THANK YOU!!!! You have no idea how much your post helped me! My son is 13 and just started with the missing assignments this year. At first, I reacted with anger, but then I could see in his eyes that he was hurting, so I changed my tone and started help him instead. According to your post, I am heading in the right direction with him. Today, we sat down together and went through his work to see what he has coming up and he wrote it all in his new planner. He was way more responsive to that than the yelling.

        Again, Thank you so much for taking the time to help parents…that is quite noble. Oh, and BTW, your writing is awesome – good grammar and well written. I have never seen such writing from a teenager before. Way to go!

      • Hi Olivia thanks for helping us. But my child, she would come home and goes into her room and be on her phone and then lie and says she is doing her homework and that its completed and submited. Then I will get an email from her teachers. Everyday. She is a sophomore and I have try to be good and nice to her but I can’t do it no more.

      • Olivia I love your post and just like Lisa said your a great writer and I think you would be great as a writer someday. Keep up the good work with your writing because I see you going places just go with it. Find something you love to do that will help motivate you to succeed in all your classes. Take care my dear!

  • I have an 11yr old son in his 1st yr of middle school. He’s failing 3 classes and C’s and D’s in the other classes. He’s been in therapy he is in intervention at school and has a whole team working to get him back on track and he’s getting worst. He lies about everything. He doesn’t do his classwork, his h.w., fails test, loses all his school supplies and refuses to go to after school tutoring. Everything has been taken away from him and he doesn’t care. He just started acting up in class and he blamed it on the other kids and the teacher. I don’t know what to do. Professionals tell me there’s no learning disability or ADD or ADHD. I’m doing everything what is left to do!?!?

    • You are doing a great job! You have gotten him professional help in therapy and are working with the school. Those are the most important things, and I commend you in taking those important steps. This type of situation is not fixed quickly. The therapy will take time, but don’t stop. In addition, every child is different, so there is no one right or wrong way to help them. I encourage you to read a couple of other articles that might offer you some ideas:

      For dealing with an unmotivated teen: https://middleearthnj.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/when-your-teen-lacks-direction/
      For dealing with a teen who lies: https://middleearthnj.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/teens-and-lying/

      There is a root cause to your son’s behavior, and it will take time to discover it. For example, some teens feel they are protecting themselves from failure by not caring or committing to anything. Other teens are so overwhelmed by stress, they withdraw. Others become so focused on their peers, their only motivation is to enhance their “image.” Your son’s therapist will be vital in discovering the root cause. And if that therapist doesn’t seem to be able to determine the root cause, then don’t hesitate to try another one. Your son and the therapist have to “click” for any progress to be made.

      Parenting is such a difficult job, but I encourage you to take one day at a time and look for the positive qualities in your son that you can genuinely praise – that will make both of you feel better. Best of luck!

    • Jaz, Please tell me you have found something that has helped. I could have written this word-for-word myself right down to the age, grade and excuses. I am feeling soo helpless and frustrated at this point.

  • I have a 14 and a 13 year old they refused to do work for the longest time I’m a step-mom its been difficult we took away everything (even non electronics) all they had was school work and chores. So now they are home schooled and they have finally started doing chores and a little more homework (yes they do fight but a lot less. Our 8 year old does everything she needs to do. The oldest still refuses to do math and the 13 year old has been rude because he doesn’t want to do anything still but he does it. Just put your foot down.

  • I have a 17 year old son is getting almost all F in high school. I don’t see him do homework and he doesn’t seem to care. he mention something about joining the marines but nowdoesn’t seem interested. He spent a lot time with friend that are good influence . I cannot force him to do anything . At first I took everything away and still nothing change. He does chores once in awhile. I am alone working two jobs. with six children to raise.

  • Bonnie S Flores

    I have a 15 year old daughter, she has been failing school since 6th grade. By the end of the year the teachers enter a grade just high enough to pass her. I have tried everything that I can think of. Read every thing I can get my hands on and tried it all. Nothing works. She has lost all electronics, been grounded and she is in therapy. I am so stressed out over her that I tend to get a bit mean sometimes ( not a good thing and it makes me feel bad ) I am tired at this point and giving up. SHE JUST DOES NOT CARE!!

    • This is definitely a difficult issue for many parents! You are not alone! When situations get really tough, and the parents have tried all the traditional approaches, it’s often time to get outside help. A family therapist or a local Family Crisis Intervention Unit can work with both the parents and the teen to find a resolution. There is no easy solution, but with patience and professional guidance, it is possible to get to a better place!

  • I am not alone 🙁

  • My son is 15 years old. We have enrolled him in the on-campus ROTC program as well as contacted the counselors and all teachers. He is even going to tutoring three times a week after school. He still seems to have no interest in studying or doing his homework. I have addressed all the issues that I think you may have. I have questioned him grounded him and have taken away All Electronics indefinitely. What do you do if this problem has been an ongoing problem since the beginning of school? He has even threatened to quit school. My problem is that I’m the only one that seems to care about his grades. His blatant disregard for his grades is causing me stress and not him. I feel for all parents going through this situation because we can care all day long but until he cares nothing will change

    • I’m so sorry that you are going through this! Nothing is more difficult than wanting the best for your child, but watching them throw it away. I know you feel helpless, stressed and frustrated. You are not alone – many parents go through this difficulty! Unfortunately, there is no easy solution or perfect answer – every situation and every person is different. However, we highly recommend that you read our previous blog, https://middleearthnj.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/motivating-a-teen-to-change-destructive-behaviors/ because it addresses many of these issues you are talking about. We also always encourage families in these situations to seek out family counseling. Sometimes an outside observer can offer ideas that we never think of ourselves! We wish you the very best of luck!

    • I am going through the same exact thing. My son is almost 13. The feeling of hopelessness is setting in so fast for me. Like your situation, he doesn’t seem to care whatsoever about failing. I almost wish there was a root cause i can identify with other than “I hate school work”, like a bullying problem, or depression, etc.

      We have done all of the above. no results. Its so heart-breaking. The last and only thing he LOVES to do and looks forward to is hockey and we finally took that away last night.

      He isn’t a disrespectful kid, he doesn’t act out, he loves to hang out with the family and enjoys having conversations on politics, history and current events. Just hates school work.

      Since you posted this, have you tried something different that has given you results? Any suggestion would be so welcomed.

      • Ilona A. Silva Alvarez

        my daugther is the same. Instead of hockey is ballet. I am at my wits end. She is a bright xhild who had all As in the first quarter, then started lowering her grades anf I realized it was because she was not doing her homework. She got 3 Ds in the 3rd quarter on the 3 subjects that she does not like: math and office productivity and the one that she needs to put a little effort. As in the rest because ahe like it. I have taken electronics and let her therapist know. We do have screaming matches and eventually she calms down and understands that she os not doing her work but in 1 or 2 weeks she is at it again. She is a good child, kind and very smart. I have asked during lenghty sensivle conversations why she is not doing her homework and her response is always ‘I don’t know’. She also lies about having finished her homework to get to do something fun and I don’t find out until later. I really don’t kbow what else to do but I don’t want next year to be like this one so I have already told her there will be no extracurricular classes next year if her 4th quarter is like her 3rd but we are 3 weeks into it and she is still not doing her homework.

      • Your son sounds like my son. He is not disrespectful and a joy to be around. All he cares about his soccer. He is a freshman in high school with low grades (failing algebra..I got him a tutor). He doesn’t care about failing. His attitude is “I’ll take it next year.” What did you do with your son? Please help me help my son.

  • My step son 13 and a freshman in high school. He just will not do him homework at all… He doesnt miss school but he is failing all classes. Terrible test scores and is down right disrespectful to his teachers peers and to his little brothers too. Tried everything… He doesnt seem to want to anything to help. Any advise?

    • Our son was adopted, lost his adoptive parents and we are the fourth set of parents he has known. he is partially sighted, has ADHD, and severe Reactive Attachment Disorder. Follow the above… It does work… We moved all his electronic devices into different rooms: some rooms give him privacy, some rooms makE sure he has time with us so we keep up with who we are dealing with and we are building a good study pattern for his main exams and we are all getting to know each other much better. The important thing was to take the additive habit of electronic gadgets away. He now does more activities with us and opening up more. We worked together on a ladder chart that you climb as he accomplishes main milestones. If he is unsuccessful we have built in backup options or ways to get there. It has all the things he needs to do to get what he wants and the consequences if he misses a step or two he has backup steps. we got the school involved too and the college we hope he goes to for his choice in his career.

  • OMG I am living all of these nightmare with my 15 and 12 year old. Just got an email today that my 12 year old had 30 minutes to do an assignment and turned it in blank. WTH

  • I have the same problem with one of my son’s he just doesn’t care. The last 2 years of middle school he flunked a couple of classes during one semester then turned around a little bit and passed the next semester by a narrow margin. Went to summer school for the flunked classes and since the summer school is all online he completed both classes in a week and a half. This year he is a freshman in high school and he is failing all his classes, except 2 English and ROTC. His dad and I are at our wits end.

  • I think we should pray for them and encourage ,lets talk to them what they would like to become ,give them time to think and show love to them.

  • I have the same exact situation as Cat and Pete. My daughter is 14 years old. She has ALWAYS has a problem with homework. And its not just getting it done, its turning it in too. She just doesn’t seem to care. I know its not because she is having issues with the work itself because some of her missing work is for a Health class. This is easy stuff! She loves to read and is very good at it. She scores at a college level. She has to complete a reading log for her English class and she failed it last month because she didn’t complete any of it. And this is something that she IS actually completing. In my eyes, its pure laziness. I have taken away everything you can imagine. Phone, video games, TV privileges and nothing seems to “get to her”. The other day she sat at the kitchen table and literally refused to do any homework. She just sat there and scribbled on a notepad. I don’t know what to do. Im at a loss. Im exhausted from getting emails from all her teachers saying how bad she is doing. I tired of talking with her about it and getting yelled at for it. Any suggestions would be MUCH appreciated.

    • Maybe homeschooling her. Or an online school.

    • I feel the same. Sometimes I just feel like I’m the bad parent. My son is the same. I have so many talks to him and explain to the best of my ability how important it is and I am here to help him. But all he does is continue with what his doing or roll his eyes. Feeling frustrated.

    • Look like you are just describing my 11 year old daughter, and she is not just refusing to do her homework, but she also refuses to clean her room or help with anything in the house!! she is also very good reader and i´m always pointing on that as a very positive thing!, the teachers wont stop email me at least once at week by 5 teachers its to much to handle for me!! I´m about to be on strikes as a mom.. it´s being more than a year when you write here, did you find the solution?? did your daughter got any better?

      • Hey Fabs! No unfortunately I have still not found a solution. She is now 15 and a Freshman in high school. She has been failing both Math and Science since the beginning of the school year. She NEVER brings homework home to work on. She never even brings a backpack to school! I am seriously at a loss with her. I just keep telling her now that she is in High School and her grades are more important than ever. If she fails a class, she has to make it up either in the summer or next school year but that doesn’t really seem to faze her. She simply just doesn’t care. She just keeps telling me that its her life and I shouldn’t care. She never does anything around the house and when we do ask her to do something simple, she gets so angry right away. I hate to say it, but she’s just selfish. She doesn’t care about anyone but herself and is only nice to us when she wants something. People just keep telling me this is typical teenage behavior but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating to deal with.

  • The comment made by Cat could have been written by me. Our son is exactly this and the same age. The article is good. However, we are not looking at a ‘change’ in behaviour, my son has NEVER done any homework. He just flatly refuses. He gets more and more referrals and then detentions. He just doesn’t seem to care! People say, ‘start with communication’ but he just won’t talk about it. All he says is, ‘I don’t care.’ We have tried homework club where he attends for one hour each week. This worked for a while but then he forgets and then is behind and gets another detention. He ended last year with 180 negative referral points. We were shocked when his 3yrs elder sister received just one. Little did we know what was coming!
    We have met with his teachers on my occasions. They have been very supportive, but still no result.
    They don’t have a school councillor as such. We have absolutely no idea how to connect with this child.
    Any help, from anyone, would be very, very most welcome.

  • We have a 14 year old 8th grader and nothing seems to work. He starts off each year with a “this year will be different” and then it goes downhill from there with him barely passing. We have tried reward. Didn’t work. This year we have slowly removed electronics until now he’s facing a summer with no electronics of any sort. It doesn’t seem to be working. His teachers complain that he’s not turning in work and spending most of his days staring at the walls. He just says he hates the teachers and the school work but loves seeing his friends at school. At this point in the year he has a B, a C, a D and 3 F’s. Once again, if his grades don’t change he will pass with about a quarter of a grade clearance. My husband contends that just getting harder on him will work. I’m not so sure. I think he’s at the age where he knows what to do, he’s just refusing to do it. He is a good kid otherwise. He’s been offered rewards for doing work but that isn’t working. He enters High School next year and we are not sure what to do. If we spend a lot of money to hire a tutor, which we don’t have the money to do, then there is no way to be sure he’ll even do the work with a tutor and it could be money down the drain. Do we just let him fail while keeping any privileges here at a minimum? At some point he will figure out that the person he is harming is himself, right? I read your article. We have no school counselor to consult. His teachers give homework but short of walking into each classroom with him each day I have no way of making sure he brings it home. I also can’t sit with him in class to make sure he pays any attention or does his work. It’s like he doesn’t believe us when we, or anyone else, tell him that this is harming his future life. Please help if you can.

    • Hi Cat,
      This could have been written by me! Has the situation improved one year on? I am at wits end. Like you I’ve tried everything. Please help.

  • I think this is often a good time to seek advice of a school guidance counselor. fortunately, if you don’t have that option, there are a number of excellent reading resources from well qualified professionals. By far the best I have found is Parents in Highschooland by Karyn Rashoff.
    The advice and ideas offered in this book really opened my eyes to a lot of ways that I could get involved to encourage and support my kids though high school. A must-read for parents of high school teens in my eyes.

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