How do I motivate my teenage son to do his school work?

Pattie - posted on 03/27/2010 ( 31 moms have responded )

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How do you motivate a 16 yr old who has failed since 9th to get in gear and do his work so he can graduate?

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Holly - posted on 10/11/2012

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these r really good ideas if u can get them to work. My 15 year old told me he didnt care if he graduates or not. He said he hears a voice that tells him not to do the work. School is the only problem we have with him he is a good kid and does anything we ask just not what is expected at school. I have taken everything away. I have told him if he does the work he can have internet time on school nights that lasted for 2 days and then it started again. Any help would be great

Melissa - posted on 11/06/2011

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It depends on his personality. The first thing I would recommend is getting REALLY involved in his homework. Find out from his teachers if they have their own web site that shows all the homework that is due. Next, review all of his grades daily if they are available in a web link through the school district. Each evening, review his folder and notes from this days work. Find out if he is taking good notes, if he is completing all his homework, any tests that are impending,etc. Communicate with all his teachers and find out what they think is going on...where he sits, or other factors.

Have a heart to heart and see what is happening in his life. Peer pressure, kinds making fun of him in school, or other any distractions. Tell him that this is his full time job and it is for HIM not for your benefit, because you already graduated. It sounds harsh, but he needs to know that this is HIS life he is leading and he needs to take ownership. Most of all, make sure he knows you are still here for him, no matter what his age and do activities with him where he will talk. For my son, it is either a walk, or going out to eat. Keep reaching out to him and let him know you are supporting him.

This too shall pass. Pray pray pray.

God bless!

M.

Jennifer - posted on 11/06/2011

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Advice without knowing your the entire situation may sound harsh, but I was 16 once and I would have straightened up if my mother did the following:
Make sure he's going to class. I used to cut class. The teacher knew it, but no one EVER told my parents.
Stick to your guns. Remove all distractions. No cell phone. No outside activities. No friends over. No Dating. No Video Games. No Computer. Whatever he loves best - remove it.
Reward good behavior. Call the teacher everyday to check on his behavior. If he goes to class, participates, does his homework and chores reward him with a small dose of whatever you have removed, i.e. cell phone.

You may have to make radical moves, but if he's not trying to improve then he'll get no rewards. You only have a little time left to make him do what you require. Be Bold!

Katrina - posted on 04/02/2010

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Been There Done That..........Our son is 17 years old and we have had the same problems last year and 1/2 of this year. He came home from school day before yesterday and said, "Guess what? I have a C or better in all 8 of my classes." He was so excited. And so were we. We praised him that day and night and are still telling him how proud of him we are. His problem was that for years his biological dad told him he was not going to amount to anything and others called him stupid. He is a very smart young man with a good head on his shoulders. His "Daddy" (Step-father who he calls Daddy and has nothing to do with his biological father anymore) and I had talked til we were blue in the face. It must have sunk in though. Praise God! We had finally come to the conclusion that you can lead a horse to water but, you can not make it drink. We never gave up on him. We still talk to him everyday about the importance of getting an education. We also told him that he would not drop out of school even if he was 25 years old in high school sitting in a little wooden desk with his knees pulled up to his chin looking like Jethro Bodine. Add a little light and laughter while you are talking to him. I know here, there is a rule that you have to have a C average to get your drivers license. Be patient and concerned with them. The importance will come one day sooner hopefully than later. Now, Ryan is in FFA, Shooting Sports Team, Welding Classes, Agri-Science Classes, Bull Riding, and has his C in "all 8 of his classes." It is a long hard road but pls do not give up. It will be well worth it in the end. PRAISE him even if he brings home a D. At least it is not an F. Maybe you can check with the school and see if there is a special class he can be put in. Here in Arkansas we have a huge umbrella of special education. There is one program that is not considered sp ed but is still under the requirements of it. They teach on their grade level but it is not Alg or Geo, it is needed to know things like Consumer Math (paying bills, figuring income, balancing check books---things in everyday life). We even have a computer based class system where the students do everything on the computer-tests, homework, classwork- it is graded by the computer and will not let them proceed until they master that particular section and they work at their own pace. Call your counselor and just ask what can be done and if anything is offered like this in your area. Let me know how things go. Remember to be patient and loving.......PRAISE for everything he does. It will build his self-worth. ♥

Shanece - posted on 03/31/2010

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Its hard!! I have two boys one 22 and one 14. You just have to keep stressing to him the importance of getting an education. But then on the other hand school is not for every body. See what he wants to do when he grows up. Maby there is a trade that he is interested in. Vo tech may be an obtion. Show him real life examples. One thing is dont give up.

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Victoria - posted on 07/13/2013

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Both of my children were honor roll students until we moved to Duxbury, MA, in 2011. Now neither of my teens (14 and 15) will do their homework, much less want to go to school and get there on time. Help! What can I do to help them realize how important school is and that they have to go ...its not an option?

Paula - posted on 11/07/2011

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Your child has been failing for so long - have they been tested to see if there is any special educational needs such as dyslexia etc?
You know your child better than anyone here, go with your gut if your child is trying it on then tough love otherwise i would suggest you have them referred to a specialist.

[deleted account]

Maybe he has a hard time doing the work in traditional high school. Maybe you could enroll him into a Job Corps type school. Where it is more hands on.

Natalie - posted on 11/01/2011

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I am a special education teacher. As a parent, you have the absolute right to refuse special education services. All you need to do is write a note and send it to the spec. ed office at the school. He will immediately be removed from those classes if that's what you want. That being said, I would make sure that's the right decision. Having a speech impediment is NOT a learning disability. Was there psychological testing done that showed a LD? There should have been.

Laura - posted on 04/06/2010

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Pattie,

You can either motivate him with a reward or threaten to take away something. Is there something he really wants that you would be willing to get him if he starts getting better grades? If there isn't anything that he wants that you can and are willing to give him, try taking something he enjoys (cell phone, video game time, computer time). If you don't want to totally take away his cell phone, turn off his texting service. Kids these days can't seem to live without texting.

Have you tried talking to his teachers at school to find out what might be the issue? Is he not interested or does he not understand the lessons? Could he be hanging around the wrong crowd which is influencing his decisions?

Good luck. I hope you can get him to get in gear.

Alice - posted on 04/02/2010

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I have a son and daughter and my son is like me in that he gets right on his homework and works til late, very late. My daughter on the other hand, is lazy and thinks that she can just do like she did in middle school. Both did magnet programs in middle school (this is my son's 8th grade year) and both will continue in magnet programs for high school (my daughters 9th grade year). I try to tell my daughter that she is in a program that requires her to go above and beyond. Just this last grading period, she was in the zone for being put off the track team (which she loves) for failing Math. My husband and I talked to her and then left it in the hands of the coach. Instead of us being the bad guy (ruining her life), we let the coach's rules take course. She had to work her but off, meeting with the coach, missing practice, and meeting with the counselor. It was all on her if she wanted to stay with sports. Once the grading period was over, we let her know that under no circumstances is she going to be allowed any failing grades at any point during this last grading period. She knows that she has to earn additional activity priviledges and we think she is getting it. She cam closer than she would have liked and that scared her. Mandy, I am sorry for what you experienced with the Special Ed. team. I am a Special Ed. teacher and even though some students don't fall under my services, I don't mind giving pointers, suggestions, or even tutoring . I can say that for my 14 year old daughter and my 13 year old sone, tutoring has helped. And they get it from teachers they like. I would also say that you should find out what it is he wants to do with is life beyond school. I am not happy with the push for college readiness and the almost total abandonment of vocational training. It is almost like saying unless you are going to college, your schools can't help you. There are just some students who will go straight to work once they graduate and that's that. It is our job to make them feel good about the skills they do have and not try to push them through to what the district sees as important. I hope I lent something to the discussion Mandy. Good luck!

Ruth - posted on 04/02/2010

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When my son was failing chemistry I called his teacher and scheduled tutoring after school. My kid hated it but I told him that he would continue until he had a C. I also checked daily online to see what his assignments were and didn't let him play any video games until his homework was completed. Then I awarded him with extra computer time and later weekend curfews when he scored higher than c's on assignments. Get involved. Get his teachers involved. My son was always a C student (even though he is smart). He attended technical school his junior and senior years and found something he loved (computer networking). Now he is a junior at a technical college making better grades than he did in high school. He has set a goal of getting a bachelors degree in computer forensics and working for the government as a professional hacker (his instructor already has job possibilities lined up for him). Find something he likes. Stay involved. Don't give up!

Lisa - posted on 04/01/2010

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How tired is he. How late does he stay up. how much computer is he using (computers zap energy) . Take everthing away eg Telly phone computer mp3s games consoles..... leave a little radio or sometin....Tell him when you see results he can have them back ( one at a time start with the least wanted one). if he slacks take them back tell him you want the results from the teachers. he will hate it ......be strong...it twill work dont allow him to sneak them back put them some where he can't get them. Most importantly tell him everyday that you beieve in him and you re proud of him good luck

Sherry - posted on 04/01/2010

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well my 15 yr old is very stubborn and the way i get him to get his homework done is to hide something new i bought for him and each time he gets a piece of work done he gets tio choose a place to look for his surprise,and at the end if he still hasnt found it,than i add a special item to the list and a free homework day always is the favorite choice!

Mandy - posted on 04/01/2010

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I took him out of public school a few years ago and put him in a very small private school. My son has had some problems early on. But, the public school had him on an IEP for the first years. In first grade he no longer met the requirements for it. However, his teacher said that if he didn't have one on one help he would just sit and do no work so they kept him on. In second grade they asked me to retain him because they couldn't since his grades were too good. They couldn't keep him in special education classes the next year and felt he might struggle so I did this. The very next year they tested him and stated that he was mildly retarted. They sent his test results home and I was bothered by the diagnosis because I was just not seeing this to be true. So I asked a teacher I know how to average his scores. I did this several times to be sure I wasn't messing up and even asked my husband to do it. We both came up with the same answer every time. The school had altered his I.Q. scores by exactly 10 points. The difference between average and mentally disabled. I pulled him out immediately and had him tested at an independent school. I was told that in no way was he disabled, that in fact, he was extremely intelligent so I put him in the private school where, for the next 2 1/2 years he was a straight A student with the highest grade point average in the school. I felt it was becoming too easy for him there and they didn't have any sports or P.E. there. My son loves to play all sports and was missing his friends so I put him back in public school where the problems started all over again. Also, I can no longer afford to keep him in private school. Any advice would be welcome.

Mandy - posted on 04/01/2010

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Yes, I have. I took everything away from him for 1 year and I have done this repeatedly for months at a time. After a while it doesn't seem to bother him at all. I have tried rewarding him also and it doesn't seem to matter.

Valerie - posted on 04/01/2010

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I would go to the child's school and find out what kind of alternative programs are available, talk with his teachers and guidance personelll to see if they have an idea what might be contributing. I would sit down with my child and ask him what is up with school and then just listen...chances are he has a learning problem, disability, or is overwhemed by the schol culture he is in...I am a strong believe in alternative settings which tend to offer more learning style choices, smaller class sizes, and nurturing teachers...

Vickie - posted on 04/01/2010

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I live in Australia and our high schools have an apprentiship program for the kids in year 11 and 12 who are not academic. I have a 16 year old and a 13 year old (Both boys). I sat down with the boys in grade 7 (last year of primary) and talked to them about what they are interested in and where they feel they want to go. I then got online and googled what they would like to do. Most of the jobs have requirement lists needed to do that career. In showing my son's this, they themselves know what they need to acheive to get the job they want in the future.



For Mandy.... our high school teachers have an email system which I find is awesome. My boys teachers each send me an email letting me know what assignments are due, when tests are due, how they are going in class and their final marks. This is great because I know what they are suppose to be doing. It also helps in that I can email and communicate with the teacher without going into the school.



I am sooo starting to love this technology we have.

Dena - posted on 03/31/2010

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Mandy,
Have you taken privileges away from him because of his behavior? What consequences is he experiencing besides being in special ed classes (I can't believe a school would do that to a student who is capable of more). Like Justine says, doing homework/putting effort into schoolwork should be rewarded and when it doesn't happen, privileges should be taken away, i.e. no iPod, no TV, no video games-whatever is important to him should be restricted until his performance/behavior improves.

Mandy - posted on 03/31/2010

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So far, I haven't seen an answer based in reality yet. Some kids need more than just a talk and a boost. I have talked to my kids about college since gradeschool. I have one son, and two daughters between the ages of 13 and 17. Two of my children refuse to listen to anything. My son was failing every class this year until the school decided to put him in special education classes. His failing grades were due to not doing homework. He is now an honor roll student again, but it is because he has no homework. I don't feel he needs to be in these classes because he is extremely intelligent, and is just working them so he can be lazy. I even asked the teachers if I could sit in with him so I would know what homework he had to do (because he was very crafty with keeping me from knowing) and they said it was an interference with their other students to do so. If anyone can come up with a real solution to these issues please let me know. I am desperate! My son has a severe speech impediment so it does affect his reading. However, even the man who tested him said he shoud not be in special education classes because he does excellent in things such as math and is just being lazy. PLEASE HELP

Justine - posted on 03/31/2010

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Boy can I relate!! My 14 grandson lives with us. We fought and fought over grades until I went to talk to counselor. She said to put it in his hands. He has to come home from school and sit down for at least half hour to do homework and he is not grounded for bad grades but he has to be home earlier than most and no one can come over after supper on school nights. He knows the better his grades the more privileges he will receive, if he gets D or F's he doesn't get yelled at or grounded, we just told him he is in charge of his life and future. It seems to be working so far, he had raised several of his grades. And when he does raise them we praise him tremendously and he gets more free time. Another thing is we took his playstation, his xbox, his hand helds away, it will be two years on those. now he goes out and actually plays instead of sitting on his butt. He doesn't seem to miss them any more.

Dena - posted on 03/31/2010

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Tutoring is a huge help for students having trouble in school. You can ask his teachers to recommend someone qualified. Sometimes the school can even provide a tutor for free. The one-on-one help is just what some kids need. Someone to work at their speed and help explain what's going on.

Another question is why is he failing? Does he just want to play video games? Does he have a learning disorder? Is he getting enough sleep (8+ hours) so he function well at school? Does he struggle with the concepts that he's being taught?

Good luck to you!

Bonnie - posted on 03/31/2010

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When you find out PLEASE let me know! I have been struggling with my son about school forever it seems but now that he is in 10th grade, I really want him to get serious because he wants to go to college and I know they will start looking at grades. He does not apply himself. He is very smart but just wants to do as little as possible to get by. He also has issues with doing his homework which is a good part of his grade. I can sympathize with you. I feel that I shouldn't have to check his bookbag (when he even brings it home) at this age and baby him but I don't know what else to do.

Bridgette - posted on 03/30/2010

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have you had him tested? he could have some real issues going on. Explain to him how life is going to be without a high school diploma. On a serious, in the state of North Carolina... You can't get a fastfood job without a high school diploma

Teri - posted on 03/30/2010

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I have read the replies to your question, as I am searching for the same answer. Football motivates my son, but with his bad grades that is not a possiblity for him. So...I tried online school, NOT. I have tried taking him out of school...NOT! Next step is job corp. He doesn't want to be away from home, but if he doesn't pull his head out of his hiney, that will be the next step. Good luck!

Jane - posted on 03/30/2010

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I threaten my son! He is an honor roll student but he does not always want to do his homework. All I do is threaten him that I will go to the school and talk with his teachers and start going though his back pack everyday again like I did when he was in grade school. It only took one time. You can also get daily updates by internet from a lot of schools now if your son is not doing so well. I recommend sitting down with him and to have a daily routine That he must follow come home from school, do home work right away. If he does not come right home hunt him down! There is nothing wrong with a little embarrassment in front of his friends if he is not doing what he is supposed to do. For example get in the car now!!! Your the parent don't forget that. set the rules and make sure you follow though on them. Just let him know it's for his own good. My daughters were the worst their brother is a piece of cake. It calms down after they are 18 and usually they tell you they are sorry for being so difficult and they are glad that you stuck by them.

Victoria - posted on 03/28/2010

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DONT WORK AGAINST HIM WORK WITH HIM. ENCOURAGE HIM TO LEARN AND TELL HIM HOW FAR HE CAN GO WITH A HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION AND A COLLEGE DEGREE. IF HE NEED HELP GET HIM SOME EVERYONE NEEDS A PUSH EVERY NOW AND THAN. MY DAUGHTER TUTORED A CHILD THAT WAS A F STUDENT AND NOW SHE HAS A AND B'S. SHE ENCOURAGE THE CHILD AND TALKS TO HER.

Otcpharmacist - posted on 03/27/2010

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sometimes you have to negoiate with the kids. if homework is not done you start taking away toys, gadgets. if they behave you give back

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