My sister is about 11 years old. She listens to everyone around her except her family. She believes that we don't care about her. Since my family was extremely busy with jobs, we did not focus on her much. I do agree that it is our fault to begin with.

However, we asked her to study maths today. She responded "no". We asked her politely and then started to use force. Regardless, her answer was "no". We have never been this violent to her. We told her she needs to get into a university. She said she doesn't care. We told her she would be a beggar. She said she is fine.

I realized we need another approach from being mean. She does not have any other hobby too. She just likes to sit at home and play laptop or read books. She cries when we ask her to go play outside. We can't make her do anything. Nothing seems to interest her except for a bit of literature. We want her to study maths during vacations so can have her foundations strong.

I am so helpless. Any ideas?

  • 5
    I'm glad you're asking here, because as you've seen, telling an 11-year-old that they're going to be a beggar for not doing homework, and resorting to force, are obviously not effective methods. You say "we", but how old are you in relation to your sister? Would she consider you an adult figure, or just an older sibling? What's your relationship with her like in general, outside of the homework situation. And, are you only asking how to get her to want to study maths, or do you want help being a more supportive sibling in general?
    – user11394
    Jul 29, 2015 at 3:57
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    Please keep comments for asking clarifying questions, not rhetorical ones. If you've got an answer, post it as an answer! If you disagree with the parenting approach being taken, either constructively propose a positive alternative or don't comment/answer.
    – Acire
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:23
  • How old are you? What do your parents say about it?
    – A E
    Jun 17, 2016 at 19:59

4 Answers 4


As a father of three children, my advice to you would be: unless there is an unusual situation involved and you are your sister's guardian, mind your own business. It is not your responsibility to make sure your sister does her homework. Not only is it not your responsibility, you getting involved is most likely counter-productive.

Also, you say she does not have a hobby, but then say she reads books and plays on her laptop, which are both hobbies. Reading is actually a very good hobby to have.

If you insist on getting involved, I would recommend something that integrates math with her interests. For example, www.khanacademy.org is a fantastic website for learning about math, as well as other subjects.


This is just an opinion based on your story as well as what is going on, but it might be helpful to spend some time with her doing something you're both comfortable with. Find something you all enjoy for a few hours and have fun. During said time, ask about how they feel about math etc. or what's going on in their life. Try and feel out where their head is. Being 11 is still quite young to be making life decisions about being a beggar or not. Doing something enjoyable together puts everyone on the same page and opens a discussion up in a non-judgmental and non-harsh environment.

Also, limiting computer time by finding an outside hobby, or family time, might help them not escape into alone time as it seems they enjoy doing. I can understand you're all busy, but an hour or 2 a week or every few days can make a big difference in their views of the family as a unit. If a process is followed and a routine is created, then at some point you may not have to ask them to come join you, they may seek out the family out of pure anticipation.

It sucks not having a close relationship with a family member, especially a close one, but it's a two way street. For said family member to want to expand out of their comfort bubble there has to be an effort to be made for an alternate environment they can and will want to go to.

Communication in this kind of environment is paramount. Ask questions in a non-threatening way and keep calm. Use that information to see what you can change or find a way to lead them in the future. But as stated before, 11 years old is not an age that justifies what they are and what they will be the rest of their lives.

  • Welcome to Parenting.SE! Thanks for a solid answer that suggests some good ways forward. Finding common interests can be a big boost for a positive sibling (or parent!) relationship.
    – Acire
    Jul 31, 2015 at 16:30

note: read entire post before jumping to an aggressive standpoint conclusion, this means well.

how is this arrogance? is it fair to label her as such because you're perplexed as to why she doesn't eagerly leap into mathematics?

from what you say, it sounds like she's on vacation. you're trying to force (your word, force) an 11 year old to study math on vacation.

is there any particular reason you can't let her read? is she doing poorly in math, or is she just not "the best in the class"?

I notice you say "play laptop". what does that mean, exactly, since a laptop isn't a toy, or game system. I've been accused of playing on my laptop or computer when i was diligently studying things that casual observers had no real concept of, which was very irksome (even though it did look like I was playing games, who said study has to be boring and dry?)

the reason i ask is she obviously enjoys reading, doesn't want to go outside (for now), and likes being on her laptop. why not introduce her to basic programming, which would definitely work on math and logic skills. it might not be the way you like (traditional math lessons), but you're probably going to have to compromise, or just cause a lot of resentment in both parties.

explain that programming can be used to tell the computer what to do, and perhaps show her some creative editing of existing web-pages to spark interest. if you disagree that programming is a good outcome for math studies, you might want to reconsider what you think math is.

i've no doubt she'll still be reluctant to even consider, but you can't give up right away. patience is necessary, and going from "do this." to "I SAID DO THIS", then being confused, is a really poor approach.

especially on a vacation. at least with basic programming you'll give the solid fundamentals you want.

good luck with this!


This sounds like a cry for love and attention to me. First, you admit that no one really pays attention to your sister or spends time with her. All kids need attention and love. And your sister isn't getting it from you and your family. Her resistance is a way she can get that attention, even if it is negative attention.

Second, you say she listens to others but not you or your family. Think about yourself for a minute. Let's put you in a made up situation (and that is all it is meant to be is a made up example situation). Say two people were trying to give you advice (and for the sake of argument we will say it is very good advice). Let's say one of them is someone you respect and love, who you have a strong relationship with and you know has your best interests at heart. And let's say the other is someone you see fairly often, but you don't have much interaction with. You feel like this person mostly ignores you. Who's advice do you listen to? For me, it wouldn't be the second person.

Third, you say she doesn't really have hobby outside of reading and doing something on a laptop. Is this really a problem? Some people just really enjoy reading. And that's not a bad thing. It might be different than what you like, but that doesn't make it bad. Before you can judge whether she "needs" a hobby, you need to spend time with her and see if she's really happy or something else.

Fourth, I know you are concerned that she isn't taking her studies seriously. I'm not sure where you live or what the culture is like, but eleven seems a bit young to be trying to think so far into the future. What you are trying to do may be helpful, but she's probably not at a point where thoughts of her life 15 years down the road mean much to her (that's farther down the road than the entire time she's been alive). She's probably saying she's ok with being a beggar, etc. because it's not important to her right now and she just wants you to leave her alone and stop "forcing" her to do math.

The big takeaway from this should be that before you can get her to care about what you have to say to her, she needs to have a better relationship with you. I know this is cliche, but it sums this up pretty nicely. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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