Teen boys apathetic to school and grades

Kareen - posted on 02/02/2010 ( 15 moms have responded )

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I'm so ready to pull my hair out! My son has been an honor roll student his entire academic career. This year he is in 3 honors classes and has decided to take a siesta from studying, at least for the first semester. I don't know how to motivate him...have tried threats and consequences as well as the other side of things (i.e. rewards for good grades and study habits) nothing is working. He is in his freshman year and I'm worried he isn't going to snap out of this. We have 3 other children and can't afford to send him to college without the help of scholarships, which if this continues, will not be a possibility. Any body have any ideas?

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Sue - posted on 12/02/2011

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OMG... lol going to the classroom and sitting in.. I have thought about that, but my son has started a new school and is having a hard time adjusting to everything and everyone so I was worried about embarrassing him. Now, he's failing every class and when the teachers tell him to do his work, he flat out say's no. At home the same thing. he's 14.. My 16 year old is sooo smart and a sophmore, he also has just decided that he has no time for homework???? what is going on.. I've just decided I will be starting with,
when home: Snack.. homework.. chores.. and a black mark for all missed or messed up chores. then each black mark will get an early half hour knocked off their up time before bed. I'm also going to threaten summer school. I'm all done with this and apparently I've been to busy working and being everything except an actual parent wth guidance. Wish me luck (lol)

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Wendy - posted on 06/05/2014

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Our grandson lives with us. He has ADHD and is totally disrespectful of us. He is okay with most other people. He will be a freshman and I am scared to death. He totally didn't study at home at all this past year. His grades dropped from a high B to F's in three subjects; C's & D's otherwise. Nothing is working for us either. When we ask him to do things, he ignores us or walks out. He does not do his chores and he is the messiest. He is doing only what he wants to do. I just about can't take this anymore.

Deborah - posted on 10/02/2012

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I am so with you on this one. I have trouble getting ALL my boys to do homework, but especially my 15 year old, sophomore. He says he just doesn't want to do it. Many failing grades right now. When he puts his mind to it he does WELL. I have emphasized the importance of grades for college admission. I think he doesn't really understand. I do like the idea of hanging out in his classrooms. Boy, that would embarrass him. Maybe I will just make mention of it and see what happens. Keep me posted on what works.

Christy - posted on 03/10/2010

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Both of my kids over the 2 last years....ages 10 and 13 now, have just decided to quit doing homework or studying. I have done everything from rewards to punishments and long term grounding. Nothing has worked. At this point I have told them fine do as you want but don't cry when you fail and have to repeat the grade. Makes me feel like a horrible mom but no matter what I do neither of them shapes up. At this point our last resort is to let them fail sadly.

Dawn - posted on 03/09/2010

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I am in the exactly the same place with my son who is a freshman as well. I also have tryed everly thing in the books. I have called school meetings, I have drug tested (negative thank god), and just sitting down and talking. We have always had a very good open positive honest talking relationship. Nothing is working. When he shows up to class he always passes his tests and gets good grades, but because he skips so much the teachers have told me they can not pass him. In Florida if you miss so many days they have to fail him, and we tryed everything. Last Wednesday we had a school meeting and this time it did not turn out well. They are going to take him to court to have the judge order him to school. For a kid that has so much going for him you hate to see it take that turn. I did notice that it started when I was diagnosedwith cancer, we have been to counceling but obviously we need more. I would suggest trying counceling to see if there is anything going on mind wise, but also the hormone changes may also be playing a part in the behaivor. After having a complete work up on my son we found out his testosterone levels are very high and may be playing a role in this new found rebelion.

Maisee - posted on 03/09/2010

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Maybe find out if theres something else that's bothering him. It's a tough time for kids at this age. They have to deal with the pressures of fitting in, making friends, or being the perfect role model for their siblings. My 13 yr old daughter was also an honor roll student and her grades started declining so of course I freaked out. I had a talk with her and she made a comment of "it's not like you cared when I got good grades." I than realized I was so focused on helping my son, who is younger, because he is always struggling with homework, I didn't realize she wanted attention or needed help too. I assumed she didn't need help because she was an "honor roll" student. I didn't realize how much this affected her so I apologized to her if she didn't feel appreciated for getting good grades and told her that I appreciate everthing she does and show my appreciation by not worrying about her because I knew she was going to be so good. Ask him what he wants to be in the future and remind him again that high school counts if he wants to get into a good college. Tell him it's okay to hang out with his friends and do fun stuff but he has to take care of his responsibilities first. If he was an honor roll student, his grades will definitely boost back up because he does care. (My daughter's grades boosted back up the next semester)

Roshanna - posted on 03/08/2010

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Hey ,Mrs Kareen I do understand what you are saying because I just and partially still going through it myself. When my son didn't do his schollwork or study, Isurprised him at scholl and sat in his class the whole period it changed his mind about school.

Liz - posted on 02/28/2010

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Continue what you're doing, and let him know that he will probably not be able to go away to school if he cannot get grades good enough to either get into a competitve state school, or qualify for scholarships. If he doesn't get motivated, he may be a late bloomer, and perhaps he is a late bloomer, needing to find his own motivation before he really starts kicking it into gear. In the meantime, he may have to go to a community college out of high school to get his grades up, then transfer to a 4-yr college after his first year or two. Your situation is quite common - especially in 7th & 8th grade, where kids are smart enough to realize that their grades in Jr. High don't necessarily matter in high school. Continue to give him rewards & keep the lines of communication open.

Good luck.

Sharon - posted on 02/27/2010

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I hope things work out for him and your family. My teenager is a freshman as well, I count myself lucky that he is a great kid and his grades are now better than they were before high school.

Starting in 7th grade we made him more "responsible" for his grades and such. We left it up to him to maintain his own grades and turn in his homework. If his grades slipped too much we put mild pressure on him and reminded him about his grades. Now, just over two years later, he is doing quite well and he knows what is expected of him.

He also knew that if his grades slipped too much we would alter his bed-time, eliminate extra-curricular activities, decrease tv time, add chores and/or temporarily suspend his receiving allowance. He knew the punishments if he did not meet expectations. Right now he is quite active in school and has a girlfriend, while maintaining his grades.

Sharra - posted on 02/27/2010

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Keep us posted! I, for one, would like to hear what alternative you've chosen (as I also have a HS Freshman that is "floundering"). My prayers for you and your family!

Kareen - posted on 02/26/2010

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Thank you to all who've responded to my post. It really is a comfort to hear others have had similar situations with their teens. My husband and I have discussed alternatives and have chosen the path that works for us now. So far, we have seen some improvement...crossing my fingers that this will last.....at least for a little while. :)

Linda - posted on 02/04/2010

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I think you should call a family meeting, and in front of the whole family tell your son that you apologize for micro-managing his life, and that you understand he is trying to tell you he wants to do things his own way by not doing the required work, so you are going to back off and let him take control. Calmly explain that this means if he screws up, it will limit his choices later on. And that you are always available to give support, but you will WAIT until He asks You! Make sure he knows he has all the power!

I know it can be very painful to watch our children flounder, but how else will their wings be strong enough to lift them up?

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He is a freshman in high school and has been doing the school thing long enough to know better. I would put your expectations out there, dish out punishment (take something away) when he gets an unacceptable grade on his report card. It is really his responsibility to do his work and to succeed or not. It is better he learn these lessons while he is under your care and living at home so you can guide him.

Suzanne - posted on 02/03/2010

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I have a daughter in her first year of university as well...it seems like her grades are not what they were. I think it is the adjustment to new surroundings and new friends. In a way I feel as though I am there for support only (I mean that in a good way). She is at a stage in her life where she needs to focus on her goals and determine what is right for her. I am very proud of her and whatever path is right for her I will be there, loving and supporting her.

It is my belief that too many parents do so much in the way of decision making for their kids, ie. course selection, carreer choices, and even homework (how much effort goes into every book report, project etc.). How can a young person take pride in their own acheivements and suffer the consequences of their own short comings if someone else is holding the reigns?

My advice is that by the time a son or daughter is college/university age it is time to let them decide how much is too much or too little. As a parent let them know that they should set their own goals and determine how best to acheive them and that we will be right behind them all the way.

I should mention that I have a son who is doing his PHD at Rutger's University in Computational Neuroscience and another daughter who is a couple of courses short of completing her high school education, but is working for a well known advertising company. Making more money than I've ever made and loving every minute of it. My youngest daughter ws aspiring to be a Pediatrician and work with "Doctor's without Borders". She is now talking about becoming a nurse...she could get there sooner.

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