How to get my 18 year old to concentrate on studying

(20 Posts)
Kazzyv Fri 14-Mar-14 00:26:09

Its now 3 months to A levels (and AS retakes). My son who got straight As at GCSE is just not doing it. Teachers say he is bright and understands the work but he just isn't focussed on revision and learning. I am so worried he is going to mess it all up. I should add he is at a great school who are really supporting him - but really the only person who can do this. Please give me some positive comments - I can't take Antonella else saying its too late

Kazzyv Fri 14-Mar-14 00:27:33

No idea who Antonella is - that should have read anyone !

BackforGood Fri 14-Mar-14 00:30:46

If you find out, let me know......

RuddyDuck Fri 14-Mar-14 04:10:53

You can't make an 18 year old study, any more than you can make him do anything else. you can point out options and consequences, and support him in his choices if he wants you to, but you can't do it for him.

My ds has not been motivated to study for years (now Year 12). He is bright enough that he got several A grades for GCSE which only served to confirn his opinion that studying is a waste of time. Of course, it is very different at A level and he has just done appallingly in his AS mocks.

I wish I could persuade him to study but have decided he needs to sink or swim himself. A friend of mine with very similar issues with her son (who is a few years older) went down the route of micromanaging his study, bullying/nagging/bribing her son to work for his GCSEs and then his A levels, and that worked, he got good grades. He then went off to university and failed spectacularly as he had never learned to study by himself or for himself. I've decided there is a valuable lesson in that.

I personally find it is very hard to sit back and watch my ds not achieve his potential, but don't feel there is anything more we can do at this stage.

Kazzyv Fri 14-Mar-14 06:30:29

Thanks for that - I know u r right - but it is so tough seeing him wasting these opportunities

RuddyDuck Fri 14-Mar-14 08:21:04

sorry, kazzyv I realise that it probably wasn't the positive message you were hoping for! I do think that boys suddenly "get it" but whether they do so in time to do well at A level depends. I hope your son does see the benefits of studying and pulls his finger out asap.

My son is not at all convinced he wants to go to uni, which is fine ( we keep telling him that he shouldn't go if he is unsure as it might be a very expensive mistake) but he's not sure what he wants to do instead. I suspect he'll leave school, get a boring/dead end job and then realise what he really wants to do. But without decent A levels it might be too late....

Stricnine Fri 14-Mar-14 11:29:29

It's never "too late".. even if he decides right now that university is not for him there are other options - College/Apprenticeship/"Year in Industry" type things that might appeal to him more...

I think they do need to be left to make their own path in life as you've already mentioned - too much micro-management can back fire smile

chocoluvva Sat 15-Mar-14 11:02:49

I really sympathise - my DD is the same.

IME nagging is counter- productive. avoiding nagging is horrendously difficult though, as you know

3 thoughts:

As your DS is bright there's still hope that he can pull it round in time.

You could either stop mentioning his school-work completely - taking the pressure off him if that's what you think is getting in the way, or taking away his means of rebelling -if you can manage to act as if you've realised that it's not that big a deal. If he has a strong need to feel he's making his own choices then as a matter of principle he won't want to study just to please you.....IYSWIM He might decide for himself that he's going to apply himself more.

Or, you could be very encouraging and positive.

I totally understand your frustration though.

FantaSea Sat 15-Mar-14 12:46:16

You have my sympathy too - my DD (nearly 18) is the same, and has A2 exams and AS resits starting in May.

I agree, nagging is counter-productive, but it is very difficult not to nag. I have, in the past, tried everything - nagging, not nagging, bribing, offering to help, buying revision guides and offering to go through them with her, talking about how this is only a few months out of her life, how it will help her have choices in the future etc., all to no avail.

In the end, for the sake of my relationship with her and for the rest of the family, I have decided to back off and let her make her own decisions. It was driving me mad. What has ultimately helped me is the realisation that her results and the course/job she then does as an adult, will have no impact on my life or my career. That has given me some perspective and peace.

It is the old cliché - you can lead a horse to water.... I have pushed my horse up to the water and stood over her at the water's edge, but she still won't drink.

It is so exasperating though, I completely understand.

I agree that nagging is counter productive.
Have you tried a whacking great bribe?

Rascalls3 Sun 16-Mar-14 15:13:32

Agree with secretsquirrels I think a HUGE bribe ( if you can afford it) is really the only effective course of action as this stage. Maybe write out the amount you are prepared to pay him for each A*/A/B etc on results day and stick it on the fridge!

tiaramasu Sun 16-Mar-14 15:16:47

What does he want to do after A Levels?
What qualifications does he need?

jessabell Sun 16-Mar-14 15:28:50

Daughter was the same straight a gcse. Thought it was going to be easy. Had to really work in the a2 year. Now at uni in first year. Now admits she didn't work in first year at as levels. Not at a red brick realise perhaps she could have. She enjoying her course where she is so has worked out for her. Have found it rather mentally draining with her especially when you know they bright. Realise need
to work it out for themselves

FantaSea Sun 16-Mar-14 16:22:18

The problem with bribery is that it then means that the teenager is doing the work 'for you' rather than for themselves. I have tried bribery in the past - not for a final grade though I should add. My bribes amounted to rewards for 'working hard' but it was unsuccessful, it just caused more rows.

It is all thoroughly exhausting though.

wine for everyone I think.

tiaramasu Sun 16-Mar-14 17:51:28

I am no fan of bribery either, in any shape or form.

Delphiniumsblue Sun 16-Mar-14 19:24:40

I can't see any point in bribery. Unless they want to do it for themselves it is doomed to failure. He might be better leaving school, getting a job and then coming to realise that he needs qualifications.
If you do nag and/or bribe there is no point in him wasting all that money on university where it is all down to him and you will have no idea how is doing or even if he is keeping up to date with his work.

siren45 Sun 16-Mar-14 20:10:37

I agree that there's absolutely no way you can make an 18 year old sit down and revise if they don't want to. My DD pulled it off in the end but it was touch and go and certainly nothing to do with me. I decided after much heartache that for the sake of my sanity and my family's I just had to let go. I took up jogging, Pilates, dog walking and spent a lot of time staring at nothing in particular outside and driving nowhere in particular just to get myself out of the house so I didn't have to watch her not revising. Horrible horrible time but we all got through it in the end.

chocoluvva Sun 16-Mar-14 20:16:36

so I didn't have to watch her not revising YY to that experience. So stressful.

FantaSea Mon 17-Mar-14 09:36:18

so I didn't have to watch her not revising just about sums it up for me, I can totally relate to that.

Before my step-back I would feel myself getting more and more tense, as she found even more excuses not to revise - it was honestly starting to make me feel physically ill as I was so worried.

I think that as with most of parenting, unless you have lived through this yourself, you would have no idea of the emotional wreck it drives you to. Before all this, when DD was younger and agreeable to revising, I would have thought I would have been able to easily 'persuade' her. Think again....

Goblinchild Mon 17-Mar-14 09:46:39

It's why DS isn't ready for uni yet, alongside other issues that he has.
Until he's completely capable of independent, self-motivated, ustained study and enthusiasm for his subject, there is no point in him going.
He got three good A levels, but with a significant amount of input from me.
GCSE to A level is a big jump, not just in the subject matter, and if he can't do it at the moment, he needs to understand the consequences.
It is very tough on you.

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