Difficulty With Teen? – Q&A May-June 2010

HEM’s Questions & Answers – May-June 2010

“Our oldest daughter is stubborn and acts lazy even though she’s smart. She’s the reason we got into homeschooling in the first place after a lot of difficulty in school. And it was much better for awhile but now that she’s close to 13 she’s worse than ever. She wants to sleep half the day, ignore her coursework and give a million rationalizations why everything should go her way. My husband has started saying she’s a bad influence on her sisters. I need help!” – Jessica, Allysa and Devon’s Mom

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6 Responses to Difficulty With Teen? – Q&A May-June 2010

  1. Lillie on February 7, 2010 at 2:26 am

    yeah that’s how my sister and i got when we were home schooled . really i think we just started getting lazy and had not – good peer pressure – from other kids our age . my parents put us back in regular school for a year and it kick started us back into a routine.
    not that regular school is better, but i think maybe getting into a good home school study group might help some .

  2. greg on February 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm


    You could implement some choices. It is the Love and Logic approach (http://www.loveandlogic.com/podcasts.aspx). Give her choices with options or consequences you are willing to deal with.

    eg. you can chose to do your studies for 1 hour or clean the house.

    or simple choices: you can do math for 30 minutes or reading for 30 minutes.

    if school is an option you could always give that as a possible choice. I suppose it is easier said than done.

    sounds like a tough kid, but it also looks like you guys are willing to put in the work so you will find a solution. :)

    don’t give up

  3. writeon on February 17, 2010 at 11:55 am

    One word, consequences. It works for us.

  4. Sarah on February 20, 2010 at 2:33 am

    First, and I know how hard this will be, but you need to stop focusing on the negative aspects of your daughter, and find the good in what she is doing. She had enough negative feedback in school, especially if she was labeled “smart, but lazy.” Perhaps she was bored out of her mind! That would make many of us stubborn and lazy.

    Plan activities that may interest her, and schedule them for the afternoon. Is she interested in drawing? Go to a museum? Does she love watching airplanes? Go to the airport (many have museums and libraries) or an aeronautical museum. Is she all about horses? Then go to local stables, horse veterinarians, blacksmiths.

    Keep in mind that your smart daughter has not been adequately challenged for the last seven years of her life. What would that do to you? It is now your job to explore the world with her, open new doors, and let her see all that’s there for the asking.

    And always let her know how much you love her and how happy you are she is your daughter.

  5. Lori on February 20, 2010 at 8:56 am

    She’s still a kid, although one that is nearing adulthood. She needs to be pointed in the right direction.

    Sleeping like that can be a sign of so many things, from boredom to depression to illness to simply having a growing body. Teens need sleep more than adults, more than little kids, medical fact. But a trip to the doctor anyway might not be a bad idea to at least rule out a lot of stuff.

    If your state does not demand rigorous portfolios from homeschoolers, then maybe she needs a break from all but the basic necessities of homeschool for a month or two. In our house, the basics are some sort of math for an hour and reading something other than StarTrek (classics) for a half hour. Too often as parents we add too much in our quest to make sure our children are prepared for the future. Homeschool is not just school at home. There’s a flexibility we have that schools do not. Don’t worry, there’s still time for her to study for her college boards. 😉

    What does she like to do? Can she go do it during the day? There are all sorts of volunteer organizations who would LOVE the assistance of a young intern during the day. You can cull homeschool hours out of this by talking about it every day over the supper table, and writing it out in journals. You will find a decent internship can contain such subjects as English (writing reports), Math (helping with spreadsheets), Technology, Government (working on a local election), Science (helping at the local Humane Society), and of course Life Skills.

    Let her make her own syllabi with your help. This worked well with my eldest daughter, who made it through college and the military. Get a common objective together, then pick out the necessary materials she will need to complete the course. Don’t make it longer than 2 months, at first. Determine what sort of proof you want as evidence she has researched and learned, such as a report, a portfolio, PowerPoint, video, etc. Some of our mini-courses were Celtic Myth Studies, Survey of Mexican Tourism, Food Stamps and the Family Budget (how Food Stamps worked and how different families could use the assistance to their best advantage or not), and the Virtual Office (This was a new concept in 1993).

    As for your husband’s remarks- She is different from her younger sisters. She is older, for one thing. It all fine to expect her to be an example, but check to make sure you’re not treating her as one of the “girls” while placing her on this pedestal. If you’re not giving her the privileges of her age and capability as well as expecting the responsibility, your husband and you need to be ready for some sort of resentment. Maybe that resentment is taking itself out in sleeping and laziness. Perhaps she needs a contract of responsibilities and privileges, signed by the three of you. What she does NOT need is a wall chart with stickers!

    I can’t peer into your household. This is just advice, and you can take it or leave it. But I hope it helps you think of some other possibilities for what appears to be a stressful situation for you.

  6. Jason on February 20, 2010 at 11:51 am

    I’m with Lori on this one – we parents need to learn more flexibility as our kids go through adolescence. So much is changing for them (from chemicals in their brains needing more sleep, to the natural desire to try out doing things differently from mom & dad).

    The key thing is to recognise this is a new phase. She’s not a kid any more! To be honest I’ve never been a fan of behaviouralism (consequencies, rewards, punishments etc) – it feels to me like that breeds compliance rather than heartfelt understanding. But certainly with teens it won’t work – they’ll push till they bend any boundary.

    So…my approach would be relax for a few weeks, and then have an adult/adult conversation along the lines of “how are we going to make sure you learn and develop whilst you’re learning at home?” and work things out together.

    You have so much going for you – you’re obviously a hugely “engaged” mum, you’ve got a smart daughter and your husband’s interested in working this through too. Don’t push yourself too hard to sort this in a few days and I bet in a few months it’ll be going great!