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Making Teen Boys Do Their Homework

Long gone are the days when your son found girls annoying and the only homework he had to do involved crayons. He's got more going on in his life than ever, and like most teenage boys, he can easily find 101 things he'd rather do than geometry problems. If you're constantly battling with your son to get his homework done -- not to mention handed in on time -- you're not alone. Convincing him to put down the video-game controller and pick up his homework can be a challenge.

Identify Barriers

Work with your son on a plan to help him get his homework done. According to John Andrew Williams, founder of Academic Life Coaching and a former high-school Latin teacher, "The biggest reason that students procrastinate on their homework is because they don't know the concepts or how to do it." Other common problems include disorganization and boredom. Ask your son what he thinks is getting in the way of doing his work, and try to solve the problem together. For example, would staying after school one day a week for extra help with the teacher make a difference? Once you identify the problem, he may be able to help come up with solutions.

Set Aside Homework Time

Schedule some time each day for homework to encourage good study habits. "Only 1 in 5 students improve their grades significantly after 10th grade," warns Williams, so getting those habits in place early is important. Work with your son to decide how much homework time is reasonable to reserve. For some teens, an hour is enough, but for others, two hours is more like it. If he doesn't have any homework or he completes it early, allow him to read until homework time is over. Give your son a choice about when that homework time should be carved out. Some kids need time to unwind after school before jumping right into doing homework.

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Establish Rules

Let your child know what the consequences will be if he doesn't do his work. For example, make it a rule that you'll take away his electronics privileges if his homework is not handed in to his teachers on time. Or don't allow him any of his weekend privileges until all of his work from the week is complete. It's important to also offer rewards to motivate him to do his work. Provide him with extra privileges, such as a later curfew, if he shows increased responsibility with getting his work done on time.

Encourage Independence

When your son sits down to do his work, encourage him to do as much of it as he can on his own. Jerome Schultz, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist from Harvard Medical School and the author of "Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It," says that when a teen is complaining his work is too hard, "a parent should say, 'Pick three to five of these that you think you may need my help with.'" Encourage him to try and do the rest on his own so he can learn how to teach himself important concepts and tolerate frustration.

Work as a Team

Homework works best when teachers and parents work together with the student. Williams says, "I've seen the biggest improvements in student performance when both parents take an active role in checking and helping with homework. That usually means that fathers have to get involved and look at the specific questions students are asked to answer."

Schultz recommends that parents get the teachers involved. He says, "If it's always a toxic after-school experience that ends in fighting and tears, have the teacher work with your son to reward his ability to work with you without fighting. This can earn points, just like homework can -- and go a long way to promoting peace at home."

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Look at Long-Term Goals

Helping your son recognize how homework will be helpful to his future may motivate him to get his work done. If his plan is to go to college, talk about what skills he will need to be successful. Fuel his excitement about college by taking him on campus tours. Provide him with opportunities to talk with college admissions personnel to discuss what they look for in students when they review admissions applications. If your child's goal is to enter into the working world or the military, help him to learn more about how his success in school can be helpful to his future employment.

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