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Does DS(14) need to fail to buck up his ideas?

(25 Posts)
OverTheHill50 Mon 06-Feb-17 13:06:22

Tearing my hair out with DS2 - age 14/Year 10

Disorganised, lazy, rude, entitled...

Attitude to schoolwork seems to be to do the bare minimum at the last minute. He is fairly average academically but seems to be managing to scrape A/B grades despite lack of application.

But I feel like I have been 'propping him up' all of secondary school - nagging, reminding, cajoling, making sure he remembers and has what he need for school trips etc.
I assumed it would get better as he got older, but it just hasn't. However much I try to 'coach' him to do things himself, it always seems to end up with a massive argument and me having to stand over him to get things done.

He has been doing bronze D of E at school and has to submit all his final materials this week. There are still two sections to complete. Although he has done the 'activities' (with some prompting, nagging and reminding from me angry) he hasn't got them signed off.
I asked him again last night to email the assessors to ask them to sign off his inputs, but turns out he still hasn't done it as he was 'too tired' last night hmm

I am soooooo sick of this. If he gets his DofE it will be a fraud as I have had to push him through it.
I am inclined to remind him one last time tonight and then leave it and let him fail. I wonder if having the embarrassment and humiliation of failing might bring him to his senses?
WWYD?

rollonthesummer Mon 06-Feb-17 13:11:55

But I feel like I have been 'propping him up' all of secondary school - nagging, reminding, cajoling, making sure he remembers and has what he need for school trips etc

A lot of those things could be defined as 'parenting'!

My 14 year old isn't rude, lazy or entitled but he does need reminding to do things and I would check he had what he needed for school trips.

PaintingOwls Mon 06-Feb-17 13:16:27

Do you think he will be bothered if he fails?

OverTheHill50 Mon 06-Feb-17 13:18:45

rollonthesummer - yes, I agree, about the fact that it's parenting, and I was (and am) fine about doing all those things for both DS1 and DS2 so long as I think they are genuinely struggling or busy.

It's just that with DS2 he is always so ungrateful and angry when I end up forcing him to do things which he has to do (homework, packing bags etc).
And I kind of assumed that they would gradually do more of it, independently, as they got older. This HAS happened with DS1, but DS2 just seems to be happy to sit back and not lift a finger until things are at crisis point!

Just wondered if anyone has ever tried the cold turkey 'you're on your own now' approach?

WhatHaveIFound Mon 06-Feb-17 13:20:54

I agree with the PP that it's parenting rather than propping up but i would be inclined to remind him one last time about the DofE submission before leaving it to him.

I told my disorganised DD (15yo) that i wouldn't do any organising/chasing when she took on DofE as i figured she needed to do it for herself and i thought it would teach her a lesson in taking on too many things. She's already learning 3 instruments, is taking 2 GCSEs early and does an activity all day Saturday.

She's managed to organise everything so far so i feel my touch stance has worked.

motherinferior Mon 06-Feb-17 13:25:13

Well, I am not that dreadful a parent but I don't spend my life nagging and propping and cajoling - and I stopped checking stuff for school trips sometime around Y6.

ferriswheel Mon 06-Feb-17 13:25:53

Could you explain to him, in a kid way, what you've said to us? A kind of, 'how much should I parent you and how much should I allow you to get on with it?' Or could you start offering the same standard of care for himself himself that he offers himself? For example, if he puts in a sixty per cent effort could you start giving him 60% of his tea? Or 60% of his washing?

I have three sons born within 33 months of each other. I'll be watching this thread with interest!!!

motherinferior Mon 06-Feb-17 13:27:34

So I'd go cold turkey. If he fails, it's not the end of the world and will give him a wake up call. By 14, one can expect a reasonable amount of motivation and organisation. My two are far from perfect but they can manage pretty ok.

Bluntness100 Mon 06-Feb-17 13:33:20

I actually think this is predominantly a boy thing with exceptions in both genders. My friends with sons are always having to do this, where as I've never had to do it with my daughter. And friends with daughters don't seem to have to do it or to the same extent either.

Part of it could be he knows he can get it done at the last minute and he knows you will remind him, I don't think it means he will grow up to be a lazy adult, when push comes to shove he will step up, but you're definetly not alone.

alisoncoggs Mon 06-Feb-17 13:39:22

I could have written your post a few months ago. What helped was me giving DS the biggest dressing down he has ever had in his life and me spelling it out for him the consequences of not starting to take a bit of responsibility. It seemed to sink in.
He then got a paper round on the understanding that he was to set his alarm and get himself up early without disturbing the rest of the household. 4 weeks in and it's going well. Well, the mornings anyway. Still have yet to see much application to his studies in the evenings hmm

steppemum Mon 06-Feb-17 14:37:52

Bluntness - nope. Not gender, much more personality.
Some kids are more together, some are more last minute scrapers, some are super organised, some kick against all attempts to organise them.

I would tell, him you aren't prepared to nag him any more for his Dof E stuff, the deadline is xxx, he needs to get it handed in. Ball in your court.

My ds is 14 and while I do nag him, he will always get the stuff handed in in the nick of time because otherwise the school penalises them. So the consequences come through school, and he doesn't want them. that is very helpful for me!

I would start to do the same with other stuff. Here is the list for your trip, anything you need, you need to ask by Friday, otherwise it is up to you to pack your bag etc. Then leave him to the consequences.
No lunch? then he will remember next time, no teen has ever starved by missing lunch and so on.

I did this with ds and school cooking. I go shopping on Monday and the deal was he gave me the list on Monday or he organised it himself, cue several last minute texts received while going round Asda! In fact I would have helped him if he forgot, but the expectation was that he did it. Which he did.
Same with pe kit. he is supposed to get uniform out before bed, and pack his bag. If there are no ironed shirts, or his pe kit isn't clean I am happy to sort it then (unless it has been festering on his bedroom floor) but I can't sort it in the morning with 20 minutes until the bus goes. And I am REALLY unsympathetic if he finds out in the morning his pe kit is dirty. I just say - I could have washed it last night......
It is step by step backing off and making him take the responsibility. If he gets into trouble for not having pe kit, then next time he may remember.

TheEdgeofSeventeen Tue 07-Feb-17 21:22:38

Well I was lazy as hell as a teenager And still am and my mum always forced me to do everything until around year 8 and it was hell. It was nagging and yelling and pushing pushing pushing until I just felt like I didn't want to do it because I dreaded the activity because she wouldn't leave it the hell alone and let me get on with it. When she stopped, even though I did sometimes forget to do homework or slack off, I still managed and did a lot better because I didn't dread having to tell her I had work to do because shed always be nagging at me every few hours even though I have already decided on a time when i was going to do it. I went from set 3 English to Extension set within a year because she wasn't having a go about my writing or how much effort i'd put in and I began to LOVE the subject ( I now do it at MA).
Id say have a little sit down and tell him that you feel like you're always having to push him for a bit and does he think that if you let him sort himself out and deal with things like school work etc that he would actually do it and you could both relax a bit - because you don't like nagging and neither does he- and say what if i just let you get on with it for X amount of time and if you're doing it and managing then we make it a permanent thing but if you start to drop grades or miss important things you'll have to start making sure he does them again.
Each person is different, he may just start to fail like my SB is or he may thrive as I did. All you can do is try.
Oh , and D of E I just lie and say i have it and noones ever checked ( I DID do it all but sadly the coordinator was paralysed in an accident just before the deadlines and so nothing was handed in).

TheEdgeofSeventeen Tue 07-Feb-17 21:29:43

Also sometimes ( and if their grades are decent then they probably are) Last minute people are fine - Im a last min person and always will be :') I did my Dissertation in a week ( Don't you dare tell my mother lol) and got a first so ... don't panic if he hands it in by the scrape of his teeth, just worry if he doesn't hand it in.

WankersHacksandThieves Tue 07-Feb-17 21:33:23

I have one exactly the same. He has completed his dofe stuff last May and had it signed off and I scanned it in and emailed it to him but he still hasn't uploaded it. It does my nut in.

He is lazy but not really entitled or rude (until I start calling him on his laziness and disorganisation).

Latest is that he has (so he says) made all his parents night appointments but hasn't written them down so it's now on Thursday night and I still have no idea when the appointments are. He got a flea in his ear at the weekend and was supposed to go to the teachers, ask for the list and write them down - now apparently nearly all his teachers weren't in....but it's not his fault hmm I've tried explaining the impact on others but it goes in one ear and out the other.

He is sticking to his study plan as long as I remind him to get started but we are feeling he doesn't seem to be able to structure his work unless we are very specific with him.

He loses everything he touches also. We are honestly starting to think that he may be dispraxic. He has to type his exams as his writing is shocking.

Ds1 just seemed to be able to grow up and take responsibility for himself without us doing anything. DS2 is just such hard work. I also think he has no confidence in himself so when he does chat back it's totally defensive.

I love him with all my heart and would give him the moon if he cried for it but he needs to grow up and all the gentle pushes we make just aren't working.

On the tough love side, we tried that and he just ended up thoroughly miserable and upset and it resulted in letters home from school about missed work etc. Despite me feeling angry, I don't think it is that he doesn't care, I just think he is incapable and he is lazy which is a horrible trait but I think just linked to low self esteem etc as well.

pinkhousesarebest Tue 07-Feb-17 21:34:43

Oh God this is us. Not though with ds (14too but very organised and a hard worker) but with dd (almost 13). She is last minute girl to a tee, hopelessly disorganised, has great belief in flying by the seat of her pants. School is very much on her case but with little effect. Am already worn out. Our relationship is buckling with my attempts to keep her from failing. I feel I should stand back too to let her step up. But I can't, can I?

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 07-Feb-17 21:36:36

If he is getting A and B grades (or grades 6 and 7 in new money) in the middle of Y10 without applying himself then his academic ability is well above average. Most Y10 students will improve by at least one grade in the next 15-16 months, if not two. He might be one of those students who coasts through GCSEs with little effort.

cdtaylornats Tue 07-Feb-17 22:02:55

Friend of mine got his DS 15 a job portering in a local hospital to show him the kind of job he would be qualified for

WankersHacksandThieves Tue 07-Feb-17 22:06:49

Friend of mine got his DS 15 a job portering in a local hospital to show him the kind of job he would be qualified for

Great idea CD, in my case however my DS is going to be a famous bass player in a rock band (he's only been playing for 2 months) so it won't be an issue hmm

measles64 Tue 07-Feb-17 22:11:53

I stopped nagging most of the time (well no-one is perfect), just remove the x box controllers and make him hand over his phone. It is amazing how it concentrates his mind on his homework. He is year 11 and has exams coming up, so there is no time to allow him to fail now.

I have had 3 boys and two of them were disorganised.

specialsubject Wed 08-Feb-17 13:40:51

Let go on the d of e which can be sacrificed. If he fails, his fault.

steppemum Wed 08-Feb-17 13:50:20

Great idea CD, in my case however my DS is going to be a famous bass player in a rock band (he's only been playing for 2 months) so it won't be an issue

grin grin

lljkk Wed 08-Feb-17 18:58:59

"Just wondered if anyone has ever tried the cold turkey 'you're on your own now' approach?"

yes, me, mostly. I'd still encourage & map out with them what their options will be in future that go with the path they are creating for themselves. Basically I am not a saint, I can't spend my life chivvying the horse that won't drink. I don't have whatever it takes to do that. They have to find another path consistent with whatever intrinsic motivation they can find. It's the best I can do.

Athrawes Wed 08-Feb-17 19:39:49

I would try the cold turkey on a "safe to fail" activity. So, DoE is a good one because if he doesn't get it all done then, actually, what's the worst that can happen. He will learn more self management if you LET him self manage than if you always do it for him. He will probably stumble, fall and maybe even fail the first few times. But he will learn eventually.

I speak as a teacher who sees a lot of molly coddled entitled year 13 boys.

Draylon Thu 09-Feb-17 11:40:02

In answer to the OP (and I have rtft!)- and sorry, this is long!

I have cut'n'pasted a post I have on the Y11 thread, which obviously applies to 15/16 year olds but I think has relevance:
***
For those of you really struggling as you watch your able-enough DCs apparently chucking it all away, not revising, eye-rolling, door-slamming, lying about after-school revision sessions, lying about homework.

Been there.

We're surrounded by high-achieving, focused young people. (Or are they the ones we notice? And compare?) they can distort our view.

DS1 was not that person. In Y10 the school put him (and 19 other boys...) into their mentored program, The BLUB Club (Bright but Lazy and Underachieving Boys grin).

Now, tbf, you might eye-roll yourself when you hear that my concept of 'failure' is GCSE predicteds of 6 x A, 4 x B; but getting 2 x A, 6 x B, 2 x C grin. So just squeaked onto his randomly chosen A levels, at a forgiving 6th form.

He just didn't revise (for his GCSEs) effectively or consistently. Or much, at all. Despite all our and the school's input. He fibbed about what work he'd done, I nagged, I threatened, I shouted, I begged. From Y11 Xmas onwards, relationships effectively broke down between me and DS1, and more so between academic DH and DS1. We didn't have much actual door-slamming, just living in a different room to us, disinterest, lots of arms folded eye-rolling, sneer upon the lips.

About Feb half term (Y11), DS was 15.75, I made a decision. We talked. I told him I was no longer going to nag. I was going to remind, I would offer help if asked. Tho I reserved the right to lose my rag from time to time! It was painful; my tongue was raw from biting it other than to say 'You know what you should be doing'. And walk on.

GCSE results in, bit of a shoulder shrug, thence onto 6th form (doing Maths, Physics, Geography and Economics shock). You can probably guess what happened. More of the same. Good attendance, but low engagement in what he was doing, poor results. Shoulder shrugging. Dropped Maths to Use Of Maths 7 weeks in; dropped AS Physics altogether at Easter.

However, once into Sixth Form, I will go as far as to say scales fell from my eyes. I stopped 'comparing' us to my friends with their 10 A* GCSE, committed, bright-eyed communicative, compliant DCs. I recognised we weren't looking at RG, I stepped back and had a serious rethink on DS's behalf.

I do think my non-combative approach to DS (though while asking him how he felt about his GCSE results- he says he knows he could've done better, but also says he felt his predicteds were way too optimistic- he may be right!)- allowed us to have the constructive conversation about leaving sixth form post AS levels (D Geog, E Economics, U Use of Maths...). Unlike school where every 'So what?' from him was greeted with yet further intervention and concern, Sixth Form's response to his failure was A Shoulder Shrug. The tables had turned.

He was basically old enough by then, and mature enough to see that the ranks of the rara squad who had been there from 4-16 to pick him up at each failure... were thinning.

Possibly this was his 'needing to fail' moment.

He's now 17.5 and now in the first year of a 2 year Level 3 Extended Diploma BTEC . Since last summer, DS has grown up. We have the odd 'moment'- but he recognises his future is in his hands. He is no longer 'failing'.

I rarely need to nag, tho he knows if he 'fails' this year, he's out getting a FT job. Not to punish him. But to assist in reminding him how his life is in his hands. At 14-16, he just didn't 'get' this. His brain just wasn't wired to.

So, in conclusion, my endless nagging, reminding, chivvying and cajoling was what I had to do as a parent of a non-compliant DS. It also helped me to know I was doing my best, however misguided it might have been. The Talk (about the importance of Doing well at School) didn't seem to cut muster; the school's interventions didn't appear to make any difference. But I wonder if all this is quietly cumulative? That one day, it falls into place and they 'get' it? He has found his 'intrinsic motivation'. We're not out of the woods, yet- he has to pass his BTEC tho 4 Distinctions so far looks more promising!

Keep the Faith.

OverTheHill50 Fri 10-Feb-17 11:20:31

Draylon - what can I say? THANK YOU!

I am sure there is some of exactly the same stuff going on here for us. DS is in a high-performing school, where although he can do well, he will NEVER be top, because, as you say, there are lots of 10 A* type students.
Even worse (for DS) is the fact that his older brother is one of them, so he has the comparisons at home as well as school.

We definitely need to rethink our approach and our expectations and try to have some meaningful conversations with him.

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