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to find this extreme behaviour and not have a clue where to go from here?

(98 Posts)
NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 04:32:52

I honestly don't know if this is within the realms of normal. My DS is 9 and I am at the end of my tether with his behaviour regarding school work. His behaviour in general has always been very, very difficult to handle but we have made huge progress and although he is still not easy, the consistent approach we have used has paid off and he mostly sticks to boundaries now.

There are still a few areas causing problems and the main one is school work. He goes to school but that's where his involvement in learning ends. He is not keeping up with the curriculum and needs a lot of support from the teacher - fortunately for him the class is small so this has been possible. He doesn't resist too much at school, it's more zoning out. At home he refuses to do homework, we have a homework routine and I make him sit at the table. He will cry and whine and say he can't do it, and at other times just stares into space. He can sit for 3 hours without writing anything down. He is kept in at play time to do the homework every day but still doesn't finish.

He has had several assessments but everything seems to be within normal limits. He is a bit dreamy but not enough to be diagnosed with ADD, spelling and maths not great but not too bad etc. He did co-operate (mostly) with the assessments and was able to do everything as well as they expected from his age. His ability seems to be about average, on paper. I personally think he is above average, and his teacher agrees, if only he would actually do something to show that.

This is not a new problem. but is obviously becoming a bigger problem as he gets older. What can we do? I have tried ignoring him and not making it into a battle, sitting with him, taking away tv/computer, and nothing has made any difference.

boredSAHMof4 Fri 25-Jan-13 09:44:42

9 is an awful age IME!!
This too will pass

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 09:46:20

I have thought about home-ed but I really don't think I could do it. I wish I could. He saves his worst behaviour for me (all guards down) and I can't imagine it working. He is slightly better with DH but he couldn't do it as he works to support us all. DH is however fanstastic at doing things with DS at the weekends and on holiday.

I just remembered something DS said to me - "my teacher just thinks everyone should love reading just because she does, she thinks that's how I should want to spend my time but that's just work, work, work and a waste of my life."

FauxFox Fri 25-Jan-13 09:52:03

Have you asked him how he feels you could deal with the homework situation? Not quite the same but my DD (Yr3) was causing me no end of grief trying to avoid homework tantrumming, refusing, doing it really badly etc and I made her a hot choc one day and we talked about it - Can't change that it needs doing/how to avoid all this drama etc.
It turned out she feels weekends should be a complete break from school work, she suggested she do it after school in the week. I was amazed! I had assumed the last thing she would want to do after school was more schoolwork (she finds it hard to focus and get things done at school like your DS). We are 3 weeks in and it's a dream! HW is set on weds and she has 2 things to do, she does one piece on weds eve and the other on thurs or fri depending on social stuff and we don't have to think about it at all on the weekends!
Good luck with everything - it's hard when the school system doesn't seem to fit your child very well isn't it?!

YorkshireDeb Fri 25-Jan-13 10:01:32

From a teaching perspective I'd say it's never worth having a battle over homework & agree with the people who say don't do it - but I appreciate your son's school might not share this perspective. I also think the talk to him suggestions are worth trying - we started a new behaviour system last year that involves talking to the children about their problems & encouraging them to help to find a solution. Some children have really flourished & found it almost empowering. On a side note though I'd just ask if he plays 'age inappropriate' computer games? A lot of children in our school who have similar problems to your son play 18 games at home & a mental health professional once explained to me how damaging this is but I think a lot of parents don't realise. X

EmmelineGoulden Fri 25-Jan-13 10:03:17

Generally speaking it doesn't sound like much is going to change at school until he's older and feels driven to engage for himself.

He sounds like an unschooling candidate - curious and determined but turned off by conventional schooling. You say you don't think you could home educate because he saves his worst behaviour for you, but if you weren't trying to school him, but instead trying to facilitate him learning by following his passions and interests for a few years, could that work?

It wouldn't need the same skills as trying to follow a school curriculum, but it's asking a lot of you and you'd need to think hard about whether you felt the approach was right and whether you had the facilitation skills and resources for it. Could you take him out of school for a term and try it - with an incentive for him of being able to keep it up if the time is productive for both of you?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:04:10

Thanks fauxfox and glad you are seeing such improvement. DS has homework set every night for the next day and occasionally something for later in the week (which he never remembers about) and the only thing he has to do on weekends is read for 45 minutes each day. He has to read certain books during the week so at the weekends we let him read whatever he wants (usually some kind of encyclopaedia rather than a novel). His teacher is not too happy about his choice but we have ignored that....

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:09:42

I think if I asked him he would say something like "watch tv first then have dinner then do homework", which means it wouldn't get done! We have tried different routines and the biggest tantrum comes with turning off the tv so tv never goes on until everything is done!

He doesn't play 18 games - super mario etc on the weekends only.

Thanks for the link emmeline - I do think it is really interesting but such a big step and I'm just not sure. I did once ask him if he would like to stay at home (he knows one boy who does) and he said no (the thought of all day with me?).

musicposy Fri 25-Jan-13 10:13:11

Just a thought, there may not be any worst behaviour to save for you if he was at home all the time. It sounds as though most of the worst behaviour is centred around issues with homework and what the school is demanding. You may find the problems just don't exist once school is taken out of the mix.

He sounds like the kind of child who would thrive with an autonomous education - I know a few boys just like him in the home ed world who are happy and thriving and their parents are still sane! You could ask more over on the home ed board. But I do agree you need to want to do it because it is a full on 24/7 thing.

musicposy Fri 25-Jan-13 10:14:12

xpost with Emmeline!

diddl Fri 25-Jan-13 10:15:08

Why on earth does he have to read for 45 mins on a Sat & Sun?

That´s a lot imo!

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:15:12

As it is I can't answer many of his constant questions so imagine how many more there would be if he was home all day!

Example from yesterday: (related to going to a baby's baptism and talking about how some people baptise babies, some people wait until the person can decide for themselves, some people do neither) "So if you weren't sure if you wanted to be baptised, and you got really old, then you died, would you still be able to go to heaven?" (Ummm....)

I think there would be lots of "why don't we google that?"

ukatlast Fri 25-Jan-13 10:22:49

You may want to get him checked out by a behavioural optometrist. It could be his eyesight - he may be able to see but his eyes may not co-ordinate, track properly leading to inattention, lack of desire to do desk tasks.

Good luck - it made a real difference to one of mine who is now a bit of a swot. Treatment is fun exercises and also helps builds self-esteem I found as it gives them an explanation for why they found desk stuff so challenging in the past.

willyoulistentome Fri 25-Jan-13 10:27:19

Marking my place too.. my 9yo Ds1 sounds just like yours. Homework is HELL in our house. I do think my son has very low self esteem. He will also NEVER join in with anything. Loves playing football in the garden ( or the house grr.) but refuses violently to go to the local Saturday morning club. I can;t get him to DO anything. He was picked for the school athlectics team in a local competition and cried and whined about it instead of being pleased.

He just won't ever try very hard at anything. Any time he has to make any kind of concerted mental effort he just cries and says he 'caaan't' He wouldn't even sit and play with lego.

I have also resorted to trying to frighten him into getting into gear by warning him he will never pass any exams or find a job with his attitude. I think it hit home, but instead of getting in gear, t just made things worse. He now wails -"I'll never get a good joooob".

I am despairing! HOw the Hell will he cope at seconday school?

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:30:54

Thanks for info ukatlast. Not sure how he would take the suggestion of fun exercises though - he opposes almost everything I ask him to do.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:35:13

willyoulistentome my ds won't join in with anything either, UNLESS he sees a reward he really wants. So if he's at a party, for example (doesn't usually want to go but occasionally does) he doesn't see any reason to play the games. But, once he spotted the big bag of sweets which was the prize in a dancing competition, decided he wanted it and proceeded to do the most outrageous, noticeable dancing you could imagine. He won the sweets. So I think these kids pull it out when it suits them!

Callisto Fri 25-Jan-13 10:40:05

I would consider HE too. Just bescause his behaviour is worst with you at the moment, this may not be the case if the pressure from school is off. And I know all the arguments about career choice etc, but tbh with individuals like your son formal qualifications probably won't figure much in what he wants to do. And if he does want to be a vet for eg, then he will be able to take exams without having to go to school. Check out the HE board and see what people say there.

Finally, he is very young still. I would not force him to do homework whatever the school says.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 10:46:40

I will check out the HE people. I have a lot of admiration for them and agree with many of the reasons.

Mumsyblouse Fri 25-Jan-13 10:56:15

One of the reasons you are having these problems is that the school is very heavy on homework, I hate the homework mine do, but it's a lot less than that, usually one lot given on a Friday due next Wed, plus the usual reading/spelling. My dd1 resists a lot, but the school have set up a homework club and so if they don't complete it they have to stay after school, and this is perfect for me, as it takes the heat out of the situation.

I would not be battling daily with a 9 year old to complete homework, I'd be going in and discussing how daily homework is making home life a battleground and that you are simply not doing more than 2 x 20 min a week or whatever and then you will leave the teachers to deal with it. Or, set the timer for 20 min, then what hasn't been done doesn't get done.

My dd2 has had difficulties with her reading/spelling homework and in the end I simply stopped doing it as I don't want to have a 30 min tantrum battle every night. It was not at the right level, and she was tired. We do the weekly homework and the reading a few times a week and that's that.

I would commit to what you think reasonable and abandon the rest, and explain to the school, this is about emotional/family welfare. They might not like it but there you go, it's ridiculous to have this spoiling your home life for no good reason whatsoever.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 25-Jan-13 10:59:01

Agree it would be a very big step Near. I post it only as a suggestion to consider. It's not something I've done, and I don't presume to be able to tell what would work for your son or you.

stargirl1701 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:12:44

Are there any schools near you with Forest Schools programmes? That would be a perfect solution.

stargirl1701 Fri 25-Jan-13 11:14:35

Have you read Nutureshock? Some very interesting research in there. 'How Children Fail' is also very good.

NearMissAgain Fri 25-Jan-13 11:40:44

Will look at both of those, thanks. No Forest schools sad

Hyperballad Fri 25-Jan-13 13:16:16

Willyou, eek! Please don't try and frighten your son again! I'm sure you won't but a 9yr old should not be worrying about not getting a job. At all. Ever.

Build him up, tell him he CAN do anything in life if he puts his mind to it, he can achieve anything!

Try to find the positive way of explaining things rather than the negative.

I know it's easier said than done and takes energy and time but it is so important we build our kids up and inspire them not knock them down and worry them.

Hobbitation Fri 25-Jan-13 13:27:47

I also hate how some people think any manual work = dumb, not using your brain. Whereas sitting in the office staring into a screen is highly intellectual??

I was very academic at school but still vastly prefer practical work with my hands, so much more satisfying.

BridgetBidet Fri 25-Jan-13 13:28:48

I did this. It was because my parents only really paid attention to me when I was doing something negative. If I tried it was never good enough to be praised it was just ignored so I played up to get the attention

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