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to have run out of ideas and just back off now?

(38 Posts)
Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 09:36:33

DH thinks I am but he is not the one dealing with the situation day to day.

Our ds is almost 11 - year 6 so off to secondary school soon. In the past his behaviour has been a huge problem, but we have worked really hard with him and he now mostly sticks to boundaries as regards how he talks to us, listening, doing as we ask etc.

However, school work is a massive issue. He simply doesn't care. I would estimate that he is of above average ability, but he is in the bottom groups for everything. The teachers don't know what to do with him either. He makes minimum effort, has no enthusiasm and often just doesn't finish his work. Keeping him in at playtime has shown no improvements and he will just not produce anything.

At home we create a quiet environment for homework and set the expectation that it is to be done to the best of his ability. He will sit there, often complaining, but produces very little. He could easily sit for 4 hours and produce 4 lines of writing. Then, just occasionally, because he wants to, he will write something really amazing. A whole book of poems or a long story with chapters. So he can do it when he wants to. The same sometimes happens in school.

He has to earn time on electronics at home by making an effort in school. Same for pocket money. Meaning that he usually doesn't get much of either. He doesn't seem to have any internal desire to do better, and providing an external reason doesn't seem to have an effect either.

I don't see what else I can do. DH thinks we have to keep on doing what we're doing until he gets the idea. But I'm worn out with all the fighting. AIBU?

Logg1e Sat 08-Mar-14 10:19:36

What does motivate him?

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 10:25:15

Electronics/tv and pocket money to buy stuff he wants. He has missed trips/parties before due to refusing to do homework and might kick up a fuss initially but later won't be bothered and the consequences are certainly not making any difference long-term. If there's something else I haven't found it. We've even talked to him about he future - jobs etc (when rather frustrated and desperate!)

LaurieFairyCake Sat 08-Mar-14 10:25:45

Don't fight, engage as little as possible. Don't try to reason with him as it's just frustrating for you and 11 year olds can argue in an empty room.

Take the electronics/whatever his currency is away, say once 'you can have your hour on this when the homework is done' and then do not engage again. Do not listen to cries for 'help' or whining of any kind. Leave the room.

He's year 6 - not grown up enough yet to have intrinsic motivation yet at the top of the bloody school so think they know everything. It gets better once they move to year 7.

What I'm giving you advice on is for you not him - endless battles are shit. If the homework doesn't get done then you just proceed with the natural consequence - no going out/no getting computer games til it's done. The crucial bit is you not engaging with the secondary whining.

Silverfoxballs Sat 08-Mar-14 10:28:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LaurieFairyCake Sat 08-Mar-14 10:29:21

There's no such thing as 'long term consequences' to a child - that's a really adult way to think.

Every day is different, they live in the moment - so it doesn't matter if he suffers the natural consequence of missing a party.

So you move into the moment with him - he can't move into an adult way of thinking about long term yet. Consequences happen that day, the homework gets done, the next day the same.

NewtRipley Sat 08-Mar-14 10:31:45

My DS1 is like this to a lesser extent - he is doing well enough to not draw attention to himself though, but with him it's homework. and like your son, giving incentives doesn't work. What will make him sit down and do his homework (albeit slap dash) is not being able to watch a TV program until he has done it.

I really really sympathise about being the one who does the thinking and worrying about it. I have now handed the homework battle over to my DH because we are essentially on the same page about it but he doesn't get as stressed as I do.

I will really be interested in what others say. my Ds is 13

What I will say, is that year 6 is pretty stressful for some children. He may be not trying as a way of not risking failure. Th pressure on some schools for good SATs results unfortunately filters down to the children, in a way that I think is deeply unfair. He may turn a corner when he starts Secondary school - it's way more interesting than Primary and he'll have a chance to do subjects that he really likes.

NewtRipley Sat 08-Mar-14 10:33:37

X post with Laurie.

Thanks for that advice. It fits with my instinct, which is not to engage.

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 10:39:47

Thank you.

I know he doesn't get the long-term thinking - if I've had a rant about that to him I was probably aware it was all for my own benefit! But I do worry about it. He's a bright kid and I would hate to see him fail in the future because of his attitude. I try not to engage with the arguing - he is really good at it and very perceptive. We've had "I'm a human too, you know. You can't tell me what to do, like an animal. I have to sit here and do this and you get to do whatever you want." Then "Why was school invented, anyway? And money? They just make everyone's life difficult." confused

I also have an older dd who could not be more different. I know we've had it easy with her! I don't expect ds to suddenly be in the top sets, I just want him to see the point of making some effort.

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 10:41:34

I just can't imagine him at secondary school at the moment. I've seen from my dd how independent they are expected to be. At the moment we have to sit on him to get anything done.

NewtRipley Sat 08-Mar-14 10:42:44


Laughing at that. DS is a mini philosopher too. How I bite my tongue. Bless him , sometimes i laugh a bit and that breaks the tension because we both know he is arguing the toss. But he is that bit older than yours and that might not work.

NewtRipley Sat 08-Mar-14 10:43:32


My DS surprised me.

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 10:50:57

We sort of laugh about it afterwards, when we are calmer! He apologises for being rude. I tell him I know he doesn't mean it (he can be quite insulting at times), but that it upsets me anyway.

Nocomet Sat 08-Mar-14 11:14:31

Right now only one thing matters, not getting stuck in the very bottom sets at senior school.

Therefore he needs to do some practice SATs papers now, he needs to be absolutely familiar with the layout and how to finish in the time allowed.

(I could be very lazy and HW was generally ignored, but I had getting good marks when it mattered down to a fine art)

DD's year didn't get the writing marks they should have because it hadnt been drilled into them that they had to show off all their fancy sentences even with tbe eorlds dullest question.

Your DS has to undersand that from now until May he needs to knuckle down to some work.

It doesn't have to be a lot. Some topics come up on every paper, practice those.

Praise don't punish, encorage don't nag.

No point in taking screen time off him or trying to barter. He'll just get angry and do even less.

The one thing children resent most of all is being treated as children. All that happens if adults show power over them is they dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate.

You can't force a child to work, they have to realise it's the grown up thing to do (11y are desperate for a bit of freedom and to be treated less like babies).

Instant mood improvements here were generated by letting DD2 stay home in her own rather than go certain things that DD1 was involved in and she got board watching.

DD1 loved to be let loose in town while DD2 did ballet (actually always fetched up reading in the library).

Both liked wandering to the village shop.

Logg1e Sat 08-Mar-14 11:22:43

I wonder if it'd help to stop labelling him as "bright" and "above average"? They are nefarious, difficult to measure and might become a bit of a crutch or an excuse for his behaviour.
It might be better to think about his attitude towards learning (such as him writing books of poetry), his study habits, his self-motivation, respect for his teachers etc.

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 11:26:20

I agree that he digs his heels in if I nag. Also that he needs to knuckle down - that is what we are aiming for but how to achieve this is why I posted.

However, we are not in UK so SATs not an issue I don't think.

I don't present the earning of computer time etc as punishments, more as "you can do that once you have done XYZ". Not that we've had much success so far anyway.

He's not particularly grown-up for his age, still a little boy in many ways, although he does have a "little-adult-I-know-better-than-anyone" quality which has always been there....

MyNameIsKenAdams Sat 08-Mar-14 11:31:15

Does he have a set time to do stuff? So homewotk at that age should be about thirty mins, so he gets thirty minutes to do as much as he can, and if he desnt complete it, he doesnt get any treat (tv time, computer time or an early bedtime - whatever his currency is!)

Leave him to it, no nagging, just him his work and a clock. Go off and do something else.

Follow through on the consequence when he fails to complete it, or celebrate if he does.

Nocomet Sat 08-Mar-14 11:36:19

Yes, you need to work what motivates him and what he enjoys into ordinary familly life.

I guess you have to have faith and reward him for good behaviour you have yet to see.

whitesugar Sat 08-Mar-14 12:43:58

It is hard for parents to get children to do their homework so be assured you are not alone. Try not to engage in discussions which will only give him the chance to flex his muscles. Tell him once or maximum twice that he needs to do his homework and if he doesn't make a move turn off the television and unplug the internet until it is done, no debate. If he has a television in his room remove it. When he starts ranting and raving totally ignore him. I had the same trouble with my DCs and spent far too much time fighting with them.

When my son started secondary school it went very badly and he got really low marks in his reports. It turned out that the homework was not checked by the teachers and along with other issues I decided to move him. I moved him to a school which as far as I am concerned is the only school I have been through with my children where the adults were actually in charge. In the new school if you don't do your homework you get a detention. If you get 3 detentions you get a Saturday morning detention which lasts from 09.00 until 12.00pm. The children have to wear their uniform to the Saturday morning detention and are set 20 mins work from each teacher. My son did this once and never did it again. His marks improved beyond belief. The teachers took no shit from the children but it certainly wasn't a hell hole. Their motto is work hard play hard and they treated the children with respect. I had to go down a few times because he was misbehaving. He got a good grilling but no one flipped out they just made it clear to him that it wouldn't be tolerated and it worked.

The school also has a responsibility to make sure you son does his homework and you should talk to them and ask them what procedures they have in place to make sure the homework is done.

Logg1e Sat 08-Mar-14 12:58:24

whitesugar The school also has a responsibility to make sure you son does his homework and you should talk to them and ask them what procedures they have in place to make sure the homework is done.

That is fascinating, I didn't know that. Where did you get that from?

NewtRipley Sat 08-Mar-14 13:02:20

I agree with whitesugar that if homework is not marked or even collected, and there are no sanctions for not handing it in, that makes it more of struggle for parents who are trying to motivate (secondary age children)

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Sat 08-Mar-14 13:02:52

Maybe explain to him the big fish little pool, little fish in big pool theory.

While he's at primary school, he can probably coast along, and do reasonably well with minimal effort, and occasionally shine, and not take anything to heart. By the last year of school, he's one of the big kids, he feels confident, isn't worried about making a good impression. Getting into good study sooner rather than later is a really good move on your part but I appreciate it seems like pushing water up hill.

At secondary school, he will be in a far bigger pool starting at the bottom and will just be one of many new faces. The teachers won't know him so won't make any allowances based on those rare flashes of brilliance or his pleasong personality. Everyone else in first year will be jostling for position. If he's bottom of all the groups there it'll be much harder to climb up and be taken seriously. It is too easy for staff to label him and not spend extra time on encouraging him.

That might sound bleaker than reality. That time you spent addressing the behaviour side of things paid off. Parenting can be a real grind sometimes. Eventually DS will twig that schoolwork matters too. I do think a lot of boys in particular take a long time to catch on that studying isn't uncool and the more they do, the more options are available much later on. Your DH and you will work better as a team on this one.

whitesugar Sat 08-Mar-14 13:09:14

It was an incredible support and put an end to all the rows at home about him doing his homework. He just did it.

cory Sat 08-Mar-14 13:18:17

I had one like this. Now in Yr 9 and totally changed, due to an insightful subject teacher being able to see his potential and fire him with enthusiasm. He is steadily climbing the sets.

He did go through a settling-in period in Yr 7 where he tried to establish himself as the class clown.

Oneaddoneisthree Sat 08-Mar-14 13:40:10

Oh goodness cory I can completely see ds being the class clown - he already cast himself in that role in fact.

I am not trying to label him as bright etc, just describing what I see. I totally agree that his attitude is the main problem.

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