I want to use the weekly ticket system, or throwing the child out of the garden, to discipline my 12-year-old son (6th grade). The problem lies in that much of the homework now is given via computer at his school, but he will sneak onto YouTube, etc., if we're not closely watching him. Additionally, he is getting into a lot of trouble at school by talking back to his teachers, acting up in class, and not doing his homework. He used to be very well behaved in class.
How do I balance discipline and the need for access to a computer for homework, especially if we want to kick him "out of the garden", so to speak?
Hello, and thank you for your question. Technology is indeed a mixed blessing and is proving to be a whole new and formidable challenge for parents and others who love and care for children. Since this is a school issue, I recommend saving the tickets and garden kick for when you are working on behaviors that generally show up at home.
You can't control how his school uses technology without getting vocal and involved, and even then not much is likely to change. Focus on what you CAN control. Tell your dear son that his access to the internet will now be confined to a public place in the home where you can see everything he's doing. (If you have to rearrange your home to accommodate this, then do it.) Remove all other screens from his life to the extent that you are able. Explain to him why he's clearly not mature enough to have private screen time. Let his teachers know that your son will not have access to a smartphone until he is able to legally sign a purchase and service contract for which he will be financially responsible. (If you must be able to reach him quickly, get a simple call and text only device that cannot do anything else.) Also let the teachers know that you will not tolerate his disrespect of them. To that end, you will implement the "Weekly Report Card" (WRC) that will determine the kind of weekend your boy does or does not enjoy. A simple half sheet for each teacher to check boxes and sign is all you need to send with him on the last day of the school week and won't take the teacher more than 1 minute to complete. Create a statement that reads "This week Boy Child was respectful and turned in all class and homework assignments on time and satisfactorily completed." Then make a little grid with boxes for each teacher to check "Yes" or "No" and a line for the teacher's signature. Your son has to take it to each teacher at the end of the period and get it completed before he leaves the classroom. If there is even one "No" box checked, he's on lockdown until the next report and the same applies. Conceivably, the lockdown could continue until the end of the semester, and that's his choice. Bedtime is one hour earlier, no entertainment in his room, no social activities, no extra curriculars, no TV or video games, no nothing. Books, schoolwork, meals, bathroom duties, chores and that's it, unless there's an event he absolutely must attend. If the WRC doesn't make it home, assume there was at least one "No" and proceed accordingly. Do not bother the teachers about it. By the way, all of this is straight from Chapter 4 of Rosemond's book "Fail Safe Formula for Helping Your Child Succeed in School" which I hope you have and is available on this site if you don't. I used the WRC with one of our children years ago and can attest to its efficacy!
He may get his act together before 7th grade begins if you follow this advice diligently. This is his problem to solve. Set him up to want to solve it.
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