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Parenting --Teens/Effort not perfection, how to get her to understand

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Hello.  My 11yr old daughter struggles in school and the main issue seems to be a lack of effort.  When she puts the time in she gets good grades and does well. (Usually this comes when she is grounded due to her grades dropping low, and she does good long enough (and by good i mean pulling As to bump her overall grade to meet a C) to get ungrounded..then its back to cs and ds on her hw and tests...so the whole school year is this rollar coaster.    She doesn't want to and doesn't care too do the woek, so often we see c and d or even fs.  If we try to make her slow down and check her work she has a melt down (I mean full on tears then pouting and not responding)...this turns homework that should take a half hour tops into hours of conflict that leaves all parties involved emotinally and mentally drained. This does mot happen in school, she just turns in work and accepts getting thre wrong answer.  I will give you an example.  She had a worksheet to read a about Galileo and the telescope.   It was one page long, and the flip side was questions.  She finished the paper in about 10 min and I checked it...she got more than half the answers wrong.  When we went over the paper it took 3 hours because of the battle that she put up.  Every answer was spelled out in the story (you could highlight the answer word for word and most questions were multiple choice, it was just a matter of matching the sentences)...but the idea of having to go back and check for the right answer in the story was to much.  Some of the key things I remember her saying "why do you want me to be perfect"..."other kids get their homework wrong too" .... "getting half right is better than if I didn't do my homework at all" ... "it doesn't matter if I get the right answers" ....I don't know how to get through that I'm not asking her to be perfect just to try.  She's failed open book tests for the same reason, if the question takes longer than a few seconds to answer she just guesses and she will not go back and read a passage more than once.  Not all her grades are bad.  PE, Music and spelling are all As.  I'm tired of this struggle. She is smart enough to keep from failing to far to be held back, but I don't know why she is ok with coasting through and trying to get her to improve is wearing me down.

Answer
Chris,

Thank for the question.  I appreciate the detail as well, it really helps in developing the correct response.  There are a couple things you can do to help the situation but I need to be up front about the situation, your daughter may not want to learn in the environment she is in and it may take a completely different educational setting in order to motivate her to learn on her own

Most individuals want to learn based on external criteria, money, or the hope of money in the future, peer pressure, wanting to be good at something etc...Then there are those who want to learn due to internal motivations like self interest, a desire to improve ones self regardless of what others think etc...I suspect your daughter is bored at school and needs more stimulus and I recommend that you attempt to discover her innate interests and then build upon those interests.  That is the long term solution and when those interests are discovered they almost always work in the favor of the student.

in the short term you may want to find what type of external motivation she responds to, things she likes, toys, games, clothes, money, free time, but you need to be careful in establishing this type of motivator, they are very transitory and fleeting and change often due to age, friends, opportunity and a thousand other unknown and unseen circumstances.  

It's best to start very small, giving her the desire to work at something for a nominal reward, like more TV time if she finishes her homework to your expectations, or the chance to buy new cloths if she turn in her homework for a week (completed and correct).  Do not make long term promises or large expectation of all A's for a trip to Disneyland unless you know for certain that she is willing and able to succeed.  success is the most important aspect of external motivation and every small step should be designed toward helping her to realize the importance of achievement by doing what is right at the right time.

There are many books that can help and I suggest you look for one that fits your needs and your daughters situation.  some will tell you to go through the tough love style of taking everything away I would be weary of those styles, not for your daughter from what I've read.

Good luck and I suspect she'll be just fine.  one more thing, F and D in high school only mean she will be unable to attend a four year university, she can always enroll in a community college even without a diploma, don't let your relationship be governed by these insignificant school events.

Richard  

Parenting --Teens

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Richard Taylor

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding parenting and child rearing.

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I am the father of Ten children and have been married for over 29 years. My wife and I have adopted two children and have successfully raised into adulthood four of our ten. We are Grandparents and have experience in that area as well.

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I have a Masters in Special Education, with over 15 years in education and over 29 years as a successful parent.

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