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#AskAlyson: Online Focus & Self Motivation

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Hi Alyson

My daughter is in grade 8 and doing on-line learning this year.  Her marks are okay, but I feel she could be doing better if she paid more attention to the teacher during the lesson.  She has her phone with her and she texts her friends during class time.  I threatened to take her phone away, but when I do, she absolutely losses it on me and then she seeks some form of revenge.  Recently she hid the power cord to my laptop that I needed for work and wouldn’t return it until I gave the phone back! Help! I need another solution.





Dear Anonymous,


I have a few ideas that could be of help for you in this situation.  One is to ask your daughter about her own personal goals for the grades she would be happy with this term.  It may be true that she could do better – but she is likely only going to be motivated to get the marks she personally feels are desirable.  That mark may be lower than you would like, and you could assure her that she could get any mark she puts her mind to.  If she is happy with a 78 but could get an 85 – remind her that is the choice she is making.   Remind yourself that it is only grade 8 and these are unusual circumstances.  There are lots of years of schooling ahead of her still.  Her academic career is not going to be fated by how she struggled through the pandemic.


Secondly, if her goal is to pull up her socks a bit and go for an 80, ask how you might be of support around that goal, including better focus during instruction time but explore other ideas too.  She should feel like you are an ally to her as she reaches for goals, not that you are the enemy and the goals are your own.  Ask if it would be helpful to create some more structures that would help her meet her goals, like docking the phone during instruction time and checking in with friends just during class breaks.  You could also ask her to empathize with the teacher who is trying her best to engage the class, and how much more difficult that is when the class is not looking or listening and how that must feel for a teacher.  Imagine you had to present in front of the class and no one cared or payed attention?  That would feel dismissive and disrespectful.


With any tech device, you are more likely to win your teens co-operation if you discuss responsible tech use and digital etiquette in a time of calm and create reasonable agreements that you can write up together.


And lastly, work on building up good will in the relationship.  These times are calling for all of us to work our best to keep positive family bonds.  The more harmonious the relationship, the greater likelihood of her not feeling the need to revenge, and to go along more easily with reasonable family rules.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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