Q&A: My Child is Distracted at School and Not Doing Homework

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blockquote_bg I’ve been having some issues with my 8 year-old daughter. She’s having distraction problems in school and now is getting worse because she’s keeping things from us. She tells us that she’s done with her homework but then we realize that she didn’t finish everything. I’m very concerned and would like to get some help as I have talked to her multiple times and promised her many things but don’t see too many results.

Have you discussed this with your daughter’s teacher? If she is distracted at school or having trouble concentrating and is now lying about getting homework done, could it be the work is too hard for her and she is afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone? The first thing to do is find out why she is lying about homework being done and why she is not paying attention at school. Sometimes kids lie because they fear consequences or because they hope to avoid chores or responsibilities. Look into whether the expectations at home or in school are too high for her. If you speak with her teacher and you both feel that her inattentiveness in class could be related to attention deficit disorder rather than an inability to do the work, than you should speak to the school’s guidance counselor and get a referral to a child psychologist who can conduct testing to rule out ADD.

You said you have had several talks with your daughter that have done no good. The most important thing you can do is stay calm and let your daughter know how much you appreciate it when she does tell the truth. Be aware, too, that being caught in a lie or singled out for not paying attention can be extremely embarrassing for her, so take care to reassure her that you still love her even if she has done something you would rather she had not done. Because she is 8, if it is only the homework that she is not doing and lying about, then make it a point to have her do her homework each night at the table in front of you so you can be sure it is completely finished and assess for yourself whether the work is too hard for her.

You can make a reward chart or use a token jar for her at home as an incentive to complete homework. This link has many charts and ideas you can use or this link explains the use of a token jar for behavior.