Teen parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman on how to help your student decide how best to complete his collaborative assignment for class.

By Rosalind Wiseman

Q. I hate group projects! My fifth-grader was assigned one but says the other two boys fool around during class and aren't doing their share. How can we handle this?

A. This is a great opportunity to teach a social competence lesson—which your son will probably hate. If you're convinced the other two kids really aren't doing their part, then you need to help him prepare how and when he articulates the lay of the land (as my mom always said). These are his options: He can say nothing, do all the work, and let them get the grade he alone deserves. This will inevitably leave him resentful toward them and irritated at himself. Or, he can confront the slackers about what he doesn't like and what he wants to change, while there's still time for them to redeem themselves. If things don't improve, then he can go to the teacher and explain what's going on. Just make sure he doesn't wait until the project is over because the teacher can't do much after the fact.

Originally published in the October 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine.