Dear Dr. G.,
I am embarrassed to be writing to you because I am a psychiatrist but hey we all have problems,right? Last year, toward the end of her sophomore year in high school, my teen daughter would not want to go to school if her homework wasn't completed. I wasn't sure what to do and not wanting to increase her stress level I sometimes let her stay home. I really never quite understood what was going on and why she wasn't getting her work done. She has always been such a good student. She did manage to pull things together by the end of the year and did well on finals and got good grades. Nonetheless, I am afraid of a repeat performance this year. I do not want to have my daughter be frustrated and upset to the point that she doesn't want to go to school.
I tried to find out why she wasn't getting her homework done but really wasn't able to nail things down. Any suggestions or thoughts,Dr. G.?
A Psychiatrist & A Mother
First,let me say that as mental health professionals we are not immune to having problems and dilemmas in our own lives. People often think that we are mind readers but we are not,right? And when things get emotional in our homes we are mothers first and mental health professionals later. So, you are in good and plentiful company among mental health professionals who have all kinds of struggles in their lives and with their teens.
To answer your specific question – I must say that I have been hearing about more and more teens who are missing school because their homework is not done.When I have sorted things out with these teens – it appears that they are spending lots of time chatting with their friends,tweeting, and on Facebook while simultaneously attempting to do homework. We all know that these attempts at multitasking are inefficient and prolong the amount of time needed to get homework done.
I am not sure exactly what is going on in your daughter's case but I suggest that you talk to her about this possibility. If this is the problem then I would suggest giving her a specific time that she needs to be off the computer. If she has a time limit then she may be inclined to use her time more efficiently. You can also have her charge her cellphone in a different room while she is doing homework so that she can avoid temptation. I strongly encourage you to have your daughter go to school whether or not her homework is done so that she experiences the natural consequences of not managing her time well.
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