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Please could I have some advice about how to handle this situation

(55 Posts)
SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 13:51:01

Dd is 17 and is in Yr 13. She is a bright girl, in that she gets As and Bs for her course work, but she completely tanked her AS and end of year exams in Yr 12 - she got two Us and an E. She did revise for them, but clearly not effectively. Her results were a big shock for her and for us and we had many discussions, rows and tears. She felt that we had been too hard on her (although she has very few limitations on what she does, she has a wide circle of friends and socialises and goes to gigs more or less whenever she wants). We agreed to change our behaviour, which effectively means that we must not mention studying, exams, university, the future or suggest that she might have the balance between her social life and school work wrong. She assured us she was perfectly aware that she needed to work hard and that she was doing a lot of work in her free periods at school and at home.
However, nothing seems to have changed. She has an important test the first day she goes back to school after half-term, which will determine one of her predicted grades, but the pattern of her days this holiday runs something like: wake up between 9 - 10am, watch youtube, text, instragram, whatsapp etc for another hour or so on her phone, get up, watch TV until hungry, make breakfast, get ready, back on the phone, do a bit of work (but not every day and she has a video playing on her phone at the same time and is also texting etc. This was something I asked her not to do when she was revising last year, but she said it helped her study), then back to watching youtube, instagramming etc etc full-time until dinner, then same again after dinner until bed, between 10 - 12. On school days she gets back, and straight into tv, youtube etc, with maybe an hours' work slotted in before bed.
Is this typical behaviour? The shock of her results seems to have worn off and she has gone back to her old ways. We have tried to talk with her a couple of times, but it results in rudeness, stroppiness, big sighs of "I know" and point blank no attempt to engage with what we are worried about. Her bedroom is an absolute tip, clothes everywhere but again, there is the stropping about if we mention it.
Reading this back she sounds like a complete spoilt brat with a couple of wet lettuces for parents, but she isn't like that really and we are not walk-overs either! However, we don't know what to do for best. Do we just let her carry on as she is and hope it turns out ok? How do we learn to turn a blind eye and not say anything? Do we need to be more strict? Has anyone been through this same situation and how did it turn out in the end?
Thank you for reading and any tips and advice would be very welcome.

Fffion Thu 26-Oct-17 14:02:42

My sympathies.

I have had two children who did not pay appreciate how much work is needed to do well in A-levels. They wasted their time on computer games rather than going out. A clever kid can ace their GCSEs, but don't realise that you need to work hard for A-levels, even if clever.

I don't think there is an awful lot you can do, tbh. You can't really change the way they are wired. If you nag, you just end,up getting angry with one another and destroy the relationship.

My DS who was like this has not done well academically beyond GCSE but he seems happy enough in his underachievement. My DD has learnt her lessons and is on track for a first in her final year at Uni (her insurance choice).

My two who did well worked hard consistently through their A-levels and so had no doors closed to them.

However frustrating their study habits are, you can't force them, only encourage. As long as they know the consequences of their short term thinking, it's their life.

SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 14:13:23

Thank you Fffion, you are so right about the difference in work between GCSEs and A levels - dd has managed to sail through school so far so hasn't learnt that hard work pays off. And I do not want to blight her final school year with constant arguments and destroy our relationship. What was the turning moment for your dd to learn her lessons, do you think?

Caulk Thu 26-Oct-17 14:19:23

My god daughter was like this. She did very little until the 48 hours before each exam. Her School released expected grades in about January? and she realised she still wasn’t working hard enough.

She used to come and work at my house as she was less distracted than at home, and we realised that she didn’t actually know how to revise - she had never had to. Her parents got school by talking to her about what she would do if she didn’t get the grades. She wouldn’t have listened to her parents but did to other adults IYSWIM and managed well in her undergrade. Dropped out of her MA though...

SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 14:30:45

Caulk, thank you, that is a good idea about getting the teachers to have a word. It is very frustrating for her to dismiss what I am saying, as if I don't know what I am talking about!

noblegiraffe Thu 26-Oct-17 14:31:56

A couple of years ago she probably wouldn't have been allowed to continue into Y13 with those grades and would have had to spend the summer seriously rethinking her life. It is unfortunate that the kick up the backside that some students really need in sixth form is now not being delivered.
If she got UUE at the end of Y12, then her predicted grades should reflect this and once she has them you can start discussing next year. If she is thinking about uni then the UCAS deadline isn't far off so she can't keep sticking her head in the sand.

crunchtime Thu 26-Oct-17 14:36:09

my son was kicked out of school with better grades than that and has had to start year 12 again elsewhere.

speak to school. is she applying to uni because she won't get any offers with those grades i shouldn't think.

important to remember that she won't be able to start again at the end of year 13 because the funding won't be there-unless you find somewhere private of course

SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 14:54:32

She has been allowed to stay on because the grades really do not reflect her work throughout the year, but at the time I was worried that she might not be allowed to continue at the school.
crunchtime (appropriate name in the circumstances!) thank you, I didn't realise that she might not be able to repeat Yr13. Another thing to worry about sad.
I did speak with her teachers after she got the results, but I think another meeting would be appropriate. I am just so worried about her.

SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 20:28:01

Bumping for the evening crowd. Any advice or comments would be very welcome.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 26-Oct-17 20:31:16

Does she have ambitions to go to university? Perhaps she'd be better doing something different.

trilbydoll Thu 26-Oct-17 20:38:19

Sounds like me at 18 although my grades were slightly better. There is one psychology module I retook a couple of times and never got a grade!

Do the school do any revision classes? I didn't know how to study, and I didn't get it until I did my accountancy exams and the college did revision days.

CamperVamp Thu 26-Oct-17 20:40:37

The pact about not talking to her about studying has clearly not worked.

If you cannot calmly take her phone off her between, say 10 am and 4pm on days when she is supposed to be working, then just switch the router off.

She walked all over you with her ‘back off’ demand, and is hooked on social media and doesn’t have the discipline to self police.

So step in and do it for her. Who pays for her phone and contract? Well, there you are then!

SwanneeKazoo Thu 26-Oct-17 21:53:07

She absolutely does have ambitions to go to university and has a clear idea what she wants to do. She has been to three open days which seemed to fire her up at the time but hasn't translated into a commitment to work hard. I think a large part of the problem is that she doesn't know how to revise effectively and at the beginning of the term we asked her to arrange additional tutoring with the teachers at school but she has always come up with some excuse as to why this hasn't happened. Yes, we could have arranged this for her but I don't think it was asking too much of her to do this for herself, surely?
She procrastinates and doesn't want to face up to reality, which is why she goes off on one if we have the temerity to mention anything to do with her school work because she knows there is a kernel of truth in what we are saying. If we do try and talk with her about her priorities, we get accused of being nasty to her and creating too much stress, so it's counter-productive. I really don't want to start taking her phone off her or turning the router off. She's 17 not 11, and if the only way she can manage her workload and her social life is through us artificially creating a suitable environment, then she isn't going to be able to cope if she does go to university. Does anyone have any effective sanctions for an almost-adult?
We are both at a loss to know how to talk with her and cannot seem to find a way to approach it which doesn't result in immediate histrionics. I know she is under stress, I have sat many exams myself, but she seems to be unable to talk about it calmly. Maybe the only way is to let her fail, but she doesn't seem to have learned her lesson from her disastrous results at the end of Yr 12. We have tried to agree a timetable that combines work and relaxation, e.g., you can watch tv until x time, then do an hour's work, then something else until x hours, etc, but the times come and go and she makes no move to proceed to the work bit.
I alternate between being very worried for her future and being furious (internally, not to dd) that she cannot see that not being able to watch Ru Paul for hours on end is not the worst thing that could happen to her.

CamperVamp Thu 26-Oct-17 22:28:50

“Does anyone have any effective sanctions for an almost-adult?”

Sanctions like turning the router off, but not turning the router off? grin How are any other kind of sanctions treating her like an adult?

Look, she won’t GET to Uni at this rate. She tanked her exams and hasn’t increased her hours of work or level of concentration since.

Getting accused of being nasty isn’t counter productive, it’s par for the course!

If she isn’t mature enough to sort herself out she is still at a level where you have to exert some parent power!

Blogwoman Thu 26-Oct-17 23:31:52

Sympathies OP. I also have a Yr 13 DD & see some similarities. I really agree with your comment if the only way she can manage her workload and her social life is through us artificially creating a suitable environment, then she isn't going to be able to cope if she does go to university. I’m not convinced I could actually stand over her & make her do the work, but even if I could it wouldn’t be much use to her at the next stage. Other DD learned the skills through hard work & determination in 6th form that she needed at uni - & it’s hard adjusting t uni even so. It’s so difficult to know what one could & should do.

reallyorange Thu 26-Oct-17 23:36:54

Nothing magical happens when they hit 18 and become 'an adult' so if she's not acting like one she shouldn't expect you to treat her like one. I agree another adult might be better placed to talk to her?

CamperVamp Thu 26-Oct-17 23:43:59

Yr 13 in a school is an ‘artificial environment ‘ with rules laid down externally!

Oinkyoinky Thu 26-Oct-17 23:49:22

Same with my Year 11 DD. Very able but a severe procrastinator. Leaves homework until the last minute, and barely revises, but has always done well anyway. Realising now that she has to work for her GCSEs but says she has no idea how to, as she has never really put any pressure on her, barely any homework and little consequences if it's not done from school. If we put pressure on at home, we are met with anger and non-cooperation. If we leave her to it, which is what she wants, she still doesn't do the work, or if she does, then it's not to a great standard. Recently a bit of a breakthrough - we have linked working hard with rewards - ie if she wants to go to a party, then we want to see that she's done her work. It does seem to work and even though she still complains every time, without fail, the work is getting done. But she still moans that she's doing it for us and not her, as we've dictated when she does it. She has a point, but then if we leave her to it, she doesn't do it! Catch-22! I do worry that if we do organise her too much, she'll never learn to do it herself, but on the other hand she's only 15 and as there's no pressure coming from school, I think we have to put some on ourselves. Maybe one day she'll thank us and secretly I think she knows we have her best interests at heart!

CamperVamp Fri 27-Oct-17 00:19:42

“But she still moans that she's doing it for us and not her, as we've dictated when she does it. She has a point, “

And the point is that if she got on and did her work straight away, or under her own steam, in her own timetable, then she wouldn’t be doing it ‘for you’! Point out to her that she appears not to be taking this incredibly simple step towards freeing herself!

15, 16 and 17 year olds are still young. They NEED saving from themselves. They just resent that fact, so take it out on you.

Quail in the face of term outrage and really you are just leaving them to flounder and fail.

Firmness, humour....more firmness, and calm. Don’t rise to the tantrums.

happygardening Fri 27-Oct-17 07:21:01

What sort of grades will she need for the uni/course she’s interested in.
If she has exams when she goes back after half term and doesn’t do well will this wake her up?
Or maybe nothing will and she won’t get into the uni/course she wants. IMO this is how we learn. We cock up, make big mistakes and hopefully learn from them, although some never will and ultimately that’s her problem.
My very bright DH now well and truely middle aged who I’ve know since school yr 11 did no work at school, didn’t do well in A levels, went to college didn’t do any work, dropped out, started a job was lazy, dropped out, then at 22 the penny dropped. He’s fine now.
At any stages in our lives we can go to uni, retrain, I’ve done both! I personally don’t think it’s the end of the world if kids don’t go to uni, I think many kids go off to uni because this option has been presented to them by schools parents friends etc, since an early age as the only sensible option. Maybe she’d be better getting a job when she leaves school, however lowly or not. My DS2 who didn’t exactly revise for England (but luckily for him did very well) decided he didn’t want to go to uni when he left school, I was fine with this, although made it very clear we weren’t bank rolling his life. He dreamed of pursuing a particular outdoor career, fine, prove to me you want to work outside come hell or high water come up with a plan and we’ll support you, in terms of food and a roof over you head (nothing more). One year later he’s at top uni and apparently working really hard and loving it. During his gap year he discovered working outside 12/13 hours a day come wind rain hail or snow (and non existent money) wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, he also worked part time as a labourer, he hated it.
But of course he was lucky he had top grades in excellent academic subjects. At one stage a few years ago he said to me he didn’t need top grades to pursue his dream outdoor job, which was true, but I pointed out if his dream outdoor job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, top grades gave him options. At the time I’m sure he thought I was just a boring parent spouting the usual stuff, I wonder what he thinks now!
It’s easy for me to write this because it’s all turned out well, in terms of he’s returned to the conventional route, but if it hadn’t? I guess we’d have provided the food and roof over his head and emotionally supported him in whatever job he decided to do. I don’t think getting on her case will make much difference frankly only cause more resentment. Maybe another adult having a word might help, but I suspect your have to wait and hope that the penny to drop on its own.

Ktown Fri 27-Oct-17 07:27:59

Switch off the WiFi in the morning?

tiggytape Fri 27-Oct-17 08:38:51

She's 17 not 11, and if the only way she can manage her workload and her social life is through us artificially creating a suitable environment, then she isn't going to be able to cope if she does go to university. Does anyone have any effective sanctions for an almost-adult?
My DS turns 17 this term and I agree with this.
I do appreciate another poster's view that 15, 16 and 17 year olds are not usually fully matured human beings but equally, something magical does happen at 18. Well something very definite anyway - they legally become an adult. Overnight, their whole status changes entirely. They become equal to their parents in terms of expected autonomy and being able to do whatever they want whether it is good for them or not. They cease to be under the guidance of anyone else unless they choose to be.

A 17 year old is very different to a 15 year old.
If they resist being saved from themselves, where does that leave the situation in 6 months time when the child is legally an adult and cannot for example have their phone confiscated anymore than their parent can? Of course you can take the ultimate 'my house, my rules' even with another adult but that can all spiral out of control pretty quickly.

At 17 I think you really only have option of being on hand, keeping regular dialogue going and of offering advice and incentives as opposed to punishments and threats.

For example an agreed timetable on how long is required to revise for this test with a clear reward if it is stuck to plus being open to talk about other reasons for procrastination (laziness is the most obvious one but there's also the possibility of: fear of failures, feeling overwhelmed, self sabotage if they want to drop a subject or drop the idea of uni etc).

Ultimately a more trusting / hands off approach may not work. But sitting over them cracking the whip at age 17 is pointless. If calm chatting and encouragement works - great. But if you're getting to the stage of confiscating phones, turning off wifi and arguing over it everyday, it won't work anyway.

LoniceraJaponica Fri 27-Oct-17 08:46:58

noblegiraffe many schools and 6th form colleges won't allow progression into year 13 with those grades now. At DD's school the minimum requirement is 3 Ds. With those grades you have the option to redo year 12 or leave and do something else.

LiveLifeWithPassion Fri 27-Oct-17 08:50:04

I think you need to renegotiate with her.
Ask her questions to help her come up with her own plan. Things like
What grades do you think you’re capable of getting?
How much work a day do you think you should do for those results?
What’s the best time for you to work?
How are you going to stick to that time slot without your phone distracting you?
What Can I do to help?

That way, it feels like she’s come up with her own plan and can hopefully stick to it. If she doesn’t, you can nag her and remind her that this was all her idea wink

celticmissey Fri 27-Oct-17 08:55:47

Had a friend with a daughter in a similar situation. She was addicted to her phone and that seemed to be the constant distraction. So they spoke with her and the teachers and she worked out her own work/revision timetable but the agreement was she left her phone downstairs when she did it. Part of the incentive was paying towards driving lessons. Not saying it would work for everyone but it did wonders for her.

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