Im really worried about my son. I think he is pushing himself too hard. He broke down last night on me about how hard he is trying to do everything. He doesn't know how to be a kid anymore.

Chuston578 - posted on 11/28/2012 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My son is 16 years old and I worry is slowly falling apart. He is pushing himself so hard, I think he is about to crack. He is trying to take on all honors classes, plus Academic Decathalon and he falls apart if he gets a B on a test. He is always so high strung to keep moving forward and doesn't ever just relax, I haven't seen my son be a kid in about 4 years now. What can I do to help him?

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Tracy - posted on 12/01/2012

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You seriously just described my 15 year old son (16 in January). This Halloween he was at the school until nearly 6pm doing extra schoolwork and I had to have a LOOOOONG talk with him about perfection. He refused to come home because he "needed" to get this stuff done. I finally broke through to him when I asked him "when was the last time you did something just for YOU? Something you enjoy?" There was dead silence on the phone for probably 30 seconds. I said very softly, "that's my point, you need to learn to balance LIFE with school". It doesn't help that his idol is Steve Jobs and he just read the biography which says Jobs' philosophy for life: BETTER IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH. I love ya Steve Jobs, but please don't influence some of our kids this way - they take it way too much to heart! So, we had a very long talk about how he knows I really value education BUT, I value education for the learning experience - not the grades. His school (local public school) is a pretty good one but apparently has been putting huge pressure on him (all of them?) about college and what it takes to get there. I explained to my son that unless he is TRYING to screw up his grades, he will get into college. Maybe not the ones he was wanting to go to, but once you have your degree it really doesn't matter in the workforce. I told my son very seriously that if I have to choose between two scenarios, I would rather him me a plumber making $40,000/yr but happy as hell to go to work and able to see his wife/kids a lot than to have him be a lawyer making $200,000/yr but miserable and always working. He said he doesn't want to be average. I told him very flatly "what's wrong with average as long as you are happy in your life?" (I'm SOOOOOOOOOO sick of this mentality in parenting these days that says MY kids have to be super standout special, gifted, talented, successful beyond expectation - just like everyone else's kids) On Halloween, when he was at school so late and hadn't slept in two days in attempts to get work done, I had to explain to him that 20 years later I can't tell you what classes I had, what grades I had, because it doesn't matter! I can tell you what my friends and I did and that we had some fun. I told him that I remember the friend stuff because that is what matters in life - because that IS life... I told him I still expect him to try his best, which is all I've ever really asked, but I've always said that if his best is a D after seeking help and studying, etc... then who cares!? We've had to talk about how someone can't be good (or the best) at everything. Find your strengths and work with them. Just as important, find your weaknesses and, when and where possible, try to improve (basically, don't avoid them, but don't focus on them either).



Maybe try challenging your son to name the last 5 things he did that was fun, JUST FOR HIM and not school related. When I asked my son this, he immediately tried to say seeing his girlfriend. I told him that doesn't count because that isn't JUST FOR HIM. I pointed out some of the hobbies he used to enjoy: playing Halo, making youtube videos, etc... He honestly couldn't remember the last time. Since our talk (and the release of Halo 4, which I took him to a midnight release on a school night for to show him that you can have a life amidst the school stuff) he and his friends have arranged a Halo party night pretty much every weekend. Last week was at our house and it was so special to have 7 teenagers (three of them girls) running around yelling and eating chinese food while PLAYING and not worrying. LOL, I would have liked to remove some testosterone from his best friend, but it was a fantastic evening. You could tell how much ALL of them enjoy these parties lately.



Soooo....among all my rambling because I hope something clicks for you in here because you really explained my own son perfectly and the talks we have had lately about the exact same subject. If I boil my advice down, challenge him to do something JUST FOR HIM and FUN. Explain to him the importance of life. Yes, it's important to prepare for the future but NO ONE PROMISED YOU WILL HAVE A FUTURE - A TOMORROW - EVEN A TONIGHT. If you spend every bit of your energy preparing for SOMEDAY, you will never have a story of today. Talk about his expectations for himself and why they are set where they are. For my son, much of this came from a comment a teacher made TWO years ago. My son was being funny in class (before the bell rang to start) and the teacher told my son seriously in front of the class that he would make a horrible husband and provider one day (my son is a family guy through and through).



If you ever want to talk, just email me. I'd love to talk. :)

Ann - posted on 12/05/2012

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I have a friend whos daughter is like this. Extremely smart. Takes lessons in a couple different instruments. Not only does after school stuff in drama, but also works on the stage in her town. Then, she goes to workshops. Writes songs. Made it to nationals in choir. I asked her mom how she keeps up. Her mom told me that as long as she didn't freak out, and calmly helped her get places, that her daughter didn't freak out. But as soon as mom was like 'thats too much! You really don't need anymore on your plate. I don't think we can get there on time.' her daughter would freak out. So, she just asks what she can do to help. It seems that all this stuff is what her daughter really enjoys, and wants to make a career out of. Sometimes, our little overachievers need us just to help them study, or ask what we can do to help, in order to be able to enjoy themselves more in their endeavors.

At the same time. Let him know you love him no matter what. A B will not bring down his grade to keep him from college scholarships. (thats what it sounds like he is after) He may really enjoy learning and freak out because he thinks it is something he has mastered.

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Jemma - posted on 12/29/2012

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Please dont take him off special classes and make him go on a vacation for a week like said below If he leaves for a week he'll just freak out about missing a weeks lessons.
I suggest take him an hour or so off study each night and then 55 mins the next week and 50 the next so he can adjust back into studying.
This not only gives him alot more time to relax but he can also feel like he is doing something.
Also study parties are a good way to make him socialise and study at the same time though my mom tried this and I hated it soo....

Sunitha - posted on 12/12/2012

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i dont know...i think each kid is wired differently..nothing to do with how he is brought up..my fellow is the same age but seems too relaxed about his studies ..we parents seem to be falling apart over them! Take him off all special classes ..just do that..let him concentrate only on the basic course..

Anthony Mc - posted on 12/11/2012

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Here are some tips that may help your 16 year old.There is no doubt about it, For most students there is too much of an obsession with grades.And as a result students feel insecure and anxiety doing more harm than good.This kind of stress can affect both your mind and body leading to lack of concentration or think clearly.Tip no 1 have your son pay special attention at the start of every subject just for 5-10 minutes.then he can relax on his homework .The sooner he makes good notes at the begening of a subject the easier it will be to remember new learning.Keep in mind that all new information is lost in a very short space of time.tip no 2 Before every subject have him take 3 deep breaths hold for 3 seconds and breath out slowly concentrating on the breathing this exercise will clear his mind of unwanted thoughts 'no 3 Tips for homework have him take a 10 minute break every 20 or 30 minutes this will recharge his mind and study much better.

User - posted on 12/11/2012

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Tell him that your love him and are worried about the stress that he is putting himself under. Ask him why he is expecting perfection? Remind him that school is about learning what you don't know, not proving what you do and getting all A's....



Maybe he is worried about his ranking and getting scholarships for college.....



Another option. Take him away for a week; don't let him bring any books..... make him relax.

Lakota - posted on 11/29/2012

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That sounds good. My son is in honors programs and sports. So, he works hard to keep his grades up. But, it takes less than half a second for him to drop whatever he is doing as soon as he hears "why don't you take a break". LOL Good luck with everything. Let me know how counseling works out. Keep your head up.

Lakota - posted on 11/29/2012

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Wow. He sounds amazing. He does need a break. Have you talked to him about your concerns? He may not know how to slow down on his own - if that makes any sense.

Chuston578 - posted on 11/29/2012

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I am not sure who put the pressure on him. We have always told him to do his best, but never really set a bar for him. He has taught him self programming, learned this when he was 10. He taught himself how to play keyboard, is taking honors classes. I just think he needs a mental break.

Lakota - posted on 11/29/2012

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Take the pressure away from him. You already know that he needs some help. Who started putting pressure on him in the first place? This is a learned behavior. It is awesome that he is so smart and driven. But, he needs a break - whether he wants one or not.

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