We have been struggling with our 12-year-old son, who is definitely an underachiever. He has been evaluated/tested recently and was not found to have any learning disabilities. His IQ tested in the gifted range.

Last year, it was a nightmare trying to get him to do his homework. The same thing is happening already this year. Punishment/rewards simply don't work. I could "wax" forever over the struggles we have had with him. Do you have any recommendations to help him? -- Defeated


Your first step should be to talk to him about what it is about homework that he doesn't want to do. He may say that he doesn't want to do what he already knows. In this case, both of you should talk to his teacher or teachers about making a deal to reduce the homework load provided he is succeeding on tests without this practice. Perhaps he could do only the odd or even exercises on an assignment. Another alternative is to have him be given more challenging assignments. This is easier now with so much content on the Internet and so many textbooks having lists of more challenging assignments.

On the other hand, if your son says homework is boring but he is not doing well on tests, ask what is holding him back on tests. He may say that he has trouble writing out the answers to test questions. In that case, he needs to be taught to organize his answers. Whatever he says is the problem, see that he gets help in this area.

High IQ scores are not always predictive of success in school. Many bright students need help in learning how to study or have areas of weakness that need to be worked on. Your son needs to learn the discipline of handling appropriate homework assignments. Look for the help that he needs now. Not establishing the homework habit could be very damaging to him in both high school and college.