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Changes in Behavior

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: Our ten-year-old daughter attends fifth grade in Catholic school. She does not complete assignments, forgets books in school, and lies about homework. I have taken away her television privileges during the week. The only activity she has is choir. Nothing seems to be working.

A: Is this the first year this has happened? Your daughter may be hitting that preadolescent stage when children may think they are supposed to act this way, or it may be a reaction to the others in her class, or to the teacher. Talk with the teacher to learn what he or she has observed at school. Get a small notebook for assignments that your daughter must carry back and forth. Ask the teacher to make sure that assignments are copied down each day (with the teacher's initials to verify) and that all books needed that night are in her book bag. Then you initial the notebook each night when assignments are done. Children need to see their parent and teacher working as a team.

Focus on the positive with your daughter. Let her know that when she has completed all of her homework listed in the notebook she may watch TV for 30 minutes (or whatever will work at your house). A week of completed homework can earn having a friend over to play on the weekend. Talk with the school counselor, who may be able to help with some positive support for your daughter at school.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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