I have a 14 year old boy who wont apply himself at school.

Leslie - posted on 02/17/2009 ( 22 moms have responded )

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I looked and saw some questions about the same as mine and looked on the suggested websites already. He won't do home work or class work like he should, He is failing science because he doesn't like physical science. He always forgets homework materials, or just doesn't do it at all. He is struggling in math but mostly because he won't try to redo work that he may have not gotten a good grade on. She lets the students have a chance to fix their mistakes and receive a little more credit on the assignments. I just don't know what to do for him to get him to see the importance of doing his best.He won't study at all no matter how much i ask him to. Any suggestions?

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Laura - posted on 02/18/2009

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I have had this problem with my 12 yo son for 2 years now. It has been very frustrating. He is very bright and can pull off straight A's but won't, leaving him with F's. Obviously this is a longer story but won't go there right now. I suggest 3 things: 1) Have his hearing tested by an audiologist. 2) Have his eyes tested by a known specialist in your area, even the slightest problem can play a big part in his learning abilities. FYI, a normal optometrist only looks for obvious problems. 3) Seek counseling to try to find any underlying problems such as unspoken fears or emotions that have bottled up.



After trying many other alternatives, I started at the beginning with the basics. His hearing was fine. He had a slight eye problem which required glasses to correct. And I found out there were some major underlying issues that I did not realize were bothering him so severely. I just did this recently in fact. And most importantly keep the lines of communication with the school, teachers, and principal open at all times. I work with them daily. Any progress has been slow and like pulling teeth but is coming around.

Alissa - posted on 02/17/2009

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I would say that as both a teacher and a mother of 2 teenage daughters, sometimes teens have the mind set that keeps them from seeing the big picture, or what might change in the future depending on what they are doing with their education right now. The school that I work at had one of the lowest attendance rates and one of the highest drop out rates in Denver a few years ago. All of the students seemed to have a lack of respect for themselves and others. Recently a new principal took over and started some new programs, and one of them might be of help to you. The counselors at the school had the students find something that they really liked that had the potential to become a job and then research people who had that job. They had to talk to at least 5 people that had that job and ask them about their schooling, what was required etc, and how much money they made doing that job. Then the counselor and a math teacher would sit down with the students and walk them through a worksheet that compared how much school the people had, what was needed to get the proper certification for different jobs, and how their salary was effected by how much schooling they had gotten. About 95% of the students found out that no matter how good you were at something, without a certificate saying they had been properly trained at something, the workers ended up making a significantly smaller amount for the same kind of work. Most of them found that with 2 years more of education after high school, people doing the same exact job as their less schooled counterparts were making about $20,000 per year more. Over a lifetime that really adds up. It made an impact on a number of the students when they realized that their current grades were not high enough to get them where they wanted to go, nor the money that they wanted to be making. For some of the boys it was the realization that girls who want to have a family will chose a spouse that can provide for them without having to work twice as many hours to do it. Hope some of that helps you out!

Katrina - posted on 02/24/2009

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What we are trying is working, but slowly. I think that is the key. When my husband and I expect fast results, strife increases in the home. There are a lot of unknowns at this age, so you have to do whatever you need to to manage your feelings about them. That's your "stuff," not his.

Basically, the bottom line rule in our house is that school is priority 1. If he can't make it so, then we do, by taking away his other priorities one by one, or for longer and longer periods. We also manage our own priorities as parents...if we need to turn off the TV b/c he works better in the kitchen than in his room, or drive him to school earlier than the bus so he can get tutoring, that's priority 1.

In the meantime, we have lots of discussions about the reasons for various grades. We don't have goals for grades, which is really scary for me b/c I worry about college, but I find that either a kid wants straight As or not, and you can't change that attitude. Instead, we draw distinctions between him blowing things off (which results in the consequences mentioned earlier) and learning needs not being met (ADD, need for tutors, etc.).

Over time, his GPA comes up, and we slowly transfer the management of his other priorities back to him. Adjust as needed. The trend is very up and down short-term, but up for the long term.

Instead of lecturing him about the future, college, etc., I ask him what he dreams of doing. Ex:, "when you turn 18, what's next? what would you love to do?" Then we can point to school achievements that support that goal. Even if he wants to be a rock star (this week), there are practical things to think about like "what's your fallback if your CD doesn't sell, the band breaks up, or your rising star starts falling? What do you need to know about contracts, etc. to work with record labels, band managers? For the music you play, is it better to have a good ear or solid music theory training?" Then you link that to school performance, plans for college and so forth.

You definitely have to supplement what the school is offering to help motivate, even if your kid magically transforms into the validectorian. This may mean that you spend time at home finding out even more about whatever a class topic is, or apply examples that are meaningful to him (not the "two cars are traveling..."algebra classic). Sometimes your kid will respect outside expertise more, so lessons, clubs or time spent w/folks in certain careers does the trick.

None of these tricks get rid of arguments, setbacks or basic hard work by all parties. They don't guarantee straight As. This is the age where your influence is declining but your consistency and patience is paramount. I don't know about you, but that does not describe me at all! :-) So I know it will always be hard, but I have faith that my son will have a wonderful life of his choosing in the end.

[deleted account]

Quoting Leslie:

I have a 14 year old boy who wont apply himself at school.

I looked and saw some questions about the same as mine and looked on the suggested websites already. He won't do home work or class work like he should, He is failing science because he doesn't like physical science. He always forgets homework materials, or just doesn't do it at all. He is struggling in math but mostly because he won't try to redo work that he may have not gotten a good grade on. She lets the students have a chance to fix their mistakes and receive a little more credit on the assignments. I just don't know what to do for him to get him to see the importance of doing his best.He won't study at all no matter how much i ask him to. Any suggestions?



I have the exact same problem.......I can't believe it!  It's exactly what my 14 yr old son is doing.  We don't know what to do.  I need to read all the replies.  Maybe it  is their age.

[deleted account]

OMG we have the same child!!! Mine is 13. I've threatened him with taking away his Bass Guitar, which he plays in school (but not for class, it is extra). I know he loves to play, but it does not seem to work. I guess I'm going to have to actually call his teacher and tell him he can't play. Other than that, I have had absolutely no luck getting him to do his school work. His test scores were good, but have slowly been going down because of lack of classwork is not doing. Sorry I don't have any suggestions, but at least you know you are not alone. Maybe it is their age.

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22 Comments

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Leslie - posted on 02/22/2009

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I wish our schools did use a program where i could go online to see his grades. Instead of our school system trying to help their students along, they just continue to do budget cuts. Currently there isn't even any after school study help offered and they are considering cutting the sports program for next year. So anything online would be a long ways away, if ever.

Gloria - posted on 02/21/2009

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oh my... I really thought that I was alone with my 14 year old son and the school issues. It has come do to my husband and I are seaking help from a support group at our local hospital on how to raise a teenager. I keep thinking that I'm doing the right things.. and then he doesn't want to apply himself in school.. he is all over the board with his marks. When he does apply himself he gets 80-90's but when he just doesn't care he barely passes.. The lies are getting better.. however his school has K-12 Planet and I check it daily, so he cannot get away without completing his homework or studying for test. However this tool is only as good as its users. If the teachers are not using it then the parents will not see the progress. It is a daily battle and if he doesn't try we take away his TV, Cell, Computer until grades improve. I truly believe that it is an teenage thing and they will grow up and see the importance of schooling...until then we have to be the good voice on there shoulders.. keep the faith..

Ruth - posted on 02/20/2009

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Leslie,
This is a tough situation. I recently interviewed three teachers about motivating kids to do better in school. The comment from the high school teacher might be helpful. Here is the link:
http://suchasmartmom.com/2009/01/30/grea...

I also recently interviewed Dr. Foster Cline, one of the two men who coined the phrase "Helicopter Parent." I'm going to post a story next week about his suggestions on parenting. He had this great suggestion. He said to tell you child that the world has a place for everyone. Some people need to flip burger and prepare fries. He said to tell your child that it's OK if she doesn't want to work hard because there will always be fastfood restaurants for him to work in forever. He said to practice saying this first so that you don't laugh out loud while you are talking to you son. He said it's a great wake up call for kids to hear their parents say this in a calm, serious tone.

Best of luck! Ruth

Leslie - posted on 02/20/2009

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Nadia, I think we may be somewhat on the same page. I am going to start journals with all three of my oldest children and we are going to share them. This way if there are any problems or frustrations we can at least get it out and try to discuss it or help resolve it. I have five children and i know the older ones probably feel that i don't give them the same attention as the 2 little ones. This will give me a little time to compliment each of them and hopefully keep up on how they feel about things, their accomplishments,or struggels. Anyway thanks to all who offered their advice.

Nadia - posted on 02/19/2009

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Hi Leslie,
The homework is a mirror for the way he looks and feels towards responsibilities. As a teenager due to chemical changes and social pressure, they tend to rebel as a way of letting out their frustration.
My advise is to step aside and look at him without judgment,his friends, interests and complaints, then from there try to find out were all the frustration is coming from.
From there you'll be able to help him and then homework will follow naturally as he would love himself and he would want to do his best.
What is important is that he wants and not you.
Hope I can help
All the best
Nadia

Jill - posted on 02/19/2009

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You may not agree with this, but I was at the end of my rope with my 8th grader, so here's what I did... We sat and talked about his grades. I asked if he was happy with them, he said not really, but didn't care anyway. I stayed as positive and sincere as I could because I know he has the capability of getting straight A's or at least A's and high B's. So I challenged him for one quarter. If he can get straight A's for this quarter I will give him $100. I typically do not reward my kids with money for grades, but wanted his attention to prove a point...that he can do it if he choses to. All of those C's have come up and his GPA is currently 3.89 up from a 2.27 last quarter. He usually doesn't talk to me about his classes or lies about getting homework done. Now he calls me from school when he gets an A on something as he is so proud of himself. He may not get striaght A's, but I don't care. I am just glad that he has seen what he is capable of and feels good about it. He told me the other day that it sounds better to hear me say I am proud of his grades, than hearing I know you could be an A student if you tried. He has seen something in himself that now drives him rather than our bet.



Not sure that this would work for anyone else, but so far so good with my teen. I tried everything else. You need to get his attention and give him a challenge (not a bribe), it doesn't necessarily have to be money, it can be whatever is important to him that you can follow through with., because he might surprise you. Good Luck!

Mary - posted on 02/19/2009

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I have been having this issue with my son for the past three years.  He is 17 now and a Junior.  He is just skating by.  I have met with teachers time and time again as well as email them constently.  They all tell me that he will graduate (my biggest fear is he won't) and that once he gets out of high school and moves onto something he chooses on his own he will do just fine.  He just needs to find what he wants to apply himself too.  It is so frustrating to see so much potential not being used.  I almost said waisted, but I think he is learning things, just in his own way.  I am also one who believes strongly that our school systems are just not functioning with todays children.  Good luck to you.

Jerri - posted on 02/19/2009

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I have the same thing with my 14 year old son.He has been tested and found he has a mild case of dislexia I took him to get tested but the school he attends has not helped any.They put him in a  1 hr class with 1st and 2ed graders when he was in the 7th so that just made matters worse because it really got on his nerves thinking every one would look at him as stupid.He is not stupid just has a had time learning what he reads.right now I am hoping high school will be different.

Leslie - posted on 02/19/2009

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Joey, something else i have considered today(been thinking about this alot) is instead of taking everything untill i see an improvement, i'm going to email all his teachers and ask for a weekly email with his grades on it. If he fails a test, gets any zero's or isn't doing homework/classwork then he will loose any weekend privlages as well as the few i'm going to let him have during the week. I'm thinking maybe an hour for TV, games, or computer and maybe an hour outside. I'm also thinking about keeping a journal with him. He can wright his entry and then me or maybe keep seprate journals and just share them. I D K quite yet how i'll do that.

Joey - posted on 02/19/2009

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Well, at least I am not alone...my 13yr old daughter is EXACTLY the same. She has the ability to remember umpteen cell phone numbers, memorize the words to any song after hearing it once, etc but when it comes to school she just doesn't care. I have explained over and over again the impact this type of behavior will have on her future . I have begged and bribed her to just apply herself but nothing works. I feel like giving up but I know that if I do she will really be lost. So, I just stay on her, keep "nagging" and at the vary least when she is all grown up she can look back and say "I should have listened to my mom".

I really like the idea about having them research their potential career choice. That may be a great idea to do on our own to help get my point across.....good luck everyone!

Lydia - posted on 02/18/2009

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I sent my 13 yrold to Sylvan last summer. It helped but she was on a 2nd grade reading and 3 rd grade math. I could not afford to send her the whole time. Before you pay for this expensive school I suggest you try to call on a university or college in your area and see if any students are willing to tutor him for a little of money. They need the extra money and sometimes teenage kids do better with someone around their age. Just a thought. My daughter is ADHD and is in LD classes everyday. I send her to tutoring 2 to 3 times a day at the school. This really helps too. If you know a teacher that could work with him a couple days a week after school this might save you money too. I thought I would give you some advice I had to learn the hard way. Hope it works,

Leslie - posted on 02/18/2009

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Maybe i will print this off and sugest it to our schools guidence department and principal. It sounds like a good idea worth trying. Thanks Everyone for your advice.

Leslie - posted on 02/18/2009

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Thats AWESOME that you were able to help her in that way. I have seen him make perfect scores on the SOL test he has had to take and i know he has a hard time with math. He went from Earth Science to Phisical Science this year and he hates Physical Science and the teacher and just doesn't seem to care. I'm going to call his guidence counsler today and see if there is anything we can do to help him.

User - posted on 02/17/2009

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I too have the same issues.  I did find out through my son, that a recent change in the classroom was the root of the problem.  Contact the school to see if there is a change some where.  Invite him in to sit down on a meeting.  You would be surprised to learn what he might be thinking or feeling. 



Good luck

Holly - posted on 02/17/2009

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Oh my goodness!  I am in the midst of a similar circumstance with my own 14yo boy!  He is a bright kid, and was always an A-B student until this year and it has gone significantly downhill.  The course work has gotten harder, and I'm at a loss on how to help him.  He claims he's studied for things and even when I quiz him he seems prepared, but his test and quiz grades don't reflect it AT ALL!  I'm starting to suspect this could all be tied to reading/study skills.  He's never been a super strong reader.  Not where it's been a noticeable problem, just not a real strength.  Our budget is really tight right now, but we are biting the bullet and I just made an appointment with Sylvan for later this week to have his reading skills evaluated.  Good luck!

Mollie - posted on 02/17/2009

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Maybe he is not understanding what he is learning. Our daughter has a Math Learning Disability. The teachers are busy and don't recognize these problems with learning. I would have the school test him. Our daughter entered 7th grade at a 4th grade level, I hammered them to have her tested and now that she is on an I.E.P. (Individual Learning Plan) she is in 9th grade doing 9th grade Algebra. She is only up to a C, but that is Fantastic after what she went through. Sometimes lack of motivation is fear of failing.

KathieLyn - posted on 02/17/2009

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I wish I could give you some advice but sadly I am in the sameb boat with my 15 yr old, he is a 90s student if he just applies himself but he is so storng willed talking to him is like well you know talking to a brick wall, he buckles down last minute and I do not like procrastinators and he for sure does that, so if you think of anything I need help in this area too..good luck Leslie the way I see it is we just keep after them supporting them and hope they figure out how important it really is they get their education especially now adays..

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