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Twelve-Year-Old Hates School

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My 12-year-old daughter hates school. She doesn't like to do her homework, although she does most of it, but very sloppily. She won't study for a test, and wants someone else to do her research. I want her to succeed and pass to the next grade, but she couldn't care less. What can I do?

A: It's obvious that your daughter cares less than you do about her success in school, and until she cares there really isn't any way for you to change her. But, there are actions that you can take to change how you feel and react to her. My guess is that she realizes that you will step in and save her by doing her research for her -- you do the work and your daughter gets the grade. While she is learning that she can evade responsibility, she is not experiencing the satisfaction of having earned her grade.

I encourage you to take some time by yourself and/or with your partner and answer these questions: Why do I want her to succeed so badly? Is it for her or for me? Ask yourself: How did I learn how to succeed? Did I have to do my own work?

Lastly, but most importantly, what is the worst thing that could happen if she fails seventh grade? What are the consequences? Summer school? Repeating seventh grade? By failing seventh grade - and either going to summer school or repeating -- your daughter can learn that she is responsible for the choices she makes about her studies.

Talk with the school counselor about parenting skills classes. There are also some excellent books at your local library that cover topics like study skills and helping children accept responsibilities.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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