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What Causes Teens Not to Do Homework?

by Amber Keefer, studioD

Teens who do their homework without complaining might do it because they want to get good grades, and some teens don’t want their parents to get mad at them for not doing their homework. As for those teens who fail to do their homework, child behavioral therapist James Lehman believes it’s not that kids aren’t motivated, it’s just that they're motivated to do the things they want to do. What they want to do might not involve doing homework.

Higher Priorities

Just because a teen’s top priorities don’t always include doing homework doesn’t mean he lacks motivation in general. He just sees things other than schoolwork as being more important. Social activities, dating, sports and part-time jobs often take up more of a teenager’s time, pushing homework to the bottom of his to-do list. The problem is that by the time teens enter high school their teachers give them more homework, and they need good grades to get into college. Child development experts with the Kids Health website say parents can help by explaining the benefits of why schoolwork needs to take a higher priority over other activities even though it takes time to do.

No Consequences

Your teen may need incentives to get her to buckle down and do her homework every night. Besides rewarding her with extra privileges for completing all her assignments, you also need to make it clear what the consequences will be if she doesn’t study when she is supposed to. Making rules for doing homework teaches your teen to be responsible and self-disciplined as you prepare her for life in the real world. The Focus on the Family website points out that parents need to follow through on the rules and consequences they establish or else they aren't likely to see positive results.

Parents' Nagging

Nagging your teen to do his homework can have the opposite effect from what you want. Instead of doing what you tell him to do, your teen might not do his homework just to irritate you. Clinical psychologist Anthony E. Wolf suggests negotiating with your teen. Make him understand that although you'll stop nagging him to do his homework, you still expect him to get it done on time. Give him a time to do his homework in which he isn’t allowed to be on the computer or talking on the phone with his friends until it’s done.

Need for Control

Teens who don’t like being told what to do sometimes use homework as a way to show their parents who is boss. Your teen -- not you -- is responsible for her education. Wayne Rice, founder of HomeWord, an organization that helps families succeed, advises giving your teen choices, yet at the same time letting her know she is responsible for what comes of the choices she makes. She's the one who has the most to lose in the end if she doesn't do her homework.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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