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Postby Bubba » Sat May 17, 2008 9:16 am

How about a discussion on how to deal with your teenager?
My oldest is 14 and is smart as a whip, but he doesn't turn in homework so he is failing three classes (again). He was a straight A student in Elementary school but has gotten very lazy since entering Middle school. I've tried taking away priveledges, including hunting, with no success.
What do you all do to keep the kids motivated in school? I'm at my wits end with this kid.
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Postby slingshot » Sun May 18, 2008 9:17 pm

Hey Bubba,

I have a 14 year old son also. I have another boy that is 7. My 14 year old is not interested in school either. He is an A/B student, but could make straight A's if he didn't forget to turn in assignments.

In my opinion, the biggest part of the problem is with the schools. It sounds to me like your son is bored out of his skull! Just like mine! I'm not sure about schools where you live, but here they have almost eliminated P.E. and recess entirely.

Boys need activity! Boys as a general rule learn better in a hands-on environment. Our public education system is becoming more about endoctrination than education, and it is sad to say, but they don't even recognize the difference beteween a boy and a girl!

The bottom line is that there is no easy answer. How do you motivate a child to learn in a broken system? You want him to get good grades. That will be important if he is going to college, and college does open some doors.

To me what is more important however is that he learns. Good grades on the report card and real learning are not always synonymous. The ideal situation is to have both real learning and good grades.

I seriously considered homeschooling my kids awhile back, but for a multitude of reasons decided it wasn't the right thing for our family. If you can make it work for you, it could solve a lot of problems. I think my boys actually "learn" more at home than in school.

I am pretty strict when it comes to grades vs. play time. If the grades aren't what I think they could be and/or the homework and reading haven't been done for the day, he isn't going anywhere unitl it is done.

I also sometimes reward him for when he does perform well in school. I think this is important, but I often forget to do it. More positive reinforcement for good performance is something we should probably all try to do a little more often.

Be sure to recognize good performance with a pat on the back, a bear hug, "I'm proud of you, son" sort of thing. Then take him hunting or out to do something special as a reward.

Just my two cents worth.
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Re: Teenagers!

Postby GeneralHavok » Mon May 19, 2008 11:59 pm

Bubba wrote: I've tried taking away priveledges, including hunting, with no success. What do you all do to keep the kids motivated in school? I'm at my wits end with this kid.

I don't have a teenager at the moment...but I was one once, and I was a youth minister, and I taught middle school for years. Here are some thoughts:

1. The things that you're doing will motivate some kids, but apparently not that kid. There are other things that will motivate him, and you need to figure out what they are. My parents had no idea how to motivate me...they never figured it out. Now that I'm all grow'd, I can say that I would have been motivated by some genuine fellowship with my father. External motivation didn't do the trick, but I would have jumped through any hoop to please him if I thought that pleasing him was possible. Figure out what motivates him, and it will be much easier.

2. Recognize that he's got his own brain. There may be issues over which you, in the end, will have NO control. That's a difficult idea to accept, but it's a possibility.

3. Kids aren't good at long-term cause-and-effect thinking. It could be that he doesn't really understand the consequences of his actions...how doing things differently will be better in both the short AND the long run. When I realized that I was in danger of not graduating from high school simply because I skipped too many classes, I stopped skipping classes...immediately. There was no struggle, and no transition. I decided to stop, and that was that. Having a clear picture of how life works makes a big difference.

4. If there's a way to connect his actions with how they affect other people, he may be motivated to change. Teens want to make a difference, but can have trouble caring about the consequences to themselves. Oddly, most don't want someone to suffer because of them...so if their actions are making life tougher for someone (other than you, of course), tell them.

5. Be patient. Recent studies have shown a biological link to maturity. A covering grows over your spinal cord when you're between 13 and 15 called the myelin sheath. This is what gets damaged by transverse myelitis and multiple sclerosis. Those without a myelin sheath have great difficulty, or inability, in putting themselves in someone else's shoes. There's nothing you can do to speed this up, but knowing it can help you be more understanding. We'd never punish our dogs for doing what dogs do naturally, but many parents punish their kids for being selfish, self-centered, and inconsiderate. Many are surprised that, at about 15, their kids seem to "pull themselves together" and "grow up quickly"...but it's probably just that they're finally able to think like an adult, where before they could not.

6. Pray for your children daily. Let them know that you're praying...not that God would miraculously change their behavior, but that God would help them become the young men and women that they should be.

We're all looking forward to the future...but none of us more than the giant, evil robots.

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Postby Amy Fales » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:39 am

I have a 13 yo son. My aunt was a schoolteacher for 35+ years. She said that from the ages of 13 or 14 until almost 16 are the years that children naturally switch from learning all about the world and how it works....to all about how they fit in that world. Grades naturally drop as the students begin to focus on society.....whether the big picture, or their own social networks.

At the same time, classrooms bulge to the point where teachers do their best to keep chaos at bay, AND parents are struggling to make the bills. The children often feel like they're being "managed, or shuffled", and may begin to wonder at their importance. How do they stand out from others? And most importantly, will they be accepted?
(intro to peer pressure)

My parents were extremely strict. Anything less than an "A" got me grounded. I actually spent my whole year of 8th grade grounded! So, I worked hard at my schoolwork just so I'd be able to get out of the house. At the time though, smart kids were picked on. I was praised by my English teacher, only to have spit-balls launched into my hair, and "birds flipped" toward me as I walked through the halls.

Looking back I can say that if I was really close to my parents, and they shared the why's with me instead of the "Because I said so."....it would have made all the difference in the world. I would have loved to have felt comfortable enough with them to share the conflict I was having between being a good student and being accepted.

But, my parents were so busy with running a business, and raising my toddler brother, that their loving attention to me was usually a reprimand. I had gotten so used to that, that any time they tried to have a heart to heart.....My heart was hardened and I was suspicious.

I've also read that the surge of hormones, combined with drastic brain growth during those early teen years creates a state of mind that is best described as "insanity". It is just enough for them to make it through a day! It is exhausting, and many doctors suggest teens need 10-12 hours of sleep instead of the standard suggested 8 hours.

Understanding this has helped many parents I know, including myself. Developing a close, and true, relationship prior to the teen years is important....so they're more likely (although not guaranteed) to lean on you.
If you're already in those years, without a close relationship....consistant efforts at building a relationship will definately help. Discussing the why's of the world helps too. This is the very stuff they're trying to understand. Sometimes it helps to discuss the why's of things that are removed from them first....so they don't feel like you're suddenly trying to be helpful for manipulative reasons.
Politics, business, sports....whatever they seem to gravitate toward is somewhere you may begin.

I hope this helps someone....we're all so different with such a variety of backgrounds....different things will work for different families.

I really do believe a consistant show of love, and respect is the best place to begin though.
Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established
Proverbs 4:26
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Postby Bubba » Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:47 pm

We have always had a close relationship and we do talk about grades, college, the future quite a bit. He just doesn't care about school.
He is now 16 and is still failing the classes that are boring to him. English, History, and Spanish being the top three at this time. I told him that he's now on the five year plan and he didn't like that idea at all but right now it's his reality. He has lofty goals and sees himself driving a flashy car, living in a big house, and having everything he wants as an adult. I've told him several times that a 1.6 GPA isn't going to get him there. The other night he actually mentioned dropping out for the first time, then said he knows he can't. We had a long talk about that but I'm worried that that is the direction he is taking.
I'm lost, I can't motivate him, don't know what to do next.
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