Tell me about your bright, able but can't be arsed DC's

(61 Posts)
sandyballs Tue 12-Nov-13 11:52:52

I've posted on here before about 12 year old DD (Year 8). Thankfully her behaviour has improved since those posts but she still is still under performing in most lessons.

Feedback from teachers say that she's bright and able and when she sets her mind to it she can create some fantastic work ..... but she can't be bothered most of the time.

I've tried calm chats about the future, about how she will be doing exams in just three years, which prob sounds a life time away for her, but it really isn't. I've tried being cross and punishing. She just doesn't care.

She's a lovely girl, funny, kind, lots of friends, is involved with guides and lots of sport, but how can I get her to buckle down at school. It's the same with homework - at the weekend she had to do a PSCHE article on the history of alcohol, when I eventually managed to get her to sit down and do it she spent about two minutes cutting and pasting from google, producing a piece of work which very obviously wasn't her own.

When I look back at primary school she had a great thirst for knowledge and loved reading, homework, learning ........... I'm sad this has vanished and I'm worried about her future. If she was struggling at school but did her best I'd find it far easier than being capable but not bothering.

Any ideas/experience?

sonlypuppyfat Tue 12-Nov-13 12:03:13

We've got one he's 14 we often say it's a good job you're tall and good looking cos you've not got much else going for you! He's so bloody lazy I could scream .

titchy Tue 12-Nov-13 12:08:35

I have two! Number 1 buckled down and revised for end of year 9 exams quite well, now in year 10 has found their work ethic.

Number 2 is in year 8 and I hope follows the same pattern.

I'm stepping back from it now tbh. If their HW is shit their teachers will reprimand them, or not. At the end of the day I won't be monitoring their work at university so they have to develop the discipline themselves. And I'd rather step back in year 8 and 9 and see if it develops in a couple of years, than step back during GCSE or A Level and keep my fingers crossed.

Mosschops30 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:15:32

Dd was very can't be arsed right through school, luckily she went to an excellent high school and they kept the pressure on constantly.
She came out with good grades at GCSE.

Then went to 6th form (different school) and went back to can't be arsed and flunked massively at AS with 2 Us, 1 E and 1D
She was shocked, horrified, embarrassed and devastated.

She's now repeating the year at college and seems to be applying herself much better.
Sometimes I think no amount of shouting/talking/bribing makes any difference.
Unfortunately they have to learn the hard way.
Dd knows that if she fails this 2nd attempt at AS then she will have to leave education and get a job as I can't find her forever hmm sad but realistic!

sandyballs Tue 12-Nov-13 12:18:32

Soo frustrating isn't it. I've thought about backing off but then will I look back I think I didn't try hard enough with her, she's only 12.
But on the other hand I do understand the fact that it has to come from them, to find that work ethic and, if need be, learn the hard way.

Mosschops30 Tue 12-Nov-13 12:19:02

Fund not find

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 12-Nov-13 12:26:57

DNephew was like this, capable, charming, popular, sporty.... lazy. He got by with as little work as possible with a good memory until the last two years at school. Before he was 15 he didn't see the need to exert himself. Suddenly the plodders were overtaking him. I don't know if it was pride or embarrassment but suddenly the penny dropped.

Is DD affected by a bright academically inclined sibling? Sometimes they think well I can't compete, so I'll sit back, go along for the ride, show I'm not fussed.

sandyballs Tue 12-Nov-13 12:40:16

She has a twin sister who works very hard to get good grades, it doesn't come as easily to her but she puts in the effort. She's focussed and quite self motivated. I think this highlights DT2's lack of interest.

I thought it was very unfair at the end of year exams in July that they ended up with the same grades - DT2 managed to wing it despite doing very little work. Not sure that will be the case in year 8. She's still in top sets by the tip of her fingers but that will change I should think unless she bucks up. Maybe that's what she needs to alter her attitude, I don't think she'd like to be moved down.

iseenodust Tue 12-Nov-13 12:47:16

DB was like this as a teenager except not even into sport. DF used to tell him the only job he would be fit for was testing mattresses. DB didn't get his act together until well into his degree. 25 years on he earns plenty as a successful venture capitalist.

BalloonSlayer Tue 12-Nov-13 12:48:20

Could she be deliberately underperforming to be kind to her sister?

Willemdefoeismine Tue 12-Nov-13 12:50:46

I feel your pain fellow Mumsnetters - I have one too (DS - 12) - he's at a super-selective and seems to still be coasting on the memory of his three 11+ passes. He is slapdash and generally has a bit of "couldn't care-a-less" attitude....He got a very mediocre report, although he is obviously not an entirely B/C-grade student as he's managed to get six As (but no consistency....) in different subject over the course of his four terms at secondary school. That would suggest there's some inherent ability there but it's not being used to best advantage...

I am not sure what the solution is.....I think with DS, he was always fiercely competitive when he was at primary school, but I think that was because he was on the top table. I have a feeling that for him, being amongst some super-brains currently, means that he feels he can't begin to compete so he doesn't even try.....

breadandbutterfly Tue 12-Nov-13 15:51:35

Lots of research shows that kids labelled 'clever', 'bright', or worse, 'G&T' see themselves in that way and so achieve less well - because they imagine they are good enough they don't need to work. And if they come across anything challenging that might show they are not as clever as others think, they are more likely to give up than risk trying, failing and making others realise they aren't actually clever.

Conversely, children praised for effort rather than ability go on to try harder when faced with a challenge because that is what they have been admired for previously.

So, in short, don't tell your kids they're bright - praise them for being hard-working. Some of the kids described above sound like they are aware they are the 'clever' ones - that's the downside of top tables, sets etc. I know my dd would probably be a harder worker without the G&T label - it's supposed to help them (by providing appropriate activities) but probably does the reverse.

Willemdefoeismine Tue 12-Nov-13 16:38:41

I wouldn't disagree with that.....

Talkinpeace Tue 12-Nov-13 20:20:04

I was one.
Managed to wing it through O levels.
Came unstuck at A levels.

DS1 has always been a good student but since the end of Y8 he seems to have lost his motivation.

He seems to have given up on some subjects completely (those he doesn't want to continue to GCSE) and in others he is trying to get away with the minimum effort possible.

He has always made good progress in his half-termly reports (the sort of levels that would have led to A*/A grades at the end of Y11) but his most recent report showed he was falling behind in half his subjects so he had to go and see the head of year.

We have given him until the next progress report in January to show some significant improvement. If he doesn't, there'll be a restriction on his wi-fi access (he doesn't have 3G) and potentially less freedom in his GCSE options.

BackforGood Tue 12-Nov-13 23:00:33

I own one of these - he's in Yr13 now - it doesn't get easier until you decide you've had enough, and they can stand or fail on their own.

Preciousbane Tue 12-Nov-13 23:08:49

DS does the minimum, he is in top set for every subject. I have said if he does actually want an Aston Martin DB9 he will have to work for it, he just says stop bothering me Mum otherwise I will put you in a horrible nursing home.

He is quick witted and can be charming if he wants to, I'm hoping that this gets him somewhere as well as grades.

notagiraffe Wed 13-Nov-13 07:59:48

Sandy, you could try a bit of psychological manipulation. Instead of worrying about her, which puts the pressure on her to achieve for your sake, focus entirely on her hopes and dreams. Find out what she's most ambitious for or most excites her in life, and then slip in motivational comments such as 'I know you're capable of working hard, because x is so important to you' or 'I trust you to aim for good grades because I know how much you want to...' or 'Mrs Y (teacher) reckons you are pretty committed to french, because you want to live in Paris, and she's confident you could get a B or an A. I'm happy to test you on vocab to help you get that A if you like. Give me a shout when you want to do it.'

I learned this technique from a parenting book. It's pretty effective, because there's no blame or worry involved, only positive reinforcement that you trust her, that you know she can achieve and that when she does, she's doing it for her own bright future and because she motivates herself, not because she's been badgered into it.

The other thing I do is chat to DC (who always want to be out with friends) and help them plan the week. Mon-Thurs - heads down, and if they finish homework early, then they can skype or game etc. Fri is always a night off. If they have loads of revision at the weekend, I suggest they do it on Saturday morning and then reward themselves by fixing to meet friends for a film or to go shopping. That they reward themselves for hard work, not I reward them, is the key. Though I'm always happy to give them a bit extra for sweets or magazines or a DVD is they have really concentrated.

notagiraffe Wed 13-Nov-13 08:00:48

Precious - your son makes me smile. DS1 has said that to me too. He just stares at me and says 'Budget Care Home' if I'm on his back.

notagiraffe Wed 13-Nov-13 08:04:12

breadandbutter that is so true about kids labelled bright ducking out of things they have to work at. I had that. I got lousy GCSEs because I didn't lift a finger, and was actually only 'gifted' (whatever that means) in one localised area. Stuck with that area for A levels, so got good A level grades but it took me years to learn how to knuckle down to hard work at something you don't excel at. The funny things is, it's one of the greatest pleasures in life, to get even averagely good at something you are naturally rubbish at. I get far more sense of achievement at breathlessly coming last in a 5k race, than I ever did for winning awards for translation.

MrsSteptoe Wed 13-Nov-13 10:08:57

Interesting thread. I've been telling suggesting to DH that he stop telling DS that he's a bright boy as he approaches the 11+ in an attempt to encourage him to work harder to get through the entrance exams, because I think I can see DS getting a bit confused. He is bright, according to his teachers, but not the brightest. Sadly, he wants to be the best at something - anything would do - and he isn't. It's coming hard to him that most people live their entire lives not being the best at anything. Most of us have to just come to terms with just being good at some things (and not good at others).
I think breadandbutterfly's point is excellent: praise them for being hardworking and being brave enough to have a shot at things knowing that they may not get them, not for being clever. If we keep telling him he's clever enough to get into e.g. Dulwich, and he doesn't, he's either going to feel like his parents don't know him at all, or like he's let us down. I'm trying now to just tell him that if he wants to have a go at these schools, we'll support him all the way, and that hard work is the only thing he can deploy to try to get what he wants.
Not sure this really belongs on this thread, actually, sorry to go off piste - but it struck a chord because I'm looking at my poor little 10 YO, who's being on the whole pretty good about working for these wretched exams, but who I fear is just not mature enough to produce the type of English work required.
Sorry, bit rambly!

slickrick Wed 13-Nov-13 12:04:30

I have the same problem.

We have resorted to doing things as we did in my day. No sky TV only the first 4 channels. No computer games or phones. No money unless you work for it (in my DCs case it means A* or merits)
This has had a massive impact on our family. The children actually communicate with us now, behaviour, concentration and energy levels have improved also.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U&feature=youtu.be

Please watch this it is soooo interesting its a talk by Sir Tim Robinson.

Talkinpeace Wed 13-Nov-13 13:55:31

The thing is that kids are labelled as "gifted" when in fact they are just "accelerated"
ie they can pick up basic concepts quicker than other kids at primary
but by mid secondary, theose who actually work hard start to overtake most of them
(think tortoise and the hare)
DD is bright but works bloody hard.
Her best friend (lad) is equally if not even brighter and she has just started whumping him in results because he thinks he can carry on winging it

basically "brightness" will last you till about 14
then hard work has to take over.

Richard Feynmann's writings on the topic are worth digging out.

notagiraffe Wed 13-Nov-13 14:33:43

Talkinpeace yes, and not just that. For the rest of your life, hard workers outstrip laid back bright people in most areas. There are so many additional advantages to hard work: meeting deadlines, getting good at what you're weakest at, not being afraid to have a go at new stuff, being modest about what you might achieve and then over delivering at the end. All of these are far more impressive, long term, than natural flair.

Ds1. 14, year 10. Spent the first 3 years coasting along, putting in no effort whatsoever because all the teachers kept telling him how "bright" and "charming" he was.

Start of this year. New head of year. Explained to him that yes he could coast along and get an average set of GCSE results if he wanted. But that would mean moving down to set 2 in every lesson because the set 1 children were expected to get all As and if he didnt want to work towards that, there was not much point him being in the class.

Overnight change. Although, how long it will last is questionable tbh

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