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Establishing Homework Rules for Teens

by Maggie McCormick

As your child enters the teen years, homework becomes a lot more complicated. Not only is there more of it, but the importance of grades increases, as he looks to colleges. Though you want a child who takes responsibility for himself, it's smart to set a few ground rules when it comes to homework.

Working Together

Teens usually hate when others impose their rules on them, so if you want your teen on board when it comes to homework rules, try developing the rules with her input. Talk about what you expect her to do at home and about how she can best do her work. Some teens can quickly take care of homework assignments in study hall at school, while others have to spend a lot more time at home. You may also find that she works better in a dedicated study space in her room, or out in the open where she can get some help from you. Set some rules about homework and other activities, such as no TV until all homework is completed or working continuously for 45 minutes before taking a 15-minute break. Let her negotiate her position rather than laying down the law.

Logical Consequences

When he doesn't follow the rules, the consequences of his actions should fit the crime. If he put off homework to hang out with friends, you may decide that he can't go out with friends for a week. If he's playing too many video games and his schoolwork is slipping, take the game system away for a week. Avoid doling out a punishment when you're angry. Make sure that it fits logically with his bad behavior.

Setting the Routine

It can take some time for your teen to get into the routine. The first few weeks are important. Spend extra time checking in with her, and seeing that she follows the rules and completes her homework. After she's into the full swing of it, she won't need you as much anymore.

Following Up

Revisit the homework rules as necessary. You may need to increase homework time during midterms or finals, as he'll need to spend more time studying. If he's started a new activity, or the sports season has just ended, consider rearranging the homework schedule to fit the new schedule. Homework rules don't need to be set in stone to be effective. Flexibility is always the key to being an effective parent.

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