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Making Teen Boys Do Their Homework

by Erin Schreiner, studioD

Getting any child to sit down and put his nose in a book is a major challenge. Getting a teen boy to perform this feat is often even more difficult, leaving parents feeling frazzled and helpless. If your teen boy would rather do anything else other than his assigned at-home schoolwork, you have likely felt this frustration first hand. While it can feel like trying to motivate your teen boy to do his homework is tantamount to banging your head against a brick wall, the process doesn’t have to be so painful. Instead of continuing in your struggles, add some new tricks to your bag.

Vocabulary Revamp

All too often, parents’ requests that their teen boys do their homework are met with the go-to answer: “I don’t have any homework.” If this denial seems to be your teen boy’s battle cry, a simple change in your vocabulary could make a major difference. Drop the word “homework” all together, suggests Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller for NewsForParents.org. Use instead the word “study.” Set aside an hour or so of “study” time per night in which your teen boy must take part regardless of whether he admits to having any homework. If he doesn’t come home from school with something to complete during this study time, engage him in an independent study of your chosen topic. Once your teen realizes that he will not escape this block of time without building some brain cells, he will likely stop denying the existence of the inevitable homework.

Stay on the Sidelines

It can become tempting to micromanage your teen boy’s homework completion. Often, parents feel as if they must insert themselves into the process if they want homework to get done. Instead of doing this, keep your feet firmly planted on the sidelines and sidestep the micromanagement. Instead of becoming a participant in your teen boy’s homework, work to build his intrinsic motivation and personal feelings of responsibility. Have frank discussions with your teen in which you outline what may be at risk should he elect not to complete his homework. Teens often struggle to see the big picture, so shine some light on it. Explaining that doing homework leads to good grades and good grades lead to a good college can help your child see that each homework assignment is a small piece of a big picture, says Wayne Rice, founder and director of HomeWord’s Understanding Your Teenager.

Topic Selection

Nothing turns a teen boy off studying more than a topic that is perceived as “girly.” Help your teen boy by suggesting topics that interest him whenever topic selection is an option. If your teen boy has to do a physics paper, suggest that he focus on the physics of his favorite sport or some other topic that he is naturally inclined to explore. With effective topic selection, you can improve boys’ natural desires to complete their work, suggests Kristen Bevilacqua for “Getting Boys to Read,” which will likely reduce the amount of harping you will have to do.

Let Your Teen Suffer the Consequences

At the end of the day, the one who will suffer when your teen boy doesn’t complete his homework is him. If you have tried all variety of motivational techniques and your teen still fails to fall into line and make homework completion a priority, step back and allow him to suffer the consequences, suggests James Lehmen, MSW for Empowering Parents. This may mean failing a year in school, which is no one’s idea of a good time, but will almost undoubtedly serve as a motivating factor. If your child suffers some serious consequences and still fails to change his behavior, seeking professional help is a must as there is probably some underlying cause for this acute lack of motivation.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, Trails.com and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

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