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When a child won't do homework

(48 Posts)
user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 20:56:30

I feel really low as I feel that I have basically failed as a parent. I have a 15 year old DS, who is doing a french controlled assessment which will count towards his GCSE tomorrow morning. I have tried so hard all weekend to get him to revise and he has basically done nothing. It seems to be a case of you can take a horse to water but can't make it drink. Nagging just results in a row. He is six foot and when he starts to shout, I find it intimidating and usually back down.

Despite being academically able, he is doing poorly at school as cannot be bothered to do more than the bare minimum. Actually is doing less than minimum. I feel that I haven't the parenting skills to deal with this. Is it just best to accept that however much you want the best for your children, there is only so much you can do?

eyebrowsonfleek Sun 10-Jul-16 21:02:24

What are his plans for y12/13?

I think that my son in y10 only studies because he wants to go the Sixth Form at his school. He's bright but doesn't care. He purposefully tanked his Geography mock a couple of weeks ago and got a U. He said that the test was after lunch and he was too tired and CBA to fill it in.

I've warned him that if he doesn't get to Sixth Form then he'll have to go to a new school and get public transport to get there. (School is currently a 15 minute walk) He's not listening at all but I will still drag him along to some Sixth Form Open Days so he gets a wake up call.

LockedOutOfMN Sun 10-Jul-16 21:09:15

Following on from eyebrowsonfleek's advice, will your son have meetings or presentations at school about the future? At our school, (I'm head of year 11), we have a one-on-one interview with students after their mock GCSEs and talk about the entry requirements for Year 12. For students who have achieved worrying mock results, we call in their parents for those meetings too (we also have a meeting at end of Year 10 for parents of students, with the students themselves, who aren't working towards good GCSE results).

In PSHE lessons and tutor times, we explain the entry requirements for sixth form, university entry requirements, and the subjects on offer for A Level, then have a meeting about A Level subject choices with each Year 11 student individually. Often, we find the incentive of wanting to study X at A Level motivates them to work harder at X, Y and Z at GCSE.

lljkk Sun 10-Jul-16 21:13:44

I never know with these threads whether people want

A) reassurance that they should keep trying to crack the whip no matter how painful, and that nothing else is acceptable, they just need moral support to keep it up

B) reassurance that it's okay to let their kids make own mistakes.

Wolfiefan Sun 10-Jul-16 21:14:20

This weekend is too late. He needs to work each week towards these exams. What does he say when you ask him to work?
What sanctions do you put in place when he shouts at you? He shouldn't be rowing with a parent. Don't back down. Ever! Clear consequences for actions.

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 21:29:21

He thinks that he will be doing A-Levels in Sixth form at the school he goes to. What he fails to appreciate that it is quite competitive to get into sixth form and he won't be accepted due to his poor attitude.

LockedOutOfMN Sun 10-Jul-16 21:31:56

user1466222549 What is the school's opinion? Do they think he is going to get the results he needs for sixth form entry, and to study the A Level subjects of his choice? If this isn't clear, perhaps set up a meeting with his head of year or the head of sixth form...

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 21:46:56

Sorry that I did not respond to any queries in my second post.I must have cross posted.

Lljk, I'm not really sure what I want to hear really. I feel sorely tempted to let him learn by his own mistakes. However, the other side is that I don't really know how to get him to change his attitude.

Wolfiefan, When I ask him to work, he says that he will do it later. When it gets to the agreed time, he won't do it. I used to confiscate his electronics when he was rude. However, he took an overdose after an argument about homework several months ago. Now I'm too scared to get irate with him. As far as we can tell he wasn't and isn't currently depressed. He is only unhappy if asked to do his school work as he just doesn't want to do it.

lljkk Sun 10-Jul-16 21:48:41

yowza, the overdose history changes a lot.

Wolfiefan Sun 10-Jul-16 21:51:11

Can a teacher at school explain that he won't be going to 6th form if this continues?
Did he really OD because you took away electronics? That seems a massive overreaction. What follow up has been done following OD?
You can't never sanction your child.
What are school doing to support?

TheRealAdaLovelace Sun 10-Jul-16 21:52:07

if he took an overdose about homework, perhaps you should just leave him to get on with it, in terms of whether or not he does it.
Are you in touch with CAHMS?
Some things are more important than school grades.
Do you think he feels under a lot of pressure?

LockedOutOfMN Sun 10-Jul-16 21:54:05

user1466222549 Has your son seen a psychologist, counsellor, etc. since his overdose? I think his mental health and general wellbeing have to come first and be prioritised before anyone - he, you or the school - can motivate him to study harder. I expect he is seeing a professional, but thought it was worth pointing this out. As a teacher of this age group, I know it is really, REALLY hard to strike the balance between making exams. and study important, but ensure that they understand there is life after exams. and there are ways to overcome bad results. Some students are just not ready to take exams. at this age. They need our support to ensure they don't lose their self-esteem.

Good luck to you and your son. I empathise with your sense of worry and frustration.

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 22:04:09

LockedOutOfMN I haven't specifically discussed with the school DS's chances of getting into sixth form. He was predicted "As" in most subjects but not handing in homework and severe disorganisation has been a problem in all lessons right from year 7.

Prior to the DS taking the overdose a few months ago, school were really cross with him due to his lack of effort. All school reports were poor and all parents' evenings were horrendous. However, they are treating him with kid gloves a bit now since he took the OD. We are waiting for a CAHMS assessment, so they might be able to give us some advise possibly.

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 22:07:27

LockedoutofMN. Thank you so much for this advice. Your posts are very illuminating and extremely helpful.

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 22:19:29

Sorry that I haven't specifically responded to each poster. I keep cross posting. By the time I type something I have missed additional posts.

Wolfiefan, I agree that the OD seemed a massive overreaction to what was essentially a row about me asking him to do his English homework. He is still waiting for a CAMHS assessment and I am hoping that they will give us some insight into his behaviour. I know that we can't carry on without dealing with poor behaviour but we are floundering around knowing how to deal with him.

TheRealAdaLovelace He doesn't show any signs of feeling under pressure. He really enjoys playing with a friend online on his Playstation and just thinks that homework gets in the way of it.

Wolfiefan Sun 10-Jul-16 22:22:01

Just wondered if there were other issues. Like is he scared of failing? is he avoiding the work because he's scared he can't do it well enough?
Can he do things other than screen time to boost his self confidence and make him feel success? Sport?

LockedOutOfMN Sun 10-Jul-16 22:24:22

Thanks for the responses. I do hope the mental health assessment and support are swift in coming.

If you feel your son can "handle" it, I would pay out the situation to him clearly and factually. He may be able to wing his way through the exams. on intelligence and get into sixth form, however, he might not get the results he needs in the right subjects and therefore be limited in his choices of what he can study for A Level (without re-takes). Given his teachers' recent comments and his recent grades, however, it's more likely that his GCSE results will be disappointing and prevent him from continuing to Year 12. Then he'll probably want to re-take, which will mean dropping a year behind most - or all - of his friends, and perhaps moving to a different school or college.

However, at this point, there's still time for him to avoid this possibility and simply increase his efforts so that he has more choices open to him in the near future. Give him the harsh truth, but make sure he is aware that it's not too late, he has the power to change things and improve his grades now and thereby give himself more options.

2nds Sun 10-Jul-16 22:26:52

Is he being bullied at school perhaps? I was bullied at school a lot and my homework and study went out the window.

simbobs Sun 10-Jul-16 22:38:55

I could have written this post myself (not the OD bit, but the controlled assessment bit). My 15 yr old ds sounds a lot like yours. He will do anything to avoid doing homework and will have his final chance to pass the CA next week. He claims that he finds it hard enough to memorise the words in a foreign language, but clams up once he is being recorded inside the pod that they use for the exam. He has had 3 goes now and needs to knuckle down. He is bright but flies by the seat of his pants. He would much rather get a C having done no work, than put in effort and get an A. He claims that my nagging makes him like this. I merely remind him what he should be doing. Like you, I feel a failure, but no sanctions seem to work. I always thought he would mature and come right but am still waiting...

cece Sun 10-Jul-16 22:44:18

Could he have something like ADHD if you say he finds organisation difficult?

user1466222549 Sun 10-Jul-16 23:08:59

I think that there is quite likely to be something such as ADHD, Dysplasia going on as he really is hopelessly disorganised. Hopefully CAMHS will assess for this. As far as we know he isn't being bullied. Don't think he is scared of failing. Just think that he thinks homework is dull and boring. It sounds negative but I don't think he has a work ethic. I would be more than happy with whatever results he got if i thought that he was doing his best. I struggle with a can't be arsed attitude though.

TeenAndTween Mon 11-Jul-16 13:17:33

You could try some / all of the following
- get clear info from school as to 6th form entry requirements, and sit down with DS (maybe with his form tutor) so he understands them
- start looking at 'plan Bs'
- discuss / think whether you think he really can't be bothered, or is actually giving off that vibe because he actually 'can't do'
- if you think 'can't do' then is there any way you can get him to agree to let you help
- if 'can't be bothered' then are there any bribes/rewards that you could use

Organisational stuff seems to increase in GCSE years. If he can't do it then he could be feeling completely overwhelmed.

What are his motor skills like?

user1466222549 Mon 11-Jul-16 15:21:20

TeenAndTween His motor skills seem ok. Had poor gross motor movement as a young child (always falling over) but seems to have "Grown out of it".

Good idea to get school to confirm entry requirements for sixth form. I will definitely do this as it gives something concrete to discuss with him. Plan B will probably be college instead of sixth form. It will pose challenges as he will have to get up much earlier to get a bus (school is only 2 minutes away at present whereas college 12 miles away). This will not be easy for him as he struggles to get to sleep/stay asleep and therefore can't get up in the morning. Good idea to look at more carrot rather than stick to improve motivation. I haven't really tried that approach.

He may well be overwhelmed by the severity of his poor organisational skills. He is constantly losing his planner, turning up to lessons without a pen as well as forgetting homework. School have recently started to try and help him with this. Short of providing him with a permanent personal assistant, I think there is a limit as how much they can help. It's hard for me to do much. As he loses his planner so often, I can't check what homework he has got. Even when he does have his planner, he writes very little in it.

teta Mon 11-Jul-16 15:43:41

If he's had problems with organisation and not handing homework since year 7 how can the school be predicting him A's?It sounds like the school have badly let him down by ignoring these issues for many years ( without looking in to the root cause) and making pie-in-the-sky predictions.
He sounds very similar to my son who's been diagnosed with Dyslexia ( right down to the falling over things when little).He's probably feeling so stressed and unable to cope with the work and organisation. .

calamityjam Mon 11-Jul-16 15:58:33

He is 15. He doesn't want to do it. He knows the consequences of not doing his homework/revision, he will be more than aware how many GCSE's he needs to achieve to get where he wants to go. I have a son the same age and 2 older ones. My eldest did very little work but was very much like me in that he knew exactly what he needed and knew he could get their with little work. I didn't moan and he got where he needed to go no problem. My 15 year old is not particularly academic at all, but is very practical and has held down jobs since he was 13. He will either go to college to do a btech or get an apprenticeship. Whatever they do at school is not the be all and end all of their life. Your son may need to take time away from full time education after year 11 and go back a few years later or he may do exceptionally well at an apprenticeship and follow a career that way. I really think that far far too much pressure is put on teens to do well at year11 when realsitically there are many options if they can't handle it emotionally.

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