Your child has reached the stage where she will no longer change her behavior just because you ask her to—or, if she does, the change may only be temporary.  Instead, you should act as a guide to motivate your child to change her own behavior.

Before your child can change, though, she will have to go through five steps. 

She must:

1. Realize there is a situation that needs to change.
2. Realize the situation affects her so she will want to change.
3. Work towards a solution. This may involve learning news skills.
4. Weigh the pros and cons of changing the behavior.
5. Make a final decision of whether or not to change.

Here’s how you can guide your child through each step:

1.    Make your child aware that you see a problem—she is getting poor grades in school, for example.

2.   Ask your child how she feels about the situation.  Does she realize that her grades will affect her future school success?  If she earns poor marks, she may not be eligible to participate in after-school sports, either.

3.   Brainstorm with your child.   Help her think of possible solutions She could add 30 minutes to her study time.  She could ask her teacher for extra help after school.

4.   Have her list the pros and cons of making the change.  Con:  If she adds more study time, she will have less time to hang out with her friends.  Pro:  If she earns better grades, she will have the opportunity to get involved in sports.

5.   Talk about her decision.  Ask your child what she has decided to do and offer your support to help her stick with her plans.

Source:  Kenneth R. Ginsburg & Martha M. Jablow, “But I’m Almost 13!”  An Action Plan For Raising a Responsible Adolescent, ISBN:  0-8092-9717-5 (Contemporary Books, a division of MCGraw-Hill, 1-877-833-5524, Reprinted with permission from © 2008The Parent Institute


You can’t do your preteen’s homework for her, but you can help her as she buckles down to do this:
  • Teach organization.  If your preteen can’t find her homework, she’ll have a tough time completing it.  Show her how to use folders or divider to organize each subject.  Give her a small notebook or calendar where she can record daily assignments.
  • Reinforce the basics.  It may be the Internet age, but preteen should still know how to use reference books.  Show her how to use thesauruses, atlases and encyclopedias at the library.  Ask a librarian for help if needed.
  • Use a checklist.  Each afternoon, run through a homework checklist with your preteen.  Ask:  What are today’s assignments?  Do you understand what you’re supposed to do?  Do you have a study plan?  Will you need any special supplies, such as a report cover?
  • Turn off the tube.  Don’t buy your preteen’s argument that TV is “just background noise.”  According to research, the amount of time kids spend in front of the TV directly relates to their school performance.  So keep homework time distraction free.
Source:  Anthony W. Jackson and P. Gayle Andrews, Making the Most of Middle School, ISBN:  0-8077-4476-X (Teachers College Press, 212-678-3929,  Reprinted with permission from ©2008, The Parent Institute,