"The child who is disciplined as well as he or she is loved is a happy, healthy child. "

12 yo homeschooled son, incomplete work

Question

(This question is for Janet.)
I am homeschooling my 12 year old son. He has been staying in his room a lot recently because he didn't pass my inspection on his chores and school work on time. He has a problem of cutting corners, so I was trying to focus on it and fix it without nagging him. I just send him to his room the rest of the day when he fails inspection.
I removed everything in his room so that his room would be boring. But I found he was hiding many books in closet under his clothes and he was reading and drawing there. (He loves reading.)
I sent him to his room for a week for deceiving me.
Today was the second day, and I found him sneaking out of him room while I was doing computer. I said, "You were out of your room. You'll stay in your room longer for that." After that, when I served him dinner (he eats in his room), his room smelled like citrus. He confessed he sneaked out again and ate a grapefruit in his room.
What should I do? Where did I go wrong?

Answer

As for being in his room, be sure the room is clear before you put him in there and then put a lock on the outside of the door, if you wish to continue on this path. I would suggest another plan, however, given that he is 12 years old.

You will soon be moving out of the Decade of Discipline, and while I understand your desire that he do his best, I do not think that cutting corners is the same thing as direct disobedience. I would also suspect that there are many parents of 12 year olds who dearly wish that what their son was hiding was books for reading, drawing materials and citrus! Yes, he was deceptive, but I don't hear anything in your question that suggests that this is a child out of control. I would offer a different approach, lest you inspire outright rebellion.

When you give him his chores, give him a deadline, at which time you will come back and see if they are done correctly, with no cut corners. Tell him that if he does not complete the tasks satisfactorily, then he will have to do them all over again, and will continue to do them again until he does them correctly. Bottom line, do them right the first time and he will save himself and you a lot of time and trouble.

When you give him his assignments, again, set a time limit, and tell him you will come back at that time to see that they are completed correctly. If they are, the rest of the day is his to read and draw. If they are not, like the chores, they will all need to be done again, with additional "enrichment" assignments added on. Again, do them correctly without cutting corners and the rest of the day is his.

In your effort to encourage your son's best efforts, I do not want you to inadvertently encourage the worst in him. He is moving towards adolescence, and a time in his life when he will have to learn life's consequences via his own poor choices. You will not be able to control his choices, but you can control how you relate with him. I hear nothing in your question to suggest outright defiance or disrespect and I don't want you to do anything unnecessarily punitive that would push him in that direction.

I homeschooled one daughter and three sons. My daughter did not attend a formal classroom setting until college. After middle school I sent my sons to "regular" school because I felt they needed the presence and influence of men. I am not suggesting that you stop homeschooling, but I would suggest that you be sure that your son is involved in activities that keep him under the guidance, mentoring of men (that you trust!).

Janet Carter
janet@ourchildishways.com
ourchildishways.com
parentcoachatlanta.com

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