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How can I give my 11 year old a "childhood"; in London. What can we do?

(126 Posts)
Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:23:22

Please dont get me wrong. I am an adult, I grew up in a different world, in a different time, where kids were kids and roamed free, and where school and homework was a natural part of life. I never questioned things much at that age, I went with "the flow". I also did what my parents told me to do.

I struggle with our 11 year old. We are in London where kids dont roam free, and where you dont just go knock on somebodys door to play or hang out.

I honestly dont know what to do! He comes home from school, is knackered, sits in front of his pc and aimlessly go between minecraft, and youtube videos. He seems obsessed with shooting games, bb guns, guns, and we found him looking at some gory stuff yesterday where people were impaled. He had found a reference to this on a Fails video.

He has a strong will. I cannot "make" him do anything. I struggle to get him to stop playing games, struggle to get him to do homework, he has lost interest in the trampoline, his skateboard, lego mindstorm, wont read books, not interested in good programs on tv. Nothing. Everything is a battle. I fight with him over homework until last minute where he suddenly blows a fuse because he had not done homework. I am incredulous, because I have told him Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday that he has a special homework in for Wednesday, and on tuesday night all hell breaks out because he is frustrated that he has not done it and he will get detention. I tell him he will take the consequences and get detention, and he freaks out.

What am I supposed to do? All weekend was spent on minecraft. I could not get him off that game. In the end I and ds2 went out without him, and just left him at home. He baked an apple crumble on his own, which he eventually binned without letting us have any, because we did not eat it straight away after dinner. We were watching Top Gear together, and he made a point of not watching because we were asking him to join us.
DH took them swimming on Sunday, and he refused to come, so dh left him behind with me. I was supposed to use the time he was away to study, and with ds1 home I couldnt. I tried to get him to do homework, he wouldnt.

He is too big to lift him off his chair and carry him out.

He is refusing to do everything and anything we ask of him, and shouts and screams if we try to restrict his minecraft.

I honestly wish we could afford to send him to boarding school. I have tried so hard to create a happy family life, and I am so drained by him.

I have not bothered to NC, so please go easy on me as I am feeling really fragile about this whole parenting lark.

MortaIWombat Wed 26-Mar-14 10:31:38

Disable the internet?
I'm sorry. I'm not looking forward to this stage either!

Leave Timeout lying around artlessly, open at pages of stuff of interest?

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:33:15

I have left Time Out, National Geographic, Wanderlust, etc out.

We cant disable the internet due to dhs work. Dh finally got around to set up parental controls on ds1s pc yesterday night.

It is terrible. He says he hates school because of homework. I am telling him he would get homework whatever school he goes to.

MmeMorrible Wed 26-Mar-14 10:34:12

Hi OP, I have a DD the same age and I agree it is so hard to start letting her have a bit more freedom. We're in a more rural location though, so it is easier to let her do things like a solo bike ride, trip down to the village shop etc. However, none of her school friends live close by so she doesn't go out to knock on doors like I did as a child.

Does your DS have any close friends nearby that you could setup reciprocal after school hanging out sessions with?

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:36:19

I suggested he spend 10 minutes daily reading BBC News so he can be uptodate with what is happening (he needs this for one of his classes) but he just smirked at me and said "yeah right, as if I am going to spend my precious time on that"

I bought him a £12 fountain pen for school work two weeks ago. He snapped it last night in the rage over homework. This morning, he asked me to go into town to buy him a new fountain pen. I told him to dream on, he could get one with his own money on the way to kick boxing tonight. He left the house in a huff.

Some man he is turning into. sad

WorraLiberty Wed 26-Mar-14 10:36:48

It sounds dreadful but I'm not sure what it has to do with living in London?

I would definitely restrict his screen time so he has to earn it back.

Sure he'll shout and scream but that's what kids do. He'll eventually realise that it won't get him anywhere and that he'll catch more flies with honey.

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:37:48

I wish we could just take his computer away, but he he needs it for school work.

WorraLiberty Wed 26-Mar-14 10:39:56

You can take it away though and only allow him to do school work on it until he changes his attitude.

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:41:51

Worra, the link to London is that he spends all his spare time inside with nowhere to go!
If we were still in Norway, or somewhere rural, he would have places to go. I just dont know what to suggest in this environment as I have no frame of reference!

In Norway I would suggest he go cycling, go for a jog, run down to the shop and find his mates, go out pick berries, go fishing, go down to the beach, the youth club, take his skateboard out to the local skate area, go to the playground (where older kids hang out), climb trees, go see his friends! Here there is absolutely nothing!

Even I sit on my arse with nothing to do, bored senseless day in and day out. All I ever do is cook, clean, laundry, the school run, and drive kids to various activities.

zirca Wed 26-Mar-14 10:47:14

I believe restricting computer access can be helpful with getting children that age to co-operate! At least, everyone I know with teenage DC use restriction of TV/computer/phone in that way!

MrsDavidBowie Wed 26-Mar-14 10:51:40

Why are YOU bored living in London? And when you say London, do you mean inner city or's a big place.

I think you are indulging him...and allowing him to get away with shocking behaviour.I can't see many eleven year olds picking berries grin

MrsDavidBowie Wed 26-Mar-14 10:52:53

And does he have no friends? D's at that age would go swimming, play football..and we are in London, not some rural idyll.

WorraLiberty Wed 26-Mar-14 10:54:14

That's so strange because I live in London and I was literally only saying to my DS(11) yesterday, how lucky we are that there is so much free stuff to do.

He plays in the street with his friends, the buses are free so they can go off in to town to a different park, museums etc.

Sometimes I take him deeper into London to see all the free street entertainers. Almost always if you check your local website, there is stuff for kids to do.

Are his friends restricted in their freedom or are they allowed to get out and about?

soontobeslendergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 10:54:27

Being in London really hasn't nothing to do with - just becasue he has places to go does not mean he would go there. There is too much for them to do indoors to stop them going out. We went out becasue there was no TV for our age group, no computers etc and we had no phone. If you wanted to speak to spmeone you had to go to their house to do it.

I don't know what the solution is. We live in a nice area and my two at 12 and 13 could have a lot of freedom. They prefer to be in. At weekends in decent weather we will kick them out and lock the door for a couple of hours!

You say he does kick boxing, maybe just get him in to more activities so he has less free time to waste?

We have a rule that homework must be done on the day it is given. If it is a longer project type thing then it must be at least started on the day it is given. We take away the power cables or controllers for their games consoles if there are any issues.

To be honest, he sounds as unhappy as you are, maybe you need to have a frank, no shouting or blaming talk about what is going on in his life, write up a contract? Find one behaviour that you want to change and reward him when he complies?

I think at that age despite them pushing the boundaries, they actually want to be told what to do as it shows that you love them.

I speak here as someone whos 12 year old threw a paddy this morning as I said he needs to go to the gym after school as per our agreement and he wants to go to a friends to play a video game (he'd get 20 minutes before friend has an activity he needs to go to) and then need picked up 10 miles away. If he doesn't show up at the car at pick up time he is in deep doodoo.

DebbieOfMaddox Wed 26-Mar-14 10:55:20

You don't have to give him the network password, though, do you? You can change the password daily and he only gets that day's password when [whatever].

IIRC, aren't you near(ish) Richmond Park? That gives you cycling/jogging options, and there's a good playground by Ham Gate (although I agree that there aren't many 11yos on it). That would also put you nearish to the Wetland Centre where membership is paid but there are lots of wandering around observing wildlife opportunities (including sessions for children -- again, he's getting on the oldish side for many of those, but not all).

TantrumsAndBalloons Wed 26-Mar-14 10:57:08

We have always lived in London and my dcs always have things to do.
They go to the park, on bike rides, to friends houses, ice skating, football training, the astro pitch at the park, DS1 loves camden market, dd prefers wandering round Westfield all day, they do to Costa and make 1 drink last 3 hours, they go swimming, they do loads of stuff.

They also spend a lot of time online

annielewis Wed 26-Mar-14 10:57:29

I disagree that this is to do with London - I grew up in rural location and there was nothing to do - in London it just needs a bit of organisation/effort. He already goes kickboxing? Fab! Does he have friends from there that you could invite for tea before they go - or on another day to hang out?

Where in London are you? There are skate parks/normal parks everywhere!!! He can still skate or play at the park! It sounds as though you are having trouble loving London as much as it being his problem! Have you got much support in the way of family/friends? How long have you been here?

In the meantime I would move the computer to a public location ie the kitchen table so you can monitor what hes up to and I would limit time hes on there, agree with others that he will kick off and shout - but you are his parent and he wont' always like what you do but it sounds like he needs to break the gaming thing...

Good luck

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 10:58:36

We are sort of suburbs, but there is nothing around here. There is nothing of interest. He played cricket last year. Does not want to this year. He has started doing kickboxing twice a week. He did Tae kwon do for three years in Norway, and this is the closest thing to that we have found locally.

How am I letting him get away with this behaviour? What do you suggest I do? With each and every incident of bad behaviour we speak to him calmly, we explain why his behaviour is wrong. We put restrictions in place.

We have gone through temporary bans, banned I phone over time. We have banned the play station. We have told him he has one hour of screen time daily after his homework is done, this worked for some time. We try to trust him, but he breaches this trust.
We have been hesitant to take his computer away (It is a desktop, not a laptop, permanently connected with keyboard mouse and screen, so not easy to take away and give out again) because he does need it for school work.

soontobeslendergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 11:00:57

you dont need to take away the whole computer, just take the power cable if required.

Quinteszilla Wed 26-Mar-14 11:01:52

How do you get children to do their homework?

I have tried getting him to do it the day it is given. He just does not do it. I cant force him. If he has decided to not do as mum is saying, he wont do it.

Wetland center is boring. Even my animal and bird loving 8 year old is bored by it.

He just wont go to Richmond park. He just behaves like a stubborn 3 year old, only he is 11 and almost as tall as me.

He just started kickboxing so no friends there yet.

NotCitrus Wed 26-Mar-14 11:02:06

I don't think this is a London thing. I live in part of London often written off as 'crap' and the local 11 year olds do most of what you list from Norway, with the exception of the beach.
It sounds much more like a kid without friends.

Change the WiFi password every couple days and only tell him what it is once enough homework is done and/or he does an activity with you.

Is it just lack of time stopping you exploring? Friends with older kids have had fun doing the London Loop and Green Chain walks round London, interspersed with visiting all the free museums and nature reserves they can find and looking up.all local community events. There are plenty of things to do, just possibly harder to find than in Norway (I grew up there for a few years).

DebbieOfMaddox Wed 26-Mar-14 11:06:27

So your problem isn't that there's nothing to do in London -- there are plenty of cycling/jogging opportunities, for example, which was one of the things you were complaining about not having -- it's that he doesn't want to do it.

soontobeslendergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 11:06:56

I think maybe try it in the reverse as rewarding instead of punishing?

I don't restrict computer time as long as all the other things are done.

i.e. they need to go to sufficient activities (that they enjoy) to keep fit and meet real people. Homework must be done, bedrooms/playrooms must be in a decent state with all washing in the basket. Shower must be had every morning and school bag must be packed for next day. If all that is done, then they can have as long as they want on games in the time that remains.

At the weekend, unless we have family plans, they are "encouraged" to make arrangements to see firneds for a bit on one of the days - if that doesn't involve an activity e.g. swimming, then they must do that on the other day. They can go on screens in the morning until about 10/11am and then none until after Dinner but then it isn't restricted. It mostly works for us. They go to Scouts, Life guard training, Judo or the Gym. They also go to CoderDojo when available and No2 son does Music for an hour a week and No1 son does an art class.

nobutreally Wed 26-Mar-14 11:07:24

OK, my ds is 10 & we are suburbs rather than London 'proper', but I think the idea of the difference between my (freerange) childhood, and his chime a bit here.

We have an allotment which was my attempt to bring that freerange stuff in. He's certainly not always keen to go, but it's ended up that 2 of his mates families have also taken on allotments. They can run freeish round the allotments/make dens/throw sticks into the river etc as well as occasionally help plant/weed/harvest. But maybe taking on an allotment is a bit of a big ask smile

Are there outdoor things he does enjoy? Skateboarding? Mountain biking? Climbing? I can see that dh and ds are going to start doing more outdoors stuff together soon - is there a male bonding option (maybe something ds2 isn't old enough to do?) There would all be day trips, but perhaps a day of time with him & dad would be a good thing?

I am also strict on screen time - ds needs to 'earn' their screen time in the evening/at weekends: by getting their homework done/piano practice/helping tidy etc. Is it worth - however painful - deciding on some screen time limits/constraints (eg not until you've done x/y/z?) I may be speaking from the 'easy end' of tweendom though there...

Wrt homework ... what happens if you don't nag him? Would getting into trouble at school because he hasn't done it/done it well enough be a motivator? I feel like I am still holding onto homework as 'my' responsibility atm but am conscious I need to be changing that as ds heads towards secondary school.

Finally - I am HUGELY impressed he made a crumble on his own - that's fab! How about encouraging that cooking flair and potential?

You can't say there's nothing to do in London!! OK, you can't free range ... but there are a few things going on smile You sound exhausted and fed up. I reckon maybe it's time to devote a few weekends to making the most of London to re-energise. Me & the dcs do something where we all put slips of paper in a hat, and it can be ANYTHING - as long as not too £££! Then everyone HAS to do whatever is pulled out of the hat. My two will do things they normally hate, on the offchance that their favourites will come out of the pot later in the day/weekend. I'm not saying he'd go for it st away, but worth a try? Get time out lined up, so you can check out some good options first...

soontobeslendergirl Wed 26-Mar-14 11:10:40

I agree you cannot force him, but if he sees the reward of having free time doing what he enjoys and also realises that it is a lot less stressful having his homework done, maybe it will dawn on him and he will comply without punishment?

My eldest now does as much homework as he can in the car going home as he loves being home with it all done!

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