When They "Refuse" to Do Anything

My daughter wants to watch tv and play on her tablet. I tell her she can do that when she completes X amount of lessons that day.  She doesn't manage to complete the lessons, it gets too late, she goes to bed and now the next day she is behind and instead of realizing she didn't get to do her activity she equates it to failure and then refuses to do anything the next day?  What do I do?

There are a couple of words that stand out to me while reading this question: "manage" and "realizing" and "refuses".  My first response would be that this is one very smart girl.  She would like to convince you that she can't 'manage' to get all her work done in a day.  She didn't 'realize' that she would be so far behind.  She now 'refuses' to do anything the next day.  

She has total and complete control of the situation.  As long as she is firm in her belief that you will be upset/worried/annoyed/willing to remind her throughout the next day, she's got everything under control.  You are now living at the bottom of the funnel with her.  Her options have been squeezed in and so have yours.  She may not be happy.  She may show frustration but this is the dance she knows. 

My daughter and I knew this dance very well.  This is how we started to slowly change the steps 

1)  I knew that she could manage the amount of work that was given to her each day.  I set my expectations for her work by saying things like:  

"I expect X number of lessons done each day.  Thank you for understanding.  Some kids choose to do nothing all day.  That might not work out well in our house, but you can sure give it a try."  

Leave that statement there to hang.  Every child needs to wonder and ponder just what "that might not work out well" means.  Go on about your work.  
Let. her. sit.  
You're now about to see just how smart this girl is.  She may sit for days.  Weeks.  But she goes nowhere, does nothing.  I continue to love her, feed her, give her hugs, do my job and then go about my wonderful life.   
"In our house education is important and doing your job is paramount to the quality of your life.  Some kids choose to live really sad lives.  I hope that's not you, honey. We love being with you!"   

2) She does "realize" what you're doing.  But she may enjoy pushing the button on your chest that says, "I try to be fair.  I told you what was going to happen. You should listen to me" etc. etc. Hold firm to the knowledge that she knows what it takes to get her work done. Hold firm to the expectation that completed work = life well lived.   

3)  I always considered us in 'training mode'.  During training mode, each day is a new day with lots of possibilities.  So for this chronic problem, Today i need x number of lessons done and then feel free to _________________"  we can practice a lot!  If they are behind because they didn't do their 3 lessons yesterday, so be it.  Get them in the habit of succeeding first.  New day = 3 lessons=tv/tablet time.  Once you can measure just what she is capable of then you have a heart to heart outside of schooling time.  Start with lots of questions:   So what percentage of completion are you on? How are you doing with x number of lessons each week?  Is that getting you to where you need to be by the week/month's end?  What happens if you aren't as far as the school needs you to be?  Lots of questions, that you obviously have the answers to but she needs to hear the answers come out of her mouth, not yours.  Then come up w/ new expectations and solutions together.   

4)  Refusing to do work is her way of testing to see if you mean what you say and if you'll do what you say you'll do.  It takes kids who are motivated by control (which is not a horrible thing) a little longer to figure this out.  You'll up the odds for success if your expectations and requests are done with low pizzazz and lots of happy emotion. 

6 Ways to Start Your School Year

Each one of these, 6, correlates to a session that we teach with K12. 
 You can also find these posts to expand on the ideas. 
6:  Focus on Effort

To Question or Not to Question....

.....THAT is the question. 
Why work on questioning skills when 
it's just easier to tell your kids what to do??
The answer is:  Adults that are effective  
with young people ask a lot of questions.  
It's effective because the adult is asking the child 
the questions that the child should be asking themselves

Children should be asking themselves, 
"Do I want to work on math or Language Arts first?" 
 So, as the Learning Coach we're left to just 
tell them what to do or start to 
train them to think for themselves. 
Take a look at the list to give you ideas 
on how you might start to create an independent thinker.

Grab your books for the car.
Are you carrying your books with or without a book bag?
Start on math!
Do you want to start with LA or Math?
No, you can’t skip history today.
What do you think will happen if you skip history today?
We need to keep up.
When do you think you can be caught up?
No, you can’t go to the movie until you’re done.
What time is the show?  Do you think you’ll have your work done in time?
Let’s get started.
Do you want to use pencil or pen?
You need to do 3 lessons today.
How many lessons do you think you can finish today?
Don’t do it that way.
Do you think that will work?  I don’t think it would work for me.  Let me know how it goes.



Practice makes perfect? You decide.

It was one of the last evenings of summer. 
We had a lot of extended family staying with us for the weekend 
so we thought it would be a perfect time to play 
Capture the Flag.  
Teams were divided and the game began!

There came a point when tempers were flaring 
and "That's not fair!!" was the cry from both teams.  
As one of the adults playing, I'd like to think 
that I was above the petty tantrums 
that were taking place.....but 
I started to get annoyed and heated as well.  
 The game came to a swift end 
with players on both sides quitting and walking away.  
We all just headed to bed.  
I certainly didn't feel good about how things went down. 
 The next morning you could tell that 
cousins weren't as trusting as before.  
Some still had hurt feelings.  
As we finished dinner and the group was wondering 
what to do for the evening, 
I piped up and said, 
"Let's play Capture the Flag!"  
They thought I was joking but I wasn't.  
I knew we could keep working at this 
and figure out how to play a fun game 
without breaking into hurt feelings and tantrums.  
Several of the adults gave me a 
look that said, "Are you crazy??"
 Maybe I was.  
But I believe in Practicing

Practicing and repetition help people perform at higher levels. 
 And don't we want our students performing at higher levels??  Yes!! 

So take a look at some of your problem areas.  
Identify them and then create procedures around them.  

Practice those procedures for as long 
as it takes until it becomes a routine
The great thing about kids not following through on their schoolwork.....or getting a late start.....is,  
it's a chronic problem.  
And we love chronic problems because 
it give us something to work hard at and 

Don't be discouraged when you have to re-teach 
how you want math assignments completed, 
just practice the procedure again. 
Stay calm and know that this is 
a great life lesson for them.  
If we take the time to practice these little things, 
they can become a great boost 
to the effectiveness of our day!

For the record.....when we played Capture the Flag 
the second evening...it wasn't perfect 
but it was CONSIDERABLY  better 
and more fun than the first time! 
We realized that we had to be very clear 
with rules to start off and make sure that 
everyone was on board.  
We look forward to playing it again 
instead of NEVER playing it again! 

Procedures lead to Routines which lead to Successful Days!

Anytime you visit the airport 
you are going to be put through a series of procedures.  These procedures help security and airlines
 keep everyone safe.  I've now been to the airport so many times that it's become a routine.  
I know what shoes to wear. 
I know what I need to do with my electronic devices.  
I even know how to use my seat as a flotation device!

We've been helping families school at home 
for over 8 years now. 
In our experience,
 the number one problem schooling at home,
is not discipline;  
it is the lack of procedures and routines.

Just like the airlines have their set of procedures, 
so should your school room.
I believe in starting the day out strong!
Let's take a look at a couple of places to start:
  • Waking up
What does that look like at your house?  Do you wake them up?  Do they have alarm clocks?  Are beds made?  Do they dress before breakfast? 
Once you know what your expectations are, 
then you make it a procedure, 
then  you practice it.   

So for example:  
 Tonight, at 8pm, call the kids into their bedrooms, have them get under the covers and tell them we’re going to practice waking up in the morning.  Then show them what you want it to look like.  For example:  “When mom wakes you up, make your bed, get dressed, visit the bathroom, and meet us in the dining room.”  Have fun with it and do it 3 or 4 times.  That’s a ‘getting up procedure’.  Practice it for however many mornings it takes until it becomes a routine.
  • Breakfast
What does that look like at your house?  Does everyone eat together?  Are they on their own for cold cereal? What time is breakfast served?   

Breakfast time is very casual at our house and you’re pretty much on your own.  So I’ve just set the procedure:  Breakfast time is from 7- 7:30.  Get what you need to hold yourself till lunch.  If you miss the breakfast hour at our house, You might be hungry until lunch.

  • School Work to be Corrected
 Dad corrects the math work at our house.  So we walked through how he wanted to see her assignments done.  
He wanted to see the Unit number and lesson number (1.2) along with page number.  That way he could quickly see where she was at and not even have to bother her later in the evening unless he needed to clarify or reteach a concept.
This made everyone happier in the evening.

 Nothing replaces practice and repetition when we want things to become automatic.  If you help your kids practice the routines you need to run school smoothly they actually become more confident and willing to do the things you ask.
If we don’t have procedures in place to practice and establish the way we need things done then everything becomes a discipline issue because it can feel like they are deliberately undermining their own learning.  We find ourselves out of our job description, because we begin to
 nag, plead, and beg our kids to do their work.
If you’re spending most of your time nagging, pleading, begging, you’re just a zookeeper….not a learning coach.

Procedures are not rules to broken.
Procedures are steps to be learned.  

There will still be days when it seems like you're just trying to keep your head above water.....On those days remember: you can use your seat as a flotation device.

2 Keys to Becoming an Effective Learning Coach

Webster defines Effective as
adequate to accomplish a purpose

What if  I don't feel adequate?
Another definition of effective 
that I do feel like I can pull off is,
prepared and available for service

I can do that. 
But I need 2 things in place before 
I can be prepared and available for service. 

Schooling at home is not easy. 
But we persevere even when our student/child balks at a request, a procedure, a choice.  We persevere when a son doesn't 'want' to do this anymore. 
If you believe that your student has the ability to learn, 
you can stay the course!

Do your job ~ Be Effective
Be prepared and available for service.


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