The summer is over, and you begin to breathe a sigh of relief. This is the time of year when most of the shopping details have been handled, and the kids are almost ready for that first day of school. For some of you, your children may have already started school and you have high hopes for a solid and successful school year.

Don’t fall prey to false hope!

False hope is what happens when we fall asleep to the real building around us. Our children, perhaps, are constantly fighting us on homework. We see their grades during elementary years are just adequate, despite having more potential. Or perhaps, with older kids, we see their grades gradually getting worse, and their efforts dwindling.

False hope occurs when we ‘hope’ that the year will get better, yet there is no better plan in place. We have not developed a better method of teaching and managing the daily grind of homework and busy schedules, and we ‘hope’ that it will all work out.

Quite honestly, it often does not. When compared to other countries and cultures, we see that our children are performing more and more poorly. And yet there is no mystery here: The handwriting is on the wall when we see the quality of the habits our children have developed.

You can’t talk your kids into ‘realizing’ the importance of good study habits.

Too often we see children arguing for more independence, and less oversight. Without a good system of managing daily habits, we often find the arguments and constant management to be overwhelming! And it should be!

We really can’t be successful by “talking them into” the realization that good study habits will often form the foundation of good life habits. Poor performance in school time and again tends to predict poor results in life.

Likewise, however, you also can’t trust that life will just ‘give it to them.’ For most children and adolescents, you have to do more.

Don’t trust your bribes, or their promises, to get them to do better.

Over and over again, I see parents get frustrated when they make a ‘deal’ with their child who is struggling at school. They expect their son or daughter to honor the deal.

Yet, in the past such ‘promises’ were never honored; thus it makes no sense to believe that bigger promises today will yield bigger results tomorrow.

It doesn’t work that way.

Instead, you need a better plan. Not better bribes or better promises.

Here is the shortcut to my core principles that produce success. I have reviewed them in the past, but once again, they are worth repeating. If you follow these, your kids may not like you. But you will like the results.

“Prepare them for a change. Explain that there will be no more lectures or long discussions.”

“Promise them: I won’t nag or push you anymore…but,”

“Also promise them, there will be NO PLAY, until the work is done!”

This is a wonderful secret. We often make the mistake of setting up life so that the kids get to enjoy all the goodies (i.e., toys, TV, computer, phone, playing ball, friends, video games, etc) BEFORE they do homework and chores.

Instead, we never can surrender our leverage. In other words, you establish a single fundamental ground rule that does not change. They must finish their work… and ONLY then can they play. Once you have enforced this magical rule, you can now start to relax a bit.

If you have more questions about how to create the habits of success, you can learn all the details here:  Great School Habits