DS refusing to work for his A Levels

(66 Posts)
CostaRicanBananas Sat 19-Mar-16 11:29:11

DS is in year 12 and has just got back his trial exam results. The only one where he did well was the one where his natural ability carried him through. He's only doing three subjects and anything that requires him to work for it (and this applies to everything at the moment, even rugby which he used to love) just does not happen. I set up a revision schedule, went through as much as I could with him at home and tested his knowledge as much as possible. My two key worries: his lack of appreciation for effort vs reward (put work in, get the results at the other end) and that he's refusing to take ownership for his school work. We have tried it all: setting short-term targets, grounding him, confiscating his mobile phone (so that he's not distracted throughout the day and up all night).

Otherwise, there's no drugs or drinking and he's very respectful of us and house rules. Also, he's very motivated when it comes to his part-time job and is doing exceedingly well. We believe that it's the tangible result (i.e. a pretty good pay at the end of each month) that motivates him, and also the praise from his managers - basically, immediate gratification as opposed to school where is a much longer (in teenage terms anyway) reward. Or this is our interpretation of it anyway.

I have considered whether to just take him out of school and let him go to work full-time, although this is not something that he has ever suggested himself. However, I can't see the point of him staying at his wonderful grammar school for another year just for the sake of his social life, seeing that he's not going to achieve grades good enough to help him secure a place at the universities that he wishes to attend (or that he says he wants to attend! I am no longer sure whether this is just talk to keep mum happy rather than genuine aspirations!).

One interesting point was that with his driving licence, I nagged him for months to apply for the provisional licence. He couldn't motivate himself to do it so I eventually did it for him for his birthday. What I got from this, which I have saw happen with his rugby, was that he really wants to get his licence (and is now very enthusiastic about his lessons, which is mostly paying for with his own money) but he couldn't find the motivation to actually get the ball rolling!!

I have no idea what to do...any thoughts? flowers]

PeaStalks Sat 19-Mar-16 14:34:02

Bribery?
He sounds a little immature and it would seem to be a terrible waste to let him give up on education just because he is is a normal teenage boy who needs to grow up a bit? He needs to recognise that the long term gain for doing the school work is the ability to get a better job than the one he has now. Suggest to him that if he stays in that job he will be financially better off than his friends for a few years but then they will leave uni and overtake him forever.
Probably not popular on MN but I'd offer an incentive for getting good grades, big enough to make it worth his while.

gingerboy1912 Sat 19-Mar-16 14:35:13

Marking place have a similar problem with my ds

LaurieFairyCake Sat 19-Mar-16 14:39:21

Don't pull him out as he may grow up markedly next year. I have a yr13 who is now going to uni, is now working to get her grades and who last year did fuck all.

He will grow up a bit over the summer and if he gets his ass handed to him by not doing so well this year then all the better.

I do think you've correctly noted he needs a bit of management. I still turn the wifi off at ten, still get all of them to plug their phones in downstairs at ten. I think internet usage is really addictive (well it is even for me) so I help them manage this by being firm about night time usage.

noblegiraffe Sat 19-Mar-16 14:39:34

If he doesn't do well at his wonderful grammar school in Y12, presumably they won't let him stay on for Y13.

You need to sit him down and have a serious chat about his plans in the eventuality that he fails Y12. College? An apprenticeship?

Peebles1 Sat 19-Mar-16 14:53:36

Do let me know if you find the magic answer. DD, year 13 and 11 weeks away from A-levels, is driving me nuts. She's doing sweet f.a. as always. Somehow she got decent GCSEs. Not good AS levels but enough to get achievable uni offers. But has done even less work than last year if that's possible. I've tried everything too. Currently trying 'detach, detach ... ' but I can't see it lasting past the weekend grin
She's had a lot of problems, so not really the same as your DS (unless you've not mentioned stuff). I wouldn't give up on your DS yet, he might surprise you. I'd plod on as you are, then see what he wants to do after the results come out. Have loads of tales of kids who failed/did badly but went on to do well, as I'm sure everyone else does too.

PennyHasNoSurname Sat 19-Mar-16 15:14:05

At the end of the day bad grades will only affect his life. If he cant be arsed to do well then he can suffer the consequences. I didnt pay any board while I was in full time education and was told as soon as I finished in education I would be expected to pay my way.

Would the prospect of a job plus paying a hefty contribution to the house be enough to motivate him to remain in education and actually try?

rogueantimatter Sat 19-Mar-16 15:45:18

Similar situation here.

I'm trying to em, subtly encourage. My DS would go mad if I made him a timetable or tested his knowledge. His mocks had mixed results. It's so frustrating when they can't find it in themselves to apply themselves to things that don't interest them isn't it? I totally get you.

DD was the same. She did okay in the end but is now doing a uni course she isn't enjoying. In the run up to her final exams I did five evening classes on parenting teenagers. One of the tasks was to ask your teens to prioritise what they hoped a parent would give them and she said 'Encouragement'. I was astonished as I felt like I was nagging away with statements like, ' You're smart so you can still do a lot between now and next week. You'll regret it if you don't blah blah. ' She clearly only heard 'Do what I tell you blah blah'. Once she said that she had been about to go and study when I told her she should go and do some studying and she was so annoyed at being told to go and study that she decided not to.

Your DS (and my DS) must feel as if all that anyone talks about it is exams - their teachers nag them at school then they go home and their parent nags them. With some teens it has the opposite effect from the intended.

This time round I've told DS that during his study leave he must study for 4-5 hours a day. I will try not to keep asking him how he's getting on or what he's doing but try to insist that he puts the time in as it's only for a few weeks.

biddy53 Sat 19-Mar-16 16:05:34

In a similar situation here sad DS has absolutely no motivation and seems unable to see that this is for his benefit not anyone else's. He doesn't want to go to uni (fair enough) but most decent jobs will require A levels. His outlook is very immature and he has no idea what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

What I find most frustrating is that he could do well - he got 8 A/A* s at GCSE without revising but found the step up to A levels really difficult and rather than trying harder just seemed to give up.

At the end of the day bad grades will only affect his life. If he cant be arsed to do well then he can suffer the consequences.

This is true but I can't bring myself to let him flounder and completely mess up. My solution is to throw some money at it and I have booked him in to some Easter revision courses - I think it may be too little too late but at least I will feel I gave him every opportunity to do well.

jalopy Sat 19-Mar-16 16:06:44

I wouldn't have applied for his driving licence nor organised his revision schedule. I think the reason he is refusing to take ownership of his studies is because you are doing it for him. He's now of an age where he needs to learn to take responsibility for his own studies, future decisions and face the consequences accordingly.

It's difficult to take a back seat but, speaking as a parent of two at university, I would leave him to it.

hippoinamudhole Sat 19-Mar-16 16:21:33

My son was like this in year 12. I say him at the kitchen table all the time he was on study leave with a timer so he knew how long to study for. (If he didn't get certain grades he didn't do year 13). In year 13 I left him to his own devices.
He's grades could have been better, he even agrees now.
He worked nights in Asda for a year after leaving sixth form. During this year he matured and now has a well paid job in marketing.

NoOneIsInterested Sat 19-Mar-16 16:36:31

With my kids I stepped back and let them get on with it. I supported them when they asked for help and when they worked hard I 'rewarded' them with top notch mothering - nice food, praise, lifts, easing off chores etc. I almost never nagged about homework. I genuinely believe that it's up to them and that its best if they think that too.
I think it's good if you make it crystal clear what you will and won't support them with in the future if they choose to do nothing. For example if he quits school it might be beneficial to let him know what his 'rent' and chores will be.

Has he got some uni open days lined up? Perhaps once he sees a Uni and course that he interested in it might motivate him to focus on his studies.

madein1995 Sat 19-Mar-16 18:00:54

I'm very much of the view that you let him get on with it, absolutely no nagging or planning revision timetables on your part. If he fails then needing to resit the year may well give him the kick up the bum he needs. He chooses to attend sixth form, it's not compulsory, and that decision has to be his and a decision to revise also has to be his. He may be going to uni in a year or so's time and needs to learn to manage it himself; he is not a child, he is closer to being an adult than he is a child.

It was only 4 years ago, but I decided to do a levels and worked hard (my parents wanted me to leave school and go out to work and though they didn't hinder me they didn't encourage me either), it was all left to me, and I did well. You seem lovely OP, like you really want to help, but I think the only real way is to let your son learn by himself. Of course I'm not a parent yet, but looking at it from a uni student's perspective, if I'd had to be nagged in sixth form I wouldn't have lasted my first year of uni. He's choosing to go to school, it's up to him to choose to work at it.

Coconutty Sat 19-Mar-16 18:05:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CostaRicanBananas Sun 20-Mar-16 14:22:17

Having to leave his school will crush DS, but that doesn't seem enough to make him want to work for his results. It was the same with his GCSEs - he came so horrifyingly close to not being able to stay on! And although he knew it all along, he still chose not to revise. At all. I cried with relief that he just about managed it - what he doesn't seem to realise is that I cried for him, not for myself. The potential feeling of humiliation and failure that he would have felt was almost palpable to me.

I agree entirely that I should not be micromanaging him to do well at school, but I panicked when I realised that he wasn't doing any revision.

If I compare school to the driving license situation: all his school friends applied for their license and are having their lessons - whether they took care of it themselves, I don't know. DS would have felt like the odd one out (and less than the others) for not getting on with his. However, that wasn't enough to prompt him to take action. It's the same with school. Just as far as short-term consequences go, he'll be crushed if he has to leave but that's not enough for him to want to work. And this is even before we go into the long-term impact.

We haven't been to Uni open days yet as we were focusing on institutions in Europe, which a number of his friends are also looking into.

I have practically begged him to take action, and explained that I gain no pleasure in taking away gadgets or grounding him. Nothing. The only thing that motivates him is his job as he gets something tangible at the end of each month.

Parents' evening on Tuesday. Excellent.

noblegiraffe Sun 20-Mar-16 14:26:57

Maybe it would have been better for him if he had failed to make the grade at GCSE to stay on. Maybe it would be better for him in the long term for him to be kicked out of sixth form. Awful to contemplate, but it could be the making of him if this is a problem affecting other areas of his life as well as his studies.

Why are you looking at European institutions with him when he's not actually likely to get the grades? You might find it more useful to look at BTECs at the local college as that's where he's more likely to end up if he doesn't pull his finger out. A dose of realism?

balia Sun 20-Mar-16 14:29:30

I agree with jalopy. The boundaries here seem very blurred - you even cry for him! I think you have to step back so he can step up.

Maryz Sun 20-Mar-16 14:30:30

I have similar.

Mine was to start his revision today. At 10 am. He is currently still in bed, on his phone.

Tomorrow morning I'm confiscating the phone from 9 to 5 in the hopes that sheer boredom will drive him to a bit of study. I'm not holding my breath though.

But what I won't do is engage, micromanage, yell, shout or show him I'm upset. That would be a real waste of time and upset me much more than him.

<grits teeth>

Peebles1 Sun 20-Mar-16 14:55:14

I know for a fact confiscating the phone wouldn't work with DD. She'd refuse to revise even more! She is 18 though, so I don't think that's the way to go. She does need to step up or learn by failing.

Last night she said 'I'm going to start revising next week. But if I don't you mustn't say anything or we'll end up falling out'! I don't know whether to be pleased at the declared intention to revise, or grrrr at the instruction to back off. I do need to detach though. I recognise that. She even said herself if she can't motivate herself to revise then there's no point going to uni. I think she's wiser than me sad But so lazy!! angry

DramaAlpaca Sun 20-Mar-16 14:59:45

Same here. It's difficult enough getting him to attend school let alone getting him to revise. I just want the whole exam thing to be over, tbh.

I've decided to back off completely as nagging & micromanaging does no good whatsoever and I'm the one who ends up stressed, not him.

Maryz Sun 20-Mar-16 15:00:31

I have no hope of confiscating his phone doing any good, but it will make me feel better.

He got it for his birthday on the understanding he would study though the Easter holidays. It's my phone; I pay the contract; he can go back to the old one that doesn't work and won't charge.

gamerchick Sun 20-Mar-16 15:16:17

100 quid for every A is the only thing I found that works, then stepping back and no nagging. They grow up eventually it's just a shame they're idiots during important education time.

But mines not working, I don't know how effective it would have been if he was earning his own coin.

CostaRicanBananas Sun 20-Mar-16 17:21:08

As far as I can tell, these are my options:

1. To let him carry on until end of year 13 even, and spend the next year and a half pretending I can't see that he's only going to school for the social aspect - they all seem to absolutely love school! The likelihood here is that he will end up as good as empty handed.

2. To pull him out at the end of this year and he can increase his hours at Waitrose, which is where he works part-time at the moment. Still no qualifications for uni but then he can start paying for his boarding and be productive.

Or tell him that he only stays at school if he covers the cost of bus passes & lunches? Maybe if it hurts his pocket, he'll be more appreciative of what he has?

I am not offering money in exchange for good results. He was supposed to go on a rugby tour in South Africa around GCSE time. Not even something as huge & eye-wateringly expensive as that (all his school rugby mates went) gave him the enthusiasm to work at school or put more effort into his fitness / rugby training. He so badly wanted to go hmmBUT he didn't want to work for it.

CostaRicanBananas Sun 20-Mar-16 17:24:47

Btw: I am not judging those that have gone down the reward route!!

As for uni, DS talks the talk and wants things...handed over on a plate. He even asked my mum if he could stay with one of her friends in the Netherlands when time came for him to attend open days sadbrewthanks

Wardrobedoors Sun 20-Mar-16 21:03:04

Another one here who is doing sod all revision and the bare minimum of school work with AS level exams starting in may. I have no advice for anyone as I'm at a loss as to what to do. Dd is doing even less than she did for GCSEs and she is definitely going to fail one of her subjects unless a miracle happens.
It makes me sad to see her wasting her time at 6th form as she really has it in her to get top grades but can't be bothered. However, the alternative is to leave and get a job and enter the real world of expenses and responsibility and she won't be able to hack that either. Just having to be at work for 9 am five days a week is a shocker for her!
I thought last year with GCSEs was bad but here we go again!

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