13 Year Old, 7th Grade Boy – Composite Profile:
- Engrossed in screens – Video games, YouTube, Instagram, iPad, etc., etc.
- Poor time management..
- Low level study skills and organizational skills.
- Variability of academic performance/under-functioning.
- “Socializing” on internet or through video games.
- Not “steering his boat” (at least in any direction that anyone is happy with).
- Reading is an ancient process that is agonizingly boring.
- Wants to go to “college,” but has no idea what that means.
- Annoyed that mom is over-controlling him, but happy to let her have an anxiety attack over his missing assignments, many of which she is “helping” him complete.
Mom of 13 year Old, 7th Grade Boy – Composite Profile
- Constant anxiety over under-functioning 13 year old boy.
- Checking the school’s internet site (e.g., PowerSchool) for missing assignments and updated grades. Checks three times a day on average.
- Losing lots of sleep.
- Feels like she is about 80% in too much on 15 year old boy’s academics.
- Wants to wring 15 year old boy’s neck a lot, but refrains from doing it for fear of being brought up on charges or being called on child abuse.
- Feels like she is constantly badgering over homework.
- Can’t get husband off of internet.
Ah, the daily dance that we do, played out in so many households across America. The 13 year old boy is sucking up to too many screens and not meeting academic realities, while his mom is driven up a wall.
I know people think these kids need “strategies” to learn to be better students. But, here’s the deal, unless there is sufficient “buy in” from the kid, strategy teaching is a waste of time and money.
Look for places to reduce the dance. For example, check in on PowerSchool (or whatever yours is called) once in a while, not daily. One of my favorite solutions is for parents to strive to be 10% involved.
Put the problem where it belongs – on the kid. Messages delivered matter-of-factly such as, “You’re a big boy. It’s your problem to manage. If you need some assistance, let us know,” go a long way to reduce the tension points and the resulting anger (on both sides). The dance gets diminished.
Try and look at the over-functioning/under-functioning dance of the household. Where you can, lower your emotional involvement in the homework
This summary is totally timely. We have a 14 year old son who exactly fits that profile. I had a brain snap a month ago when a friend said ‘I’ve never been involved in my 4 sons’ homework. I wouldn’t have a clue what they have due or even if they are doing their homework. I think you’ve probably always done too much for your son and now, as he nears 15, you are still doing too much and he hasn’t learnt to do it himself’.
Of course, this insight was a little shock and I thought; what would she know, she had motivated kids who did their work. Mine doesn’t do his work… why? Because I have always helped him!!!!
So, I took her advice and backed RIGHT off. Also got Dad to step in a bit (for the record, Dad was exactly the same as son, but now is a senior manager so did OK in the end). In the 6 weeks I have stepped back, he has started ‘owning it’ a lot more. It is really hard to sit back, really hard because all I can think is ‘if you don’t work hard, you won’t get into university and won’t get a good job and no one can survive these days without a tertiary education’, which we all know is utter rubbish and there are many paths to ‘a good job’ but I’m old fashioned.
But it’s really working. He’s handing stuff in, doing ok, it’s sloppy and half done some of the time and no where near the standard that I doing (!!) but he’s owning it. Thanks for the post.
Wow!!!!!!! Great story. Thanks!!!!! Keep it up!
This hits so close to home!!! BUT, you don’t explain what to do when your 15-year-old son fails Algebra 2, and French, and who knows what else. Then what? We are too much a part because there is not enough interest from the schools. We don’t want them to drop out and not get a high school diploma. We’re not trying to get them As or even Bs. We just want them to graduate from high school.
Thanks for the comment. I understand. It is a real dilemma. Usually for things like Algebra 2 or French it is a bigger issue of the content being overwhelming for the kid.
Tutoring in the content is the only answer.
My other “what to do” is to try and back off some, because I find that too much parental involvement results in underlying anger and resentment, which then results in increased avoidance. That’s why i advocate for a 10% parent involvement.
Not easy, I understand.