Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I have a 16 year old son who doesn't make an effort with his studies

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Comment: Thanks so much for your very prompt reply. However, whats there to listen to if he doesn't tell me anything?

Questioner: Mary H.

Subject: 16 year old son who doesn't make an effort with his studies

Question: My sixteen year old son is an only child. Ever since he started school his his teachers have all said he is lazy. His last few months of school were particularly bad. He didn't bother to learn for tests and on one occasion he actually skipped school. The punishment for this was exclusion from the school trip.

Over the years my husband and I have really tried to motivate our son, praising good test results, offering rewards if he got good test results. He manages to get average results with the minimum of effort so his attitude is why should he bother to make any extra effort.


He has now started an apprenticeship which combines school with work and we have discovered that he has has tests in which, according to him, he has gained average results. However doesn't tell us when there are tests at school so we never know when he should be revising for the test rather than playing with the PlayStation/computer. I have discovered that his last test was particularly bad and unfortunately for him this means that it lowers the average of all his previous endeavours.

Whilst we understand that he will never fully change I would like to know how I can get through to him the importance of good grades.

When I try to talk to him about it I never get the feeling that he is really listening and as a consequence I do tend to go on and on until he finally snaps and he tells me he has heard enough and he then walks away and I am then left feeling that it was all a waste of time.

I know that I am not a perfect parent and my son is not perfect either. But I would like to know how to at least deal with this situation without it damaging his future school and consequently his work prospects.

Teenage hormones mixed with menopausal hormones are a lethal cocktail and can combust without warning. On the whole my son is loving and kind and people tell me that his is a lovely boy to be around and that I should be proud that he has turned out as he has.

Any advice?

Dear Mary:

Just off the top of my head it sounds like you are doing the talking and expecting him to listen. The best approach to teens is to do more listening. Listen, listen and listen some more.

He won't just open up at first. You will need to do some activities (ones he likes to do) and then listen and practice listening some more. No judgements, no lectures and no advice. Just old fashioned listening will strengthen the relationship. I think his studies will improve if he chooses to make them improve.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller