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Wishing I weren't a parent: what works for a completely unmotivated child?

(67 Posts)
JKRowlingSuperfan Sun 27-Sep-20 19:10:06

NC'ed for this as I'm ashamed of it.

DD is 10. She's mostly a nice enough child with other people, though prone to tantrums and strops when everything doesn't go precisely her way. She's social, has friends, seems to be reasonably behaved at school (or at least she was till March, it's too early to say what difference the lockdown may have made).

But she won't put any effort into anything, doesn't care about anything, isn't interested in anything. With the exception of Minecraft and Roblox, which she would play all day and all night given the chance. It's just soul-destroying and pointless: she's bright and could do well, but doesn't care enough to try. Her writing's appalling, she has to be pushed to pick up a book (though she does like being read to), she's good at maths but makes silly mistakes because she's just rushing to get it done. She plays two instruments, and could be good at one of them if she tried harder: she does just enough practice to keep me from cancelling the lessons. I'm sick of the sound of my own voice telling her that it's her choice whether or not to play an instrument but if she chooses to play, she has to practice.

Lockdown made it much worse, before that we could get her interested in cooking or doing things around the house, but now she just says she'd like to do X "but not now". She doesn't seem to think ahead at all so it's hard to devise any incentives that work.

I'm tired. I've had a rough ride through lockdown, my job is safe but I'm managing a team that has been very busy and stressed. No-one except DH gives a damn about me, and he's also struggling with DD. I desperately wish I hadn't had DD: at the moment I look forward to the weekends, and they disappear in a series of fights, so I get to Sunday evening wishing I'd just stayed at work. I'll be honest, I don't like her any more. She's arrogant and rude to DH and me, and unless something changes radically she's going to be an adult who contributes nothing worthwhile to the world. I can't see how we're going to survive the teenage years if it gets worse than this.

OP’s posts: |
Ohalrightthen Sun 27-Sep-20 19:15:44

Sounds like you need to take Minecraft and Roblox away for the foreseeable, and have a serious talk about her attitude. Then stick to your guns.

GypsyRoseGarden Sun 27-Sep-20 19:21:01

remove Minecraft and Roblox - completely - let her know that this is a 3 month thing so she doesn't expect it coming back any time soon - take her to a bookshop and let her know that she can pick a few books that she likes ... and stick to you guns

I kid you not, Minecraft for some bizarre reason drives crappy crappy crappy behavior - take it away - we had to for our 10 year old (some years ago) and at the end of the first month he actually came and told us how much happier he was without it

perspective is a valuable thing

AFireInJuly Sun 27-Sep-20 19:23:49

Does she have time limits on how long she’s allowed to play computer games?

IHateCoronavirus Sun 27-Sep-20 19:28:11

I was also coming on to say get rid of the gaming.

When it is reintroduced it is as a reward for effort and time limited.

SpeedofaSloth Sun 27-Sep-20 19:32:19

Lose the computer games for a bit,at at least she has to earn time on them by doing her studies first.

My DC are truly delightful children, so long as we remember this golden rule. If we slip they are defiant and unhappy.

SpeedofaSloth Sun 27-Sep-20 19:33:33

*or at

taraRoo Sun 27-Sep-20 19:35:42

Sounds like me at that age tbh. Us she happy? Does she like playing those instruments or is she doing it because you want her to? You can't force her to be something she's not. I agree with others that you need to get rid of the gaming. But I'd also say if she's smart and happy she'll find her way, I edged up doing very well at school and pulled my finger out when it counted.

Terrysnotyours Sun 27-Sep-20 19:40:11

I can relate to the sound of your own voice right now OP. Maybe try engage in another activity so explain that you will be going swimming for example and tell DD there’s no games allowed if she has not done her work or behaved.

JKRowlingSuperfan Sun 27-Sep-20 19:44:32

Yes, she has strict time limits. They slipped a bit during lockdown because the gaming was a way of staying connected with real life friends. We already have a rule that everything else has to be done before she gets her screen time.

She likes playing the instruments, they were completely her choice. I'm not musical, I wouldn't have known where to start.

OP’s posts: |
BringBiscuits Sun 27-Sep-20 19:45:22

I don’t have advise but came in to say my dd can be just the same. I hope it’s a phase. She’s lovely with other people but such hard work at home. I don’t think it’s unusual just a phase you have to ride out.

JKRowlingSuperfan Sun 27-Sep-20 19:45:23

Yes, I do think she's happy. It's just that I'm not.

OP’s posts: |
Maggie9000 Sun 27-Sep-20 19:46:09

Get rid of Minecraft and Roblox. They are the work of the devil and you'll see a vast improvement in days (once the initial drama of losing those games has passed)

BringBiscuits Sun 27-Sep-20 19:47:07

My dd was a great runner, swimmer and great at school subjects but only does the bare minimum. She quit all sports at the beginning of lockdown and spends way too much time in her phone. It’s really hard. You’re not alone with this.

OhioOhioOhio Sun 27-Sep-20 19:47:14

I had similar. Get rid of the games.

JKRowlingSuperfan Sun 27-Sep-20 19:48:28

@BringBiscuits, I'm pathetically glad to know we're not alone. Do you know how long the phase lasts?!

OP’s posts: |
StitchInTimeSavesNine Sun 27-Sep-20 19:54:31

I remember picking my dd up from netball when she was nine and thinking 'what am I going to say to her for 15 minutes'.

Get rid of all of the screens for months, if not forever. Make sure there isn't a possibility of negotiating their return.

Start getting her involved in things that have to be done, changing the sheets, cooking. Do them together.

When you can face it, try and find a common interest. I watched Glee with my dd.

xxxviii Sun 27-Sep-20 21:24:04

um, I feel very uncomfortable with this.
OP is ambitious.
Her DD is not.

Maybe you can force her into being like you OP.
Or maybe you're highly alienate her into knowing you never accepted her as she is.

Your risk to run, I guess.

Ohalrightthen Sun 27-Sep-20 21:30:17


um, I feel very uncomfortable with this.
OP is ambitious.
Her DD is not.

Maybe you can force her into being like you OP.
Or maybe you're highly alienate her into knowing you never accepted her as she is.

Your risk to run, I guess.

Are you also 10 years old? OP's not talking about ambition, she's talking about motivation. Doing her school work, reading and music practice isn't "forcing her" to be something she's not, it's the bare minimum requirement! Who on earth resents their parents for encouraging them to read!? Jesus wept.

OnlyToWin Sun 27-Sep-20 21:31:06

Been there - endured many a torturous Sunday getting homework done, had many a talk about trying best etc. Then I decided that I would just leave her be and let her get on with it. If she did not do her homework she got into trouble at school. If she did badly in a test she was disappointed. It was very uncomfortable at first. Obviously I still supported her interests but I pulled back lots. The result? She has started to work harder and do more things herself. She has also made some mistakes and not done so well in some lessons. She has taken more practical options for GCSE and is enjoying them. I had to let go of my snobbery about academic subjects and top grades and just let her be. It’s her life not mine. Life is much less stressful now and she is working harder than she ever has before.

xxxviii Sun 27-Sep-20 21:33:11

Neither 10 yrs old nor rude like @Ohalrightthen.

Come back in 10 yrs & tell us how well the "Mini-Me" project went, OP.

ladybirdsarelovely33 Sun 27-Sep-20 21:35:40

I agree that you need to take away the gaming completely. It def incites bad behaviour. Others have said this OP. Are you up for doing that?

Ohalrightthen Sun 27-Sep-20 21:36:06


Neither 10 yrs old nor rude like *@Ohalrightthen*.

Come back in 10 yrs & tell us how well the "Mini-Me" project went, OP.

I'm not rude, i just wish i had some of whatever you're smoking.

Attempting to raise your child to be polite, considerate and hardworking isn't particularly unusual. OP isn't being unreasonable in wanting her child to do her homework and not verbally abuse her. I think you and i must be reading completely different posts.

whattodo2019 Sun 27-Sep-20 21:43:14

Just take away roadblocks and mine craft...
You are the parent so parent her!

CloudyVanilla Sun 27-Sep-20 21:46:00

I also feel weird about this.

You talk so much about how you don't like her sad

So she is o my allowed to play games once all her school work etc is done. She plays 2 instruments as well. But that's still not enough.

I don't have DC that age but she sounds very normal. I have to say it sounds like you are being hugely overbearing on her personality and hugely judgemental where it's completely unnecessary.

You need to take a step back. You're treating her like too young a child by micromanaging her but also judging her personality by adult standards. I have little doubt your resentment of her shows though in real life.

She's doing NOTHING overly naughty yet you're planning a permanent ban on gaming. Even though you say yourself she has to do all other work first and it is time limited.

The only thing I do agree with is to ditch online games. I think offline Minecraft is absolutely great but Roblox is awful and encourages that addictive busy and gratification mechanism in the brain. Maybe if you put a bit more effort into finding out about her interests you could agree some behaviour friendly games for her to play instead of time suck games like Roblox rather than our right banning gaming because you don't personally find it appealing

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