How do you get your teen boys to stay on task??

Leanna - posted on 04/28/2011 ( 8 moms have responded )




My boys just turned 13. They both are lazy and cut corners when it's time to do their chores, but the major issue is they completly stopped being responsible! They've gotten into the habit of not doing their homework. They have a hard time staying focused on both homework and chores. I find myself constantly getting on them to either start or finsh the two. They just space out or 'forget' all together. Both my husband and I are sick of yelling at them, (it seems like that's all we do) or being their cheerleader. Every afternoon and evening are spent by us saying 'Come on, you're almost done, hurry up and finish, son come finish, do that right, two more problems..." until I end up scolding them. Every evening they goe to bed upset and I go to bed angry. There's got to be a better way! We've grounded them for everytime we have to make them go back and do it right, but they stayed in their room for two weeks straight. My parents would've kicked our butts into gear, but they're a little old to be spanked. I tried sending them to bed a half an hour earlier for everytime we have to remind them to get back to what they were doing, but by the time they finished their dinner and homework, it ended up being even later then their regular bedtime. They also need to be reminded to brush thier teeth, take a shower, clean up after themselves, etc. Shouldn't they be more responsible by now? Is this laziness normal? I don't baby them and am very strict with them, but I'm beginning to feel like a drill sargent! I would appreciate advice from anyone!


Jodi - posted on 04/28/2011




I have a book called "Raising Boys" by Steve Biddulph, and it has been my bible in raising both my son and my step-son over the years. And it really has helped me take a step back and see it for what it is. My son is almost 14, and my step son is 12, and I TOTALLY hear where you are coming from. I find I get far less frustrated with it because I understand WHY they are like this. Sure, it still frustrates the heck out of me, but I have more patience for it.

It's the testosterone. They have such a HUGE injection of testosterone at this age that their brains essentially have to rewire themselves, and this can take many months (even a couple of years). It is causing rapid growth, makes them dopey and disorganised and basically, mum and dad have to be their substitute brains until the rewiring is complete. Honestly, it is perfectly normal, and they really have no control over it, so in many ways, as parents, we need to adapt our attitudes to recognise this. They WILL grow out of it eventually. I am of the view that making everything a battle is not helping. My oldest is hopeless at the moment - I have to remind him about EVERYTHING, I swear his brain has totally left his body. But I have just taken a much more relaxed approach about it, and try to just have him focus on one thing at a time (and I help him keep that focus). He doesn't get punished for lack of focus, and I still encourage his football training and his matches, because these are a REALLY important outlet for a teenage boy. Constant homework is not going to help matters at all, they NEED the release of some sport time/physical activity. It helps them regain some focus and let out some of those feelings the testosterone is creating.

See if you can get hold of this book, it's been great for me. There is a lot more to it than what I described, but it has some fantastic facts in it about boys of all ages, and I have found it really help in understanding my boys so that my parenting can take these things into consideration.

So, no, it doesn't fix the problem, necessarily, but my knowledge of the physical reasons has helped me to manage it.

JuLeah - posted on 04/28/2011




How much sleep do they get? At this age they need even more then they did at age ten. They ought to be sleeping at least ten hours a night, and you will see major and unpleasent behaviors if that sleep time is not there.

Yelling does not work, so why are you still yelling. They ignore the yelling and keep on doing what they are doing and you keep yelling, scolding, nagging, praising ... doesn't work. Won't work. Won't ever work.

You say you don't baby them, but it really sounds like you do. If you held down a job, say you are an attorney, would your boss be checking over your shoulder every ten minutes, "Got that motion done yet?" "Come on, get it done" "Come on, you almost have it"

No, you'd do the work required or you would not do the work. The consequences would also be yours.

They don't shower, and their buddies won't sit next to them on the bus. They won't brush their teeth, and the girl they like will laugh in their face. They won't do their homework, they fail, take summer shool, repeat a grade .... the only way they are going to care about any of this is if the consequences for not doing it are theirs. They are not responsible cause they have never been asked to be. They are lazy cause they can be.

They leave their coat on the floor, pick it up and hang it in your closet, or simply give it to a kid in need who will take care of it and value it. Let your kid mow lawns to earn money for another coat, he will value that one.

The concept of 'teen' remember, was one we created, well, Disney created. It was a marketing plot, a new group to sell to. But, in terms of evloution, 'teen' is unheard of.

In our history, and in nature, when a person is old enough to take on adult roles, they do. They are responsible, becuase the family depends on them.

Teens in our culture, have little value and they know it. We send them to school to keep them busy, out of the way, and out of the job market .... but they serve no real function in our society as a whole.

They are lazy becuase they are allowed to be and it is even expected. They way teens act today is not the way teens acted in my grandparents day. We have come to expect 'teen' behaviors forgetting that we invented the concept.

They are able to do sooo much more then we allow them to do, we keep them busy with 'little kid' things and delay their 'growing up and joing the adult world' as long as we can.

Teens are depressed, based on what I have seen. They have no purpose. What is life without purpose?

In my job, I help people. It gives me purpose. I am raising a child, which also gives me purpose. What do teens have?

They are given everything, they work for nothing, they earn nothing, everything is handed to them. They help no one, no one asks them (as a group) to help make the world a better place .... they are not responsible for themselves, or others and we allow that, so they act as anyone might act when put into that situation.

So, are they in Scouts? Can they volunteer? Can they replant trees in the forest over the summer? Can they help harvest at a local farm? Can they volunteer in a hospital? Can they raise money for ????

What do they 'live for' what are they passionate about? What do they get out of bed for? What are they excited about? Where do they feel really needed and valued? Where are they counted upon and relied on? Who depends on them?

This is what is missing in their world; punishment they don't need.

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Jan - posted on 02/20/2013




I'd like to know the same with teenage girls! I am homeschooling mine and she was h.s. in 6th grade and was on the honor roll. Now in 8th grade, she is very hard to motivate and I can't get her to commit to a schedule. It's not so good so far. Something happened to her at her other school and she wont' say what it is. She says don't touch me a lot. I don't mean to jump on your thread here, but I did not know how or where to post this. I did it, becuause like you, I am doing a lot of reminding for her to do her school. Now her computer is the same as mine, yet she says it's too hot, etc. I have also asked her if she needs to talk to someone and she says no.

Lisa - posted on 02/11/2012




This reply is to JuLeah Wilson...

Thank you for your comments...I found them very inspiring, however, at the same time, frustrating.

I am a single mother of a 17 year old boy who, in many ways, is incredible. He is perceptive and wise, he makes decent grades and, although he struggles with motivation, has goals he is reaching for.

However, chores, consistent help around the house, homework right after school....these are things that, due to my schedule and not being available for immediate follow through, don't happen! He gets the bear minimum done at school(carrying decent grades), but rarely has or does strange to me compared to when I was in school.

My son, being from a single-child/single-parent home, KNOWS his value, my need for him at home, and clearly understands that our life depends on his participation in carrying some of the responsibilities. Does this mean he does them consistently? No. Does he struggle with a bit of depression? Yes. Does he have direction? Yes, but he doesn't want it all the time.

I suppose what I am getting at is that I work extremely hard to uphold much of all the principles you spoke of and yet the struggles are still there...I don't have the time to nag, but do check in once the task should be completed and often find, they haven't been done. I am currently a full time student and work part time, my schedule is full but I am home at strange times in the week...enough that we connect consistently whether by phone or in person. I make a point of having a "date" with him each week along with daily chat time.

With all this in place, he still struggles with consistency, follow through, motivation, depression, etc....

More and more I am realizing that he is following the patterns of his peers. He often says I expect too much of him...his chores are 1/5 of what was expected of me and often consist of dishes, trash, his room, and sometimes a room in the house, if I can't get to it. He knows I need his help, which supposedly gives him value, but seems to place expectation he pushes against.

This is an ongoing battle and feel that I lose too often....I feel like it is a battle against all the parents and teens he is in contact with...most of the kids seem to have no boundaries during the week...a foreign concept to me...they stay out until all hours of the night...on a school night! Then, the weekends.....I don't think they even go home if they don't want to! Apparently, none of them do chores or have the expectations of life that I do you create a standard of life, responsibility, and work ethics surrounded by that??

I am up against much more than simply my teen and natural rebelliion, but an entire society that has stunted our children's development! I am so tired and feel very helpless at times....I just hope my son pulls through remembering the values and qualities I instilled and not those surrounding him...

Constance - posted on 04/28/2011




I can't completely help out with the boys but I know that I have my rulesand thatis final word. I know you do too. i know you are tring everything, but I can comment on the teachers.
My oldest has always had an IEP so I have always dealt with teachers pretty closely. When my daughter started Middle School there were issues with one teacher. I asked for a meeting with all the core teachers because one of hr teachers was not doing his job properly. The princpal was there. Whe I confronted him he put his foot so farin his mouth his great- grand children were going to taste his foot lol. Needless to say the principal was not happy. I don't know what she said but he won teacher of the ya that same year. I guess what I am trying to say is yes he boys are 13 but it is the teacher's responsibility to keep you informed if they are not performing well in the class. I would call the Guidence counselor and demand a meeting with all their teachers and the principal. Find out why your children are not a priority to them. It might bea little late in the school year to change a whole lot but if they know you are watchingthey will complain to other teachers. When next school yer begins I would have another meeting to explain what you exspect from them. Don't let the school dictate who is important and who isn't.

Leanna - posted on 04/28/2011




Well our daily routine is a bit hectic. They come home from school, do thier chore, then go to their sport from 5-7m come home, eat, help clean up the kitchen, then do their homework and go to bed. But since they've been slackin, they've stopped going to their sport. I thought this would help by giving them more time, but they've actually gotten worse! Now instead of having the extra 2 hours to complete their stuff, it now takes up the extra time. I have asked their middle school teachers to let me know what homework needs to be done so I know, but they have informed me that they are not babysitters and my boys need to be resposible in getting them finished and turned in. I agree with them taking the reigns and being responsible, but it only happens about half the time. Everyday I ask if they have homework and the usual reply is 'no' until bedtime, then they 'remember' they did have homework after all and they're up til 10! Then they usually have to go to bed whether they're done or not and face the consequenses for not completing their homework. But by the time they turn it in, it is completed. They have joked that girls do it or 'help' them do it in the morning. I'm worried this lazyness will turn into a life-long habit and they will be from job to job!

Theresa - posted on 04/28/2011




It sounds very normal for teen boys. My older sons are 12 and 15. The 12 is totally in that stage and the 15 year old is getting a little better. For us school work gets done as soon as they walk in the door. They sit at the kitchen table (or at the computer if that's needed) until it's done. No TV or music on at the same time. They don't get to go play or watch TV or play video games until it's done. I check their assignment book to see what needs to be done so I know and I can look to make sure it's done. They both do pretty well at the homework thing. That's how we've done it since they started K years ago. Fridays are no exception. Homework needs to be done right after school, then we don't have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend. I know if I let it go it would bed time Sunday night and they' be telling me they haven't done their homework.

As far as showers and teeth. Hygiene isn't very high on a teen's list (at least boys) until high school, then they START to care. My oldest is pretty good, though I still have to remind him to brush his teeth before bed sometimes. My 12 year old will just run his toothbrush under water and call it done if he can get by with it. Both boys need to shower daily. They do at least get in the shower, how well they clean leaves a bit to be desired sometimes. As long as they don't stink sometimes I think that just needs to be let go. It will come in time. Like I said I make them get in the shower, but I'm not going to watch them wash. At least they're getting some of the grime off. LOL Good luck. they will get better at some of this stuff as a couple more years go by, but yes, in the mean time it is frustrating.

Louise - posted on 04/28/2011




i am afraid this is very normal for a teenage boy. I have raised two sons and I found removing there tv's or laptop was the best way to get there attention. If your chore chart is not to heavy then they should do things around the house to help out. If they do not or only do half the job place a black mark against there job and in the evening remove the laptop for half an hour per job not done. This will drive them nuts because this is where there social life is. warn them that from now on this is the way it is and watch as they struggle to get those chores done and properly.

As for the homework my youngest son was forever forgetting to do it so we made a homework book that went from home to school. His teachers would write the homework in the book and give the date it was due in and I would sign it at the end of the day to say I had seen it. i also signed to say that the work had been done and the teachers signed to say it had been handed in. This was really good it also gave me a form of communication with some of the teachers and them with me.

No more shouting at the kids just walk upstairs and take the computer leads away.

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