How do i get my Teenage Son to Focus on Studies and Extra Curricular Activities ?

Elaine - posted on 10/30/2011 ( 15 moms have responded )

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Hi, I have a teenage son (14 years) who is an avid reader and finds all the time in the world to read books from the Library. During the week, he is also enrolled for guitar classes and cricket coaching. He has a very high grasping capacity (time and again tested by his friends & family on the books he reads and the movies he has seen). My problem is : he never practises guitar on his own accord. We have to constantly remind/nag him about his practice and threaten to discontinue his music classes for him to practise. My question is : should i discontinue his music classes? (2) He also has failed in 2 subjects the first unit test and another new subject in the I Term Exam. How do i get him to focus on his studies and his music ?

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Jane - posted on 10/30/2011

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Why is he enrolled in guitar lessons? If it is because he "should be learning an instrument" then discontinue it forthwith as it is not something he is doing for his own pleasure. If it is because he asked for guitar lessons, then use the continuance of the lessons as a carrot, to make him do his practicing and schoolwork.

Quite frankly, I come from a family of musicians, and those who are inclined that way simply cannot be prevented from playing their instruments, whether they have formal lessons or not. They may not be practicing the assigned pieces, but they are always playing music. It sounds to me as if either you want him to take lessons but he isn't interested, or as if he likes the idea of playing the guitar but not the reality of it.

Because he is failing subjects, I would replace much of his free time with tutoring, either through the school, by you, or with a paid tutor. Also, deprive him of his library time unless he completes his school work satisfactorily.

You don't say anything about his cricket playing. Is this something that can also be a reward for when he does his work?

Good luck! At least he hasn't discovered girls yet.

Britt - posted on 10/30/2011

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Can you try to sit down and work with him or maybe a tutor to help him in the areas he needs help with?

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Carla - posted on 11/02/2011

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Hi Elaine,

This is a tough time. Teens want to show their independence but still in some cases lack good judgement, time management and organizational skills. I agree with Minister April. You have to find his hot buttons - the items that would get his attention if they were taken away so that he can focus on his studies. For my son, that is his X-Box, lap top and cell phone. As far as the guitar lessons, I also agree with many of the responses. Sounds like he can focus on things he likes (reading). If he really liked guitar he's make time for it. We had a similar issue with my son. We suggested guitar after he decided he didn't want to be in marching band. He did okay with practicing during the summer but it was awful when school started. He was relieved when we discontinued the lessons.Good luck!

Sandy - posted on 11/01/2011

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I think that if he actually liked guitar lessons, he'd practice. He doesn't seem to like it that much, at least not right now. Cricket is good for exercise, but if it keeps him from studying and is a risk to his grades, then ditch it. Have him focus on his schoolwork, and use reading his books as a reward. It's great that he loves to read. Don't discourage him from reading, just be sure he does his school work first.

My stepson has similar issues.

Vicky - posted on 11/01/2011

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If you make a threat to do something like cancel lessons then it is important that you follow through with it. If a pleasurable thing is cancelled then the child will understand that he has to pick up his game in order to have that pleasure returned. Obviously you would have to explain this to him. When or if he raises his game educationally you then return the lessons to him as a reward for good work. If he continues to fail the subject then you may have to look for extra tuition in that area for him. He needs to understand that good things only come out of hard work. If he isn't prepared to work for reward then he doesn't value that reward enough and you would have to think again for a different reward. I hope that this makes sense and that it helps you somehow. Good luck!!

Donna - posted on 11/01/2011

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Ask him if he enjoys the music lessons. He might be just taking them to please you. Can you set a rule that there is no tv or books until he gets his homework done and have you check it. He might need to get up and have short breaks during homework time. Ask the teach if he needs extra help.

[deleted account]

It sounds like your son is actually very gifted. Is he possibly just bored in school? Some food for thought may be an alternative learning school. If learning isn't fun for him, he is just going to "not care" about it.

Michelle - posted on 11/01/2011

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For starters cancel guitar. He's obviously not that into it and sees it as a chore rather than a privilege. If he has access to one at home he'll pick it up and tinker if he wants. Not sure about schoolwork but at least you'll lose one source of stress and nagging.

Sharonda - posted on 11/01/2011

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I like what Minister April said! What you need to do is key in on the things he actually likes. If it is book reading then limit that in exchange for study. At 14, he really does not have the right to tell you where he is studying and what to do. Those are privileges we give our children when they are doing what they should. And most of all, your yes should be yes and no should be no. Let the guitar lessons go for a bit, even if he picks up the thing and starts practicing. It is probably habit for him to do so at this point. Keep the restrictions after he does what he is supposed to do. Make him show consistency. This is not as hard as it seems but words are powerful so keep it positive and keep a killer upbeat attitude. You will ALWAYS fake them out with that. :-) Cell phone, games, etc. are all tools for you to use. Don't be dismayed, you can do this but you have to get stern with yourself and don't let him crawl under your skin to make your no a yes! :-)

Denise - posted on 11/01/2011

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Hi Elaine, you are in a tough situation. He is at that age where you need to saty on top of things, but by the same token he will resent just about any action taken as a consequence. I am a strong believer in the you and me messages. Perhaps if you speak to him about his actions and deliver it in a non-confrontaltional manner it may get through to him. Please don't compare him to his brother, it will foster resentment towards the sibling. My youngest would always tell me "I really hate when you ask me about my homework over and over" and I would respond "I hate having to ask about your homework over and over, but your refusal to do the assigned tasks in a timely manner forces me to ask." After a while, he began to understand the message "your actions drive my actions". It wasn't easy but he finally got it.

MINISTER APRIL - posted on 10/31/2011

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I have a a few questions First...1.Does he have a X-BOX?2.Does he have a cellular phone...3.Does he have a computer...If so...This what you do...No X-Box cellular phone n computer for 2 wks...AND...I bet within 24 hrs...He is studying...If he has a cellular phone and you take it and he can't text...I give you a written guarantee within 2 hrs he will be studying!...But...I will give him 24 hrs HE WILL BE A STUDYING...These kids can't go without texting...As far as guitar lessons or a child who wants to play a instrument they play without lessons if that's want they want...He might not be interested...

Jane - posted on 10/31/2011

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I still say discontinue the guitar lessons for now. And use cricket and the library to motivate him. And if he doesn't want you to monitor his schoolwork, tough! He has proven unreliable and he is still a child, so you need to step in and be certain he is doing his work.

Amy - posted on 10/31/2011

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Well at 14 if he doesn't like when you sit down with him while he's doing school work that's too bad because until he can prove that he's going to do the work for the classes that's what needs to happen! As far as guitar lessons go it sounds like it's mode for you as the parent then it is for him, children want to please their parents so he probably sees how disappointed you are when you cancel the lessons so he promises to practice out of guilt and tries to make you happy. But it really sounds like he's not interested, and it's extra curricular to school which IMO you don't get to participate in if you aren't doing your primary job which is getting a good education.

If he looks forward to the cricket sessions then you need to use it to keep him motivated to do his school work. Everyone is motivated by something you need to figure out what is going to keep your son motivated in school if I were you I'd give up the music for now and find.a way to make cricket and library/reading to my advantage to motivate him to get his work done!

Elaine - posted on 10/31/2011

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Britt,
thank you for your response. my son jonathan does not like to be monitored. he does not like it when i ask him about his studies, project, tests or homework. he does not like it when i sit in the same room he is studying.

Elaine - posted on 10/31/2011

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Jane,
Thank you for your response. I clarify the following : Initially (when he was 7 years) we enrolled him for the (guitar) and his bro (piano) classes. His bro always practiced his lessons and always played either the piano or guitar. We were forced to discontinue Jonathan's guitar classes on three different occasions just to get him to practise. He does practise once his lessons are discontinued/or if our threat seems to be on a higher note. But then one day later its again back to the same old story ........... goes for his class but does not want to practise at all.

Regarding cricket : he is enrolled into a weekend academy where they play for 3 hours. here i don't expect anything else from them and he looks forward to going for these sessions.

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