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How do you motivate teens?

(13 Posts)
thebluehen Thu 15-May-14 20:58:16

My 16 yr old ds is getting more and more insular.

All he wants to do is sit on his PC talking on Skype to his friends.

He had a letter today from national citizen service giving information on a scheme on the summer holidays that looks really positive, and he was rudely dismissive. I told him I thought it looked good and have also offered up other ideas of things to do in the long summer holidays including getting a Saturday job.

He told me he's never getting a part time job. hmm

He said he wants "rewarding" for doing his gcse's by sitting in his bedroom doing nothing for 2.5 months.

He's done minimal revision for his exams.

He doesn't want to join in any aspect of family life at the moment and only wants to talk about politics when he does. His political views are slightly disturbing and extreme in my opinion and completely the opposite of mine.

He does do some basic chores and isn't sweary or shouty at us but he just doesn't want to do anything whilst simultaneously looking down his nose at other people.

I'm feeling disappointed and not sure what to do?

adeucalione Fri 16-May-14 10:29:38

I don't think he sounds that unusual, and he'll probably mature and look back at his 16yo self in horror.

In the meantime I think your options are limited - if he doesn't have a social life then he won't have any incentive to work or do chores for cash, and it sounds like he isn't particularly interested in your approval either.

Could you reach a compromise? Make it clear that he is entitled to some relaxation after his GCSEs but that 2.5months of lazing about is unacceptable. Ask him to research something he can do for a certain number of days/weeks in return for being left alone for the rest of the time? Although I'm not sure what sanctions you could impose if he refuses!

The chances are that he isn't very happy with the situation either - he will be aware of other students organising parties, holidays and trips to festivals, and would probably quite like to be involved, or to have a girlfriend to do those things with. He will also be aware that he may be heading for disappointing results due to lack of revision, and feeling anxious about that.

It might be that a summer of utter abject boredom and crap GCSEs will give him the kick up the arse he needs.

thebluehen Mon 19-May-14 10:20:17

Thanks for the reply. You are right in that it's difficult to use carrot or stick because he doesn't really want anything!

I am going to leave him alone until he has finished his GCSE's, then broach the subject again.

I could restrict his Internet use and / or take his computer away but then i would also have to take his phone away, restrict him from using other pc's the house etc etc. Ultimately i don't want to treat him like a young child and battle with him. He will use lots of energy trying to outfox me, energy which could be used productively.hmm

Like many teens, he wants the freedoms of being an adult but can't actually deal with them very well.

I think I can be very clear with him that I expect him to do something in the holidays but I'm not sure I can enforce anything.

It's probably just a waiting game. Waiting for him to mature and either knuckle down and start living his life or sit and fester.

As a parent, it's very difficult to think he might choose the latter option, not just now but forever more!

WaffleWiffle Mon 19-May-14 11:28:20

He's interested in politics, why not engage him in that?

He may have extreme views, so have a 'juicy' conversation about politics and challenge his views on an equal, adult level.

I have always had strong political views and while they are now very mainstream, as an adolescent I was exploring the way politics and current affairs works and so considered extreme views. In fact I actually said I agreed with then (which wasn't actually true) as a means to shock my parents and to encourage that full-on adult debate on the matter.

Could he join a debate club?

What about local politics. Most town councils hold a public meeting once a month which he could sit in on.

Petitgrain Mon 19-May-14 11:42:15

I hope you don't let him know that you're disappointed? It's just that he sounds exactly like one of my DSs and most of his mates, and, actually, me at that age! It is disappointing but pretty standard teenage stuff, and I think it is best to pick your battles very carefully at this point. Let him be himself, gentle encouragement to do positive things but acceptance of who he is at this stage of his life (which is fleeting in the grand scheme of things) is really important if you don't want him to develop low self-esteem. It may seem like he doesn't care what you think, but he does, deep down, hence the rude replies - he doesn't want to hear that you don't approve of what he is doing, or are disappointed in any way. And he has a point, I think, why shouldn't he do what he likes for a while? It won't be forever.

Petitgrain Mon 19-May-14 11:45:01

And yes, yes, yes to encouraging political debate - why shouldn't he care about politics? I joined a political party at the age of 16, got really into it, it turned out to be a phase, although I'll always be a leftie liberal type. I think he's in the process if finding out who he is, and that's important.

adeucalione Mon 19-May-14 15:31:28

IMO there's nothing wrong with demonstrating your disappointment with his behaviour.

It's not as if you're disappointed by something he can't change about himself - not being clever enough or sporty enough or whatever.

You're disappointed that he isn't revising enough, won't engage with family life, won't get a part time job and plans to sit in his bedroom for three months; you'd be an unusual parent indeed if none of this bothered you, and I'm sure he's smart enough to work that out.

I tend to pick my battles but I actually think this is a fight worth having. There's no cast iron guarantee he'll sort himself out, many don't, and you need to set some expectations. I'd sit down for a sensible discussion, with a view to compromise, but if that didn't work I'd unplug the router every morning.

Having said that, he will need some direction - telling him to 'go out and do something' won't work. Make family plans that include him, ask him for suggestions for days out and suggest things he could do with friends.

adeucalione Mon 19-May-14 15:33:55

And I'd get up to speed on his politics - at the moment all adults are idiots that don't understand him or the fact that the world would be a better place if we only adopted communism (or whatever), so debate rather than dismiss I think.

bunnybing Mon 19-May-14 21:25:54

Well as a 16 yr old I was certainly motivated to get a Saturday job - because I wanted the cash. How much pocket money do you give him?

thebluehen Wed 21-May-14 20:43:35

Thanks for the replies. With regards to the politics, his views have been extreme, holocoust denial, declaring he's a fascist etc.

I have been the only one who hasn't dismissed him on this and debated gently and tried to show him I can see the positives in all parties and regimes.

Thankfully he seems to have mellowed and his views are far less extreme but I can't remember the last time he wanted to talk about anything other than computers or politics.

He currently gets £8 per week pocket money, the same as his 16 yr old step sister who lives with us. He spends it on computer hardware or games.

I honestly believe he is struggling with finding himself and working out who he is. So many changes going on and leaving school is a scary prospect but I am very aware that sitting at home hiding behind the Internet probably isn't helping.

It doesn't help having his step sister out and about, behaving well, revising, having a part time job etc etc. I can see her blossoming whilst he just seems to be getting more miserable and grumpy! hmm

ThreeLannistersOneTargaryen Wed 21-May-14 20:49:35

£8 a week! I must be very tight.

topbanana1 Thu 29-May-14 13:56:45

There are no positives in holocaust denial or a fascist regime!

Just saying.

cupcake12345 Tue 03-Jun-14 21:12:15

the trouble with teens is that there isn't much for them to do or any time. I have 4 kids, 2 are now fully teens, and I find it hard to find thins to do when their not doing school work, which is a right pain! after a long week at school they are usually really tired and my 14 year old son especially struggles with school so he is usually very tired so he cant really be bothered to do anything else, now I am not saying drag him out on family trips or anything but maybe it would be worth asking him about his exams maybe there's a reason, other then he can't be bothered , why he is not revising. Exams are stressful, and the revision is even worse I know getting my kids to sit still is a challenge but maybe a little reward wouldn't do any harm. it is good to congratulate and praise children especially these days as I know school has got a lot harder and I think that all teens these days have a lot of pressure.

this is also natural for teenage boys especially my eldest son is now 19 and at college with a very good part time job living by himself with a few mates and even now he still says to me ,'I wish I did that little bit more on that' he got mostly B's and a few C's he was a bit like a grumpy teenage boy when he was 16 and it was a struggle and you do panic but we trusted him, and he turned out pretty well.

maybe if you leave you son alone for a few days he might relax and settle down into the habit of revision. I am sure he will be fine! good luck to him!!xx

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