Problems with my son - handling it badly(30 Posts)
I made my 11 year old son cry earlier and now feel terrible.
He has recently started a selective boys secondary school and the school have contacted me to say his organization, effort and homework are a concern. The first parent evening was a mixed bag this week. He is a nice polite boy but talks a lot in class, is disorganized and some of his work is not up to scratch.
I'm fed up with nagging him already and the number of pens/coats etc he leaves behind or forgets are mounting up. He forgets his lunch in the morning, his coat even his bag, He would walk out the door empty handed if I didn't remind him - he says sorry when he loses or forgets something and then does it again sometimes within an hour. I spend a lot of time buying new stuff or looking for lost things :-(
I asked him to sort his school bag out today and write out his timetable so we could stick it on the notice board and anticipate what books/homework he needs for the following day. He couldn't really be arsed and was moaning a bit.
Anyway I then got cross and said that if I put minimal effort in at work I'd get the sack and that school was like his job - he needs to just get on with it, get it out of the way and then I can stop nagging him which is bad for me and bad for him. I went on for about 5 minutes about if he didn't like it after a year he could move to a school that is non selective and just sit at the back and mess around but for this year he needs to try and put some effort in. I was in lecture mode. I looked around from the washing up and he was crying :-(
I apologized and said I obviously didn't mean it, I just don't get what is going on with him. I felt almost like I was shaming/bullying him but all I had been trying to do was to get him to put the required effort in because he seems so unmotivated. I have also tried taking an interest and engaging with him about the subject matter too so this is more desperation than anything. I'm a dingle parent and I have another son who has ASD.
We hugged and he accepted my apology and said he understood but he would wouldn't he?
Am I being unreasonably hard on him?
Don't be too hard in yourself, OP. Parenting isn't easy and there will be tears along the way. How is your son coping with the transition into his new school? Has he made friends? Was he as forgetful in his previous school? School is so hard for children. Parents often get too hung up on their kids being 'successful' that they can loose sight of their kids happiness, school is important but it is not the be all and end all.
That said, at 11 he should be a bit more on the ball. Is he getting enough sleep? Can you introduce a system for helping him remember things/get organised? Simply talking to him/nagging him isn't going to do it. I would try and support him though developing this life skill.
Hello thanks for your response.
Yeah, parenting is hard sometimes. We moved house just after he started secondary school and so the transition was a bit chaotic and it just seems to have overwhelmed him a bit. The primary school he was at was very local - 200 metres away - and set very little homework - it was a lovely little community school where everyone knows everyone. We are all missing that I think. But he has made friends after a slightly bumpy start because the school he has gone to had a main feeder school where 75% of his year had come from. He has been invited to a few people's houses and stuff though so that's going well I think. He has his head in his phone a lot which might be the not paying attention issue...
Tell him to stop crying.
Life is tough. You need to pull your weight and get on with it. School included. If more than one teacher has concerns about his organisation then you were right to raise this with him.
I'm pretty disorganised at times and it's not a bad thing to be told to pull your socks up.
Better coming from you than anyone else
I agree, don't beat yourself up. I think you should have a chat with him again, and maybe focus on one thing at a time. Also 11 yr olds still need some reminders about organization, maybe you could make a checklist together of everything he needs each day and stick it by the front door- his responsibility to check it?
I think he might be feeling the pressure a bit, getting into a selective school is great but maybe he feels he can't relax as much as he's used to? That's not a bad thing, kids need to learn secondary is a big step up in terms of time working required etc but maybe you could have a chat about balancing it all, eg if he's able to concentrate on homework each night and really prove he's doing his best you won't moan if he watches tv all Saturday night or whatever? Not necessarily that exactly but hope you get my drift.
You need to give him.strategies, eg laminate checklist of what needs to be done before school - this can be ticked off with a whiteboard pen and cleared again in the evening. Include a list of things needed for reverse trip. Also sit down together and create a homework timetable; all this will make your lives easier.
Thanks everyone. I feel a lot better now 😁
If has been a bit of a step up and a lot of the kids there are very bright and motivated.
My school days were awful so I have no tips although I did turn it around later and get a good degree and am in a demanding but interesting and enjoyable job which is what I hope for him.
I will do a checklist that is a good idea. Homework doesn't seem to have a pattern so that's tricky timetable-wise but he will start homework club 2 days a week and I will see how that helps. He lost his school organiser so he doesn't write down when homework is due which seems sensible to me so I will get him an academic diary. I can't think of another method.
The school may provide another organiser for him, might be worth asking.
The transition can be quite a shock especially when you've been comfortably top in your primary school.
The forgetfulness drives me mad too though, I have 3 DC's and eldest DS is terrible for this. (Other 2 younger DC's are far more organised!)
Perhaps instead of homework timetable then laminate a blank weekly timetable and stick on the fridge/back of bathroom door (basically somewhere he will see it)! and at the end of each day add the homework into it on the day it is due back (eg if it's Monday and his homework is due for Thursday he would write 'English - persuasive paragraph' in the Thursday slot. If homework is set over two weeks print off and laminate two weekly timetables. Then he can see at a glance what is due in the coming days to help him organise himself better.
I am sure the school will give him a second academic diary if you call to explain (although they may charge a few £ replacement).
It's a huge shock going to a selective secondary. You are no longer top dog and there are a lot of people a lot cleverer than you. He may well be struggling with that.
Has he always been disorganised? What's his room like? Can you come up with strategies so that he can't walk out the door without his lunch/schoolbag etc?
Thanks for all the replies much appreciated. I have got him to stick a timetable on the fridge and will laminate (at work!!) an empty one to write the homework on, that's a great idea. I have sent him off with the £6 a replacement planner apparently costs!!
Checklist of other things also a good idea
Sports kit -with all of the correct elements for the sport being played today
He won't be at all happy but I think I am also going to stop him taking his phone for a while and just allowing it in the evening. I don't think he can resist. I caught him on it this morning when he was meant to be getting his kit together and finding his trainers for the kit bag
Could you find out what the school rules are about phones - it's just I was thinking taking it away ' just like that ' might be a bit hard on him. But maybe he could use it more proactively to help himself? E.g. If he has a smart phone use it to photograph timetable and set reminders etc .....
My DS was like this at start of secondary and still is at times, it sounds like you are getting some good ideas together to help him OP - good luck.
For my (as it turned out) dyspraxic DD, I had a couple of sheets of paper on a cupboard door in our hall.
1) Her timetable, she also had a copy in her planner, a copy in her blazer pocket, and a copy by her desk in her bedroom
2) 3 lists of things to check - 1 for the morning, a second for when she got in from school, and a third for after tea. My mantra became 'check the list'
Mantra for school was 'write it in the planner'.
Every day for at least 4 years I asked when she came home from school 'any homework?'. Every day she said 'not sure I'll go up and check'. She never learned to check her planner before coming downstairs having got changed!
A place for everything, everything it its place. No exceptions. Ever.
Separate pencil case for school bag and homework.
Always get stuff ready the evening before. Don't leave it until morning.
Scaffold a bit more to help him get his act together.
You sound lovely, and I'm sure your relationship with your son is great.
Any chance he's dyslexic or dyspraxic?
I've found that those who are either/both struggle wih such things.
Would this help?
Given that he has a sibling with asd, he may have some additional needs that have been under the radar until now?
Sounds to me like he is in overwhelm and is in a major tizz. I remember starting secondary and it's a huge change after primary .
Personally I would go over on the organization and keep a fairly tender eye on him - poor lil bean I do remember those days myself
You sound like you've got a great relationship with a lovely son. Well done him on getting in and well done you for keeping it all going so well. Not easy
There's a big genetic component to neurodevelopmental conditions like asd and dyspraxia. Are you sure your son isn't dyspraxic. Strategies for dyspraxia will likely help regardless. Lists, using his planner. Maybe a key chain or something he can check to see if he's got his pens, coat bag etc as he moves around the school. Dontb,beat yourself up for ranting though. We've all done it. Just take it as a reminder to tread more gently when discussing it in future. It sounds like he's aware his organisation isnt like other kids his age and is quite sensitive about it.
My DH has dyspraxia (unfortunately he did not get the support needed as a child) and we've realised now he needs constant visual reminders for appointments and to even stay on task. He takes pride in doing things around the house and then changes task midway through which leads to him forgetting things all over the place. As I say to DH, whether or not someone has dyspraxia is irrelevant, some people simply need structure and as little distraction as possible, that's from me - who cannot function through big events without lists! Don't feel bad, he needs to know but the tools to be organised need to be learnt sometimes.
Look up articles on executive function and processing speed, maybe your son could benefit from these being assessed. Not only for daily organisation but for exams, perhaps he'd need extra time etc.
School have already told you he has problems in at least one of these areas, so getting an assessment should be easier with their support. They would also have to help him by implementing any strategies suggested by the assessor , likely to be Ed Psych but could be a team, depends how it's done in your area.
The earlier you can get strategies put into place to help him, the easier life will be for him.
One of my DCs was like this. Bright and well behaved but often forgot to take things. I didn't do anything and left him to it. He ended up getting detentions for forgetting thing and going hungry when he forgot his packed lunches but he grew out of it. He is now very organized and proactive about things. He just grew out of it on his own. He was fine for GCSEs, good for Alevel and is now at Uni doing very well. He arranges bills, houses, internships, jobs etc etc all by himself ( as he should do!). I'd love to think that I did the right thing by completely ignoring his scatty'ness when he was younger.
You sound like a responsible parent, I've noticed with my DS he'll speed through anything to be on his phone or any other electronic device. This leads to him getting banned for a week or two.
It's hard to motivate them sometimes, DH wasn't academic, I was. Interestingly it's DH who is saying work hard, you don't want to have to do what I did when if you apply yourself you can do it. You're just being lazy. It's hard for me to understand as I was a straight A student, so his apathy confuses me, like when at Primary school his lack of interest in reading did. I bought him all the books I loved as a child, then DH fished out books he enjoyed, to no avail.
You want the best for your children, at times that means reading them the riot act or explaining why they need to buckle down. As others have said it could be that he's no longer the smartest, or he's fallen in with a crowd that messes about. Have another chat with him about how lucky he is to get into this school. I'm guessing many students go on to good universities. Ask him would he rather be the best at a school that doesn't offer what his current school does. Or would he like to put the effort in to try and be the best instead of giving up so soon.
Good luck OP, it's such an opportunity he has, I hope it sinks in and he makes the best of it.
Your son sounds like he's struggling a bit with the transition - I think it's a case of giving him responsibility for his stuff but helping him put strategies/organizational strategies in place to help him.
So set him up a launchpad near the front door - have a space/box/shelf to keep all his school stuff, so when he comes in from school he has to put his coat/shoes etc, he can take his bag to his room to do homework, lunchbox to the kitchen etc but remind him before he goes to bed everything he needs for the following day has to be in that one spot - school bag, PE kit (with everything needed), lunchbox - so there's no last minute running round finding trainers at 8am. Maybe also have his timetable pinned up there so he can see when he needs his PE kit/swimming stuff/art project etc. If its not there in the morning then he has to do without it, and if he gets in trouble for not having his trainers then so be it, but if you've reminded him before he goes to bed to check his stuff, then it's his own fault.
Even now as an adult, I have a calender in the kitchen with everything on, but I also have this Wilko weekly dry erase board on the wall next to my front door that I put any important events/work hours/appts/things to remember etc so that I can check it as I'm walking out of the door to make sure I haven't forgotten anything, and I still tend to leave anything that I need to take with me at the front door so I don't forget it!
Also in his room, give him a noticeboard that he can stick his timetable and any important papers to and a whiteboard (like the one I linked maybe) that he can put weekly homework on - so if on Monday he gets English homework due on Thursday, he can write it in, and then as soon as it's done and returned to school, he can wipe it off and can see at a glance what he still has to do.
As for lost stuff ... perhaps you can tell him you will replace things a certain number of times or up to a certain value, but beyond that it comes out of his pocket money or he has to do extra chores or something to "earn" the cost? That way he will have to learn that he can't just get infinite replacements if he loses stuff.
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