If you have a shut-down learner style teen (especially a boy) you know the scene – not handing in homework consistently, not getting started on tasks, poor follow through, lots of video game playing or cell phone activity – that fun package.
Typically there have been a lot of punishments, with all kinds of pecking and nagging, none of which has altered the behavior for the better.
Usually the school is giving the code message, “We’re not doctors, but …” which is code for “We think your child should be on medication.”
By that point, medication has typically been tried in one form or another, along with all of the herbal remedies and walking the balance beam treatments.
One thing that is rarely talked about though is anger.
Zach, 15, was in my office recently with his mom. Zach sat there passively while his mother went through his crimes and misdemeanors. He was giving me nothing to go on – no explanations.
At some point, I turned to Zach and said, “What about the F.U. river that runs underneath all of this. It’s south of swamp called My Parents Are Jerks.”
Wow…did his demeanor shift. Zach immediately lightened up. The mom laughed too. She understood the swamp and the river right away.
I’m not saying that talking about the river is going to lead to great grades, but I do think unless you deal with the river (and the swamp), everything stays blocked. There will be no energy to work through the perceived (and real) drudgery of difficult school tasks.