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How to Handle Child's Lies About Homework

Question:

My tween lied to my husband and me about completing his homework every night this week. His grades are falling and I don’t know how to help him.

Answer:

When children lie, they damage the trust their parents have in them. It’s a serious problem and parents don’t want it to continue. Since you can no longer trust your child when he says his homework is done, we recommend that his study and homework time be altered to include checks and balances and that you start monitoring his schoolwork more closely.

First, establish daily contact with your child’s teacher regarding homework expectations and classroom behavior. Ask if your child’s school posts homework assignments online so you can check your child’s assignment book and progress. Make sure his assignment book is accurate and up-to-date. Ask his teacher to initial assignments when they are completed so you can trust the book’s accuracy.

Second, tell your child that it is his responsibility to complete his homework assignments on time. Help him succeed by designating a specific place (the kitchen table works well) and time for him to do his homework. Whether he has assignments or not, have him sit in the homework area and work on academics. We suggest the kitchen table because he can ask a parent for help if he needs it and parents can make sure he is staying on task. Let your child know he can’t use privileges until schoolwork time is over or until he finishes ALL of his assignments.

Third, check his work until you see him routinely completing his homework and feel you can trust him again. If he is studying for a test, review the material with him to ensure he has been studying.

Fourth, if your child continues to ignore homework assignments, issue consequences that are meaningful to the child, immediate, about the right size and contingent on the behavior. Sometimes, as parents, we issue consequences based on our emotions and later realize they were too large. Think through consequences you want to use and wait until you are not upset to give them to your child. Be sure to praise him periodically as he completes assignments and when he finishes his homework.

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