Tell me about your bright, able but can't be arsed DC's(61 Posts)
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.
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 .
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.
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 sad but realistic!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Could she be deliberately underperforming to be kind to her sister?
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.....
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.
I wouldn't disagree with that.....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Please watch this it is soooo interesting its a talk by Sir Tim Robinson.
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.
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
I think that striking the balance between showing convincing belief in your DC's ability and encouraging them to work hard to achieve their full potential is a hard act. There is, IMO, no recipe as different DC have different buttons.
<Slipping in thru the side door to take a seat in the back row.>
talkin that's one of the reasons I really wanted DS to attend a super selective school.
I wanted him to be somewhere where he's not seen as terribly clever. Just one of many. There will be no pat on the back for an A* because everyone will get an A*.
Instead the work handed out is routinely challenging. No one is expected to find it easy or be able to do it all. Effort is required and celebrated.
But DD has achieved what you wanted in her comp.
I sat at parents evening scanning the predicted grades (an old left hander auditor trick - reading through face down paper) and the whole of her sets are targeted A / A* in all 11 subjects
the real praise will come when they get A* in their weakest, non A level subjects
and then when they excel at the 6th form college up against 1700 other pupils, many of whom have come from selective private schools
and then when they get unconditionals to the uni of their choice.
What has mahoosively changed since I was a kid is that schools (even my local manky comp) value bright kids so do not tolerate bullying of them
on the other hand, schools are now better at picking out "coasters"
remember that I went to a posh crammer in London to retake my As with representatives of every single high profile school in the country (and some from abroad like Geelong) and we'd all been predicted good grades when we should not.
DD does very well at her non selective (ish).
But she is just averagely bright. To get a good raft of A*s she will need to work hard anyway. If she coasts she might not. So she won't.
DS is brighter than that. GCSEs just aren't enough of a challenge so in a different environment he could easily coast and like everyone says, come very unstuck having never developed a taste for hard work.
Where he is, he aint all that . He's not unusual in any way. He's not allowed to coast.
Talkinpeace, your local comp can't be that manky if your DC is sitting 11 GCSEs and predicted 11 As or A*. Many schools don't even sit that many. That's demanding super-selective levels of commitment from both pupils and teachers. Pretty impressive (if daunting).
Wordfactory just to say that attending a super-selective won't necessarily make a difference to your DS! Mine is at one and he's still
I find it very frustrating because I'm naturally less clever but worked really really hard....It is incredibly difficult to know quite how to motivate a child.....
I was the same at school. I managed to wing it with O levels and got good grades, but it didn't work so well for A levels. Did pull my socks up for my degree
Let them fail. Seriously. No exam they take now is the end of the story. They might end up being a few yrs behind their peers in going to Uni etc but if they choose to work and get there it will be their achievement.
It's not like it used to be, they don't have to be on the academic treadmill and have one clear career trajectory. Failure - particularly for a bright teenager, can be very motivating in the end we can't do it for them - just provide the opportunities.
i could have written most of these posts.
all you can do is support,chat,nag whatever until they realise it themselves and sort it.with different children it will be different ages.ds coasted all through juniors and secondary.did ok at gcses ok at a levels (maybe a last minute surge of something...?) and is now studying at uni but picked imo a fairly easy option at a non demanding uni.but hey ho he is happy.the turning point for him which has happened fairly recently is meeting a lovely girl who is extremely motivated and has sorted him out with a part time job.
notagiraffe My kids are not at the local comp, they are at the leafier one just up the road that gets lots of kids into good universities.
That is true. The DD of a friend had to drop out of college for medical reasons. She's decided to do modelling for a couple of years and then go back and do her A levels when she feels like it and her health is secure.
willem I agree that putting a clever DC in a superselective might not have the effect you want (laziness will out) but it seemed to me worth the shot.
wordfactory - I think you took exactly the right course of action with your DS. Obviously there are no guarantees. You took the course of action most likely to result in a favourable outcome.
I could murder my bright DS this week. It started when he refused to come with me to the parents evening tuesday and it has escalated. Now I'm not talking to him
I'm very grown up
The xbox has been hidden and the cables for his computer have been removed since last night. I have been waiting for an apology since 8.30 yesterday morning, his response was "I'm not ready to apologise yet" (this was for a temper tantrum involving school - which included throwing recycling bins/house keys )
I had this problem at school. I never really sorted it out and still struggle with motivation, self discipline, organisation etc.
I agree that it's the case that being "bright" can be a disadvantage later because they get used to coasting and then when you actually have to put some work in, it's a massive shock.
I'm sorry I can't tell you how to fix it, though. If you find out, please tell me
Glove punch of solidarity to Panadbois
Ds is doing his GCSEs. Last night he spent two hours playing the guitar. He just doesn't get it. He has always been top through primary school and secondary school but seems confused by the concept of trying .
Actually he is a chip off the old block. I went to a superselective grammar school (well, they weren't called that in t'olden days) and was in the top sets for all subjects and came top in most exams in the first couple of years. I did not distinguish myself after that. For a start I believed people when they said, "Oh, I didn't do a stroke of revision." (It was cool to not try.) And also I remember feeling that it was "cheating" to make an effort, as if you weren't really any good at a subject if you actually knuckled down and rote learned things.
To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure .
you have my total mental support too.
DD doing her first GCSE mock today.
I think DS is suddenly realising that he might have to start working next year (fingers crossed)
To this day I feel weighed down by my inner sense of superiority concealed by an outer layer of failure
This made me laugh. I know exactly what you mean!
I have one - he's currently upstairs not revising for his Highers, but tomorrow I will make him with the threat of no night out with his pals if he doesn't.
He has been the epitome of bright-but-lazy over the years, but it did seem to change in the lead up to his Standard Grades (as my friend who is a teacher promised me it would) and he seems to be much more focused on getting into university. Some of them seem to need the looming exams to actually get their fingers out and work - some of them will remain lazy buggers all their lives, of course, and some will never be academic or want to go down the academic route, but there does come a point when you have to say "it's your life, I cannot make you study*. They have to want to do it for themselves.
I appreciate the support
I have had my apology. He is now waiting for my acceptance of that apology
I told the teachers at the parents evening 'You can take a horse to water...'
He has support and encouragement. He has love and kisses (when wanted
never) He has good food, clean clothes, safe place to live and sleep. Quiet place to work and study. the rest as you say is up to him.
I worry about his future
Really interesting to read your posts and it has made me realised that there is only so much we can do for her. Something has to click with her and make her want to study. So frustrating though. We got her 'assessment of student progress' scores yesterday and she's under achieving in almost everything. And Lots of 3s and 4s for effort - 3 meaning requires improvement and 4 is poor. What a waste .
Maths she got a 5a, she left primary school with that level so she's achieved nothing in 18 months. Same with English, 5b and science 5a. Her end of year target for English is 7c, maths 6a and science 6a.
The only thing I can think of is this, and it might or might not be helpful (bit of a stream of consciousness) so I'm just going to throw it out there. Coming from a person who was like this at school, and has struggled with further education and (at times) everyday life but now has a job, which I love, and put a lot of effort into, even though I can at times get away with not putting the effort in.
Okay, firstly, there must be something, somewhere in her life that she enjoys and puts effort into. Maybe it's not traditionally academic, maybe it's not academic at all, or perhaps it's something that seems very trivial and a waste of time, for example a computer game. It might help if you can quietly encourage this interest, so that she can experience that sense of what you can get out of something when you put time and energy into it. If it's something you can link to school, like a sport or art/drama/music/writing etc that she could join a club for, then that might help her form a more positive impression of some of her teachers or a new appreciation for a subject. It might also make her feel like there is more value in school work if she can link it to something she enjoys or is interested in. Obviously don't encourage it SO much that she doesn't end up with any time for homework, though.
Secondly, I think part of my "can't be bothered" is a huge tendency to get distracted and generally not focus. Even as an adult, I have to compartmentalise massively or I don't get anything done. I can't work at home (never have been able to) and work I do at home is not as good as work I do elsewhere, mainly because I will spend hours procrastinating before I even start. When I was at college/uni I used to go and work in the college library, and now I have a job that I need to spend extra time preparing for, I do this by going to my place of work and doing it there. If I do have to do it at home then I go into a totally different room than the one I usually relax/spend time in. (and still I end up on mumsnet/facebook for about an hour before I make a start) So for this reason I wonder if it would help to look at a homework club at school for her to help her separate out work time and home time?
Ds is one. Coasted through primary age range, now yr 7, got a massive kick up the backside recently as maths has suddenly become 'difficult' Am seriously considering booking him into prep club on the evening he has maths to do!
I was a bit like this in that everything was v easy up to O Level - no need to work at all. At A Level it was harder but I coped. It was at uni where I came unstuck my first year and ended up with a third - a v helpful tutor rescued me by explaining that getting a good degree was just about putting in the hours, like in a job - he said if I put in 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, like a (not very demanding) job, I'd get a 2:1. And he was right. (Oxbridge)
I had previously imagined that working hard meant working really HARD, all the time, so procrastinated lots. Actually, kids need to be told early on it's not about exhausting yourself, it's just about keeping on top of things, with regular, organised work. Not last-minute, exhausting panics.
Wish someone had taught me that when I was much younger - would have saved me lots of stress.
It's the message I try to get across to my dcs now. No need to knacker yourself or stress. Just stay on top of things. Much nicer way to live.
And stay on top of stuff from the start - it's always much, much harder to catch up once you've got behind.
This is where parents can help, by ensuring dcs don't drop behind initially in subjects they find harder.
All depressingly familiar here ... Ds1, extremely naturally bright - he just 'gets' things easily but also extremely lazy ... Was predicted all A*s for GCSE - came out with a sprinkling of A*s, As and a couple of Bs. Is utterly convinced of his superiority but doesn't seem to realise that the outward evidence doesn't support his conviction (71 boys in his year got all A*s and As so he's not even in the top third of his cohort). He's now in lower sixth doing IB in subjects he likes and is naturally good at and is still arsing around and getting behind - I could tear my hair out in frustration
Ds2 is in the top stream of his school - again is very bright but does the bare minimum and seems to think revision is 'cheating' - he's in Y9
And then we have dd (Y6) who's also very bright but who works hard and oh my, the difference!! I will be amazed if she doesn't end up being anything she wants to be - I just hope she doesn't feel she has to support her lazy brothers in their impecunious old age
Notice how it's mainly boys mentioned...says it all...
Basildonbond you are lucky that your DD has a different attitude - unfortunately our DS's has rubbed off on DD too ;-(
I was like this at school. Left everything till the last minute, then stressed myself for a couple of days and everything was fine and rosy again when my marks were good.
The problem, is that although I did ok, I could have done so much better! If I was a more organised person and not a procrastinator. This habit has continued with me until adulthood and it is now so difficult to get rid of.
I know I shouldn't blame my parents (but I do!). My mum (main carer, dad worked long hours) is an extremely disorganised person as well. So although she always emphasised the importance of a good education, good career, etc, she never really showed us how to organise our time properly, how to have an orderly mind. She allowed us to watch far more TV than what was ideal.
I am desperately trying to avoid this problem with my own DC. Luckily DH is the total opposite!
Timetoask - I could have written your post but I was born in the age where my parents expected me to get married and have children rather than have a career.,..they pushed my older brother but were laid back with me and I was therefore VERY lazy..... I had a conversation with my DD about this because she is very able but show signs of doing bare minimum sometimes or just lack of confidence motivation ...I think sometimes its down to whether their teacher can motivate them too...my DD seems to have switched back on in English because she likes the teacher but turned off in Maths because the teacher in not motivating her...
Unfortunately for our DD her dad and I are both the same but did OK but didn't fulfill our potential...
Same here Time to ask. Takes a long time to unlearn those bad habits. DC are at a school where they are expected to really work - real nose to the grindstone stuff. Sometimes it freaks me out and I want to pull them out and send them somewhere laid back, but I have seen them develop from being idle and complacent, and realise how much I'd have got from a school that taught such self discipline early on.
lotty - when I got a place at an oxbridge college (vague so as not to out myself here) my mum said, shame it was you not your brother (he didn't get in) as you won't need your education and he will. Oh the good old days
Yes! Bread you make a really good point. If you imagine that working hard means long hours, stress, burnout then you avoid it like the plague. However it's actually the opposite - that a little effort put in earlier will prevent the need for so much work that you do burn out. It's a silly catch 22 - I still do it now.
On that note I should really go and round up some rubbish or something else which isn't all the housework (that I'm ignoring) but is something.
Parents' evening today. This should be interesting...
The first teacher we saw (saws subject that he was actually feeling quite confident about) said that he's putting in about half the effort he could.
Every teacher said that he is capable of exemplary work and high achievement but that inconsistent effort means that he rarely produces the goods.
The word "coasting" came up a lot.
Several teachers said that they will not be able to argue the case for putting him in top sets for GCSEs unless he comes up with the evidence within the next few months.
The evening ended with a reality check from the head of year, who reminded him that he is still academically gifted (despite recent appearances) and that he would be of an ilk to be head prefect and apply to Oxbridge if that's what he chooses, but that he would have to start putting the effort in now.
As soon as we got home, he decided to re-do two pieces of homework.
fingers crossed that it continues
I haven't RTWT, but I will tell you what happened with DS1. For a reason that I won't go into here, we had a meeting with his HoY in Y8. She was very clever and got reports from each of his teachers. The ones that were strict gave him good reports, the weaker teachers gave him not such good reports. But, the HoY told him that academic ability is not the only reason for the set placing in schools. Behaviour comes into it, too.
The wording from the horse's mouth made a definite difference to DS1. I won't say that he changed overnight into an academic fiend, but his attitude definitely changed. He's now doing A levels and has just applied for uni. He's on track for As and Bs.
I think in your situation I would ask for a meeting with HoY. Let your DD hear things from them, not just you, the parents who don't know anything !
Very true, and DDs HOY is great, DS head of year is burnt out and everybody knows it (including them)
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