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Why Kids Cheat?

Why Kids Cheat?

The Mothers' Guide

When you find out your child has cheated, you need to immediately begin to figure out why she did it. Here are some possibilities:

1. She doesn't understand it's wrong. Some kids cheat simply because they really don't understand why it's such a bad thing. They studied their spelling words and just can't remember how to spell one of them, so they take a quick peek at their neighbor's work. What's the harm? they wonder.

2. He taking the easy way out. The child knows he has a test tomorrow, but the TV is on one situation comedy after the other. The evening slips away, then the child thinks, "Oh well, I didn't really study, but I'll probably do okay anyway. " Once the test gets under way, it's harder than the child thought. He can't resist the temptation to copy his neighbor's multiple-choice answers.

3. She doesn't know how to study. Many children simply haven't acquired enough academic discipline to know how to really study and prepare for a test, so they cheat not realizing that by cheating they find themselves in a negative downward spiral; the more they cheat the more they may need to cheat, because in subjects like math, where one skill builds on another, they just get more and more behind.

4. The work is too difficult. For some kids, the academic concept they're trying to learn is simply too difficult for them. It seems all the other kids grasp the information easily, and the child becomes too embarrassed to ask for help so resorts to cheating.

5. There's pressure to achieve from parents. Parents of kids who get the message that performance and ability are more important than improvement and mastery need to ask themselves, " Am I expecting so much from my child that she may turn to cheating?" If parents fear this might be the case, they need to backtrack and explain about the importance of doing good work without misrepresenting one's abilities by cheating.

6. There's pressure to perform for teachers. Some children today may feel pressure to perform beyond their ability in order to reflect well on the teacher and school and so may even cheat on standardized tests. When teachers feel pressured to get their students to demonstrate what they're teaching, children may lose confidence to simply do the job they can and sneak a peek at the answers of a neighbor who they believe is smarter, defeating the purpose of learning and the educational process.

7. Reprimand your child. Try saying, "I don't like it. I understand the temptation to copy your friend's work, but we've discussed the importance of honesty and doing your own work in school. I'm disappointed in what you've done. I don't cheat in my life, and I don't expect you to cheat, either."

8. Help her make up for what she did. If she has been cheating by daily copying math homework, help her make up for it by overseeing her as she completes those assignments she copied. Realize she may need help from you or a tutor in order to get caught up. If she cheated on a test, see if the teacher will give it to her again after she's had time to adequately prepare.

9. Don't withdraw privileges. This probably won't accomplish anything. It's better to try and understand why she cheated. Was she just taking the easy way out, or is the work too difficult? Maybe she isn't understanding the concepts that all the other kids seem to grasp easily. Is she under a lot of pressure to achieve?

10. Tell your child you're on his side. If your child habitually cheating to succeed, shaming your child, conveying that what he's done is catastrophic and unforgivable, only works against the goal of being forthright and honest with regards to academic achievement. Instead explain to him, "Your repeated tendency to cheat in school is a problem. It must be remedied. You and I will face this problem together. It's better to take easier courses in school than to engage in a life of cheating to survive."

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