Mom-to-Mom Support/I’m frustrated that my 5 boys are not minding me

I’m frustrated that my 5 boys are not minding me

Son doesn't listen to mother discussing schoolwork


I have a hard time knowing what to say to get my five boys to do their school work with me, or for them to sit down and get busy on it. I’m frustrated with this. How can I communicate to my boys so they will listen to me, without talking out of frustration and not knowing what to say to them?

Dear Parent,

That is a frustrating situation. But it’s not an impossible situation.

Here is one option that should help them take responsibility for their behavior. Even the five and six-year-olds can begin to take some responsibility. You may have to prompt them more frequently.

Tell them what your expectations are regarding their behavior. Be sure that you explain the expectations clearly and what you mean. The younger boys especially need concrete examples. If you have a set schedule, then tell them that they need to be ready to begin school at the set time. Describe what being ready means. Their idea of being ready may not include sitting down and having their books and papers in front of them. If you don’t have a set schedule, then they need time to meet your expectations. You would say, “In five minutes, we will begin school, so be ready in five minutes at the table or desk and ready to go.” I would have them write down these expectations. And then remind them every day for two weeks. Perhaps they can read the expectations aloud. Once the expectations are written down, you don’t have to worry about what to say to them. You can simply ask them which expectation are they not meeting? After the first week, the consequences begin.

Have your boys come up with consequences. What happens if they aren’t ready? There should be a concrete result if they have misplaced their books or if they aren’t sitting down and ready to go. Succeeding at this daily procedure relies to some extent on their choice of the consequences. You may have to increase or decrease the consequences if you decide these are too harsh or too lenient. For example, what if they aren’t sitting down when you are ready to begin? Perhaps they lose thirty minutes of computer or video time. Perhaps they will take on an extra chore. Perhaps they will write a letter of apology to you for not being ready to go. You want the consequences to fit the situation appropriately, and you don’t want the consequences to be burdensome to you. And you must be consistent in enforcing the consequences.

And what is the incentive for meeting the expectations day by day? If they meet the expectations every day for a week, perhaps they can make their favorite dessert or do whatever really appeals to them. Staying up later than usual? Going to the park on Saturday? The incentives and consequences need to relate to your unique family life and may differ from child to child.

This is good practice for your boys to be ready for their job and life responsibilities. Their supervisors, or customers if they are entrepreneurs, and their spouses and children will have certain expectations, and there will be consequences if they are irresponsible. God expects us to grow in spiritual maturity, and we certainly must face eternal consequences for our behavior.

God Bless You and Your Boys,
Sandra Garant

About Sandra Garant

Sandra Garant is a veteran homeschooling mom, certified teacher, writer, attorney, and administrative law judge. She taught her three children at home until they were ready for college. She tutored students in writing for many years and is the author of Language of God, Level F and Language of God, Level G.