This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Talking to a teenage boy who always ends up crying(31 Posts)
He’s always been emotional but I have to admit I’m still surprised he cries so easily even at 15.
He’s a smart sensible boy who’s never really given us any trouble. But when we do have to speak to him, he cries very easily. It’s mostly school work that will provoke the biggest reaction. He’s just completed his mocks and some of the results aren’t what he would hope. He’s top set in everything and not really used to having to work at it. We’re trying to help him see that he does now (and he has been better at revision) but I also think he could have tried harder.
Every conversation though is so predictable! It’s getting really hard work. We’re sympathetic and trying to be helpful, speaking to him in a mature way, rather than telling him off like a child but it’s still so hard to have a proper conversation with him.
Any else been here and have any tips?
Maybe he needs less telling? Or less advising? Just trust him to get on with it. As you say, he's top set...tell him that you will only discuss it with him if he wants to and approaches you about it.
He may be feeling under a terrific amount of pressure.
Telling a kid (teenager) off about bad grades when the grades are already through is just mean and not very helpful at all, he'll feel helpless like he can't go back and change what happened and of course he's going to be a bit upset over that.
Teach him ways to cope with disappointments and stress instead of feeling awkward at the crying get to the bottom of why
Help him revise better for the real thing, utilise his time and still take plenty of rest and do things he enjoys.
If he's in the top set AND he's revising you need to chill and congratulate him on doing so well, and yourself for raising him to be the kind of kid that will just burst out crying instead of punching a hole in the wall and slamming doors because he didn't get what he wanted
We’re not telling him off (I did say that). We’re asking how we can help, asking about results, feedback etc. The school have sent home feedback postcards to be completed with the students and their parents together.
Dairy Op never said she'd "told him off" though. Just that she'd spoken to him.
Does he believe that he isn't living up to your high expectations of him, and that he is a disappointment to you?
I don't mean to sound harsh, but back off and stop badgering the lad.
Let him look at the feedback postcards and let him decide how to complete them. Only he will know what, if and by how much he needs any assistance from you. Let him take the lead and ask you for help if he needs it. Otherwise leave him be. And praise him.
We aren’t badgering him.
We do praise him (a lot).
He sounds very anxious to me, and stressed about exams.
If he's crying so easily it tells me there's something wrong and he's struggling with something.
Does that sound right to you?
Is he worried because he has discovered that he now has to work hard to get good grades? Some kids who sail through school get a real eye opener when they realise that it doesn't work like that the higher up the school you get. The step up in the amount of work/revision needed can come as a huge shock to some teens and sometimes being in the top set can be a hindrance rather than an advantage - they start to compare grades with each other and some can't deal with the pressure.
Is he worried that he has let you down?
I would be encouraging him to spend some time on non-academic stuff as a release and perhaps offer to help with an exam/revision timetable when required at a later date. He's young - his life shouldn't revolve around schoolwork.
I also think he could have tried harder
Does he know you think that? He does, doesn't he?
My 17 year old ds is a crier. He's always been sensitive. I don't see it as a bad thing at all. If he was a girl then it would be blamed on hormones. Boys have hormones too. My ds is dong a levels so the stress is getting to him again. We've found having a 1-1 with the pastoral team at college once a week has really helped.
Another mum also recommended Kalms and they really seemed to help her dd.
Sounds like you need to help him build resilience. I've heard good reviews of The Grit Guide for Teens.
I don't know whether he knows that you think he could have tried harder but there's a cautionary tale from my family about pressure on exams.
My dad, uncle and aunt ended up seriously mentally ill because of the ridiculous pressure my horrendous snob of a grandmother (that's a comment about my Grannie OP, absolutely not aimed at you at all) put on them over exams at university.
My uncle and aunt were noticed and helped early because they were at medical school and got help.
My dad ended up weighing 4.5 stone, and lost all his teeth through bulimia and anorexia because it was the only control he had and there was such enormous and unfair pressure on him. He was eventually hospitalised for 18 months.
Grades and exams are never, ever more important than mental health and they're certainly not more important than your child's welfare.
I'm not saying for a second that you're anything like my awful grandmother, but it's a true story of how pressure can manifest in really unhealthy damaging ways.
Poor kid. It's no bad thing that he feels able to 'let it all out' in front you his parents. Some can't, they're all buttoned up.
Mocks are usually harder than the real exams, they are marked more severely. He'll probably do well when it comes to the real thing.
Holidays will start in a week or so, let him enjoy himself and not think about the mock results.
Just tell him, what will be will be. My little boy is also so, so, sensitive and I think it’s great in this harsh world. But, I think it’s important he learns that failing (board games, sports day etc) is completely acceptable and a part of life when you’re grown up (job interviews, relationships etc) otherwise it’ll be a shock when he’s older.
My school told us days before our real exams that they’d marked our mocks down a grade to make us work harder over the summer 😳
I ask my son, to work hard and take school seriously, but I never push him on anything ever, as he is who he is and might end up being good with his hands rather than his brains, it’s not my decision what he wants to do after school. Happiness, as a PP said, outweighs everything else.
This isn’t new to the exam season, it’s just the recent example. He’s just more sensitive than other children and I do see that as a positive in certain situations. However, yes I do think he needs to build some resilience. It is a shill I think we need to help him work on. If he can’t handle his parents saying ‘do you think you did enough revision?’ ‘What can we help you with?’ then how will he cope in employment or at university (which he wants to do).
This isn’t a case of hot housing Parents trying to load on the pressure for great grades. Neither Dh or I went to uni, aren’t in academic jobs. This is purely wondering how we can help our teen cope with tricky situations and conversations without always resorting to years. It isn’t a new thing, I’m not worried about a sudden decline in his mental health with exams, he’s always cried easily. Some people do! I don’t want to change him, but wondered if anyone had any tips to better equip us all to get through challenging conversations between us and for him in the outside world.
rachelover40 thank you, I agree
We have had this with our dc. I think building confidence and resilience is very important. It is ok to be emotional but also we all have to learn how to cope with our emotions and find good ways to express them. It may be that he is feeling stressed, angry, upset and his way of coping is to cry, being able to identify what he is feeling may help him build other ways of dealing with things. Never tell him crying is wrong. He is at a huge time of change and stress in his life, if he can find a positive out let for emotions it may help him. Sport or just screaming into a pillow to let it all out. Give him space to talk to you, be positive about his school work but if he is not pulling his weight gently let him know. Ds now 19 and still emotional but that is who he is.
I haven't experienced this and I'm sure it's troubling for you BUT when I was a teenager going through exams, the pressure I felt was massive and I wouldn't communicate at all. I ended up having a kind of anxiety breakdown. Maybe your son being emotionally expressive is better than bottling it up like I did? I thought if I didn't succeed academically I would fall off the edge of the earth and it's not the case - the pressure kids feel at this time of life can feel insurmountable but i understand it's hard to encourage them to do well while not pressuring too much. I hope you figure it out and he gets to a happier place.
Let him cry. No one would bat an eyelid if it was a girl having a few stressy tears about school work.
Its a tricky one. Its nice he has parents who care. But tip-toing round him, trying to be helpful with exams, etc can backfire. Sometimes we all need some space to process our feelings, sometimes we need some help, and its not always an easy call. Though I have found myself trying to help my own DS16 through his GCSEs, I do think sometimes parents now are involving themselves too much and just adding to the exam stress. Re. crying generally - only you know your own DS, its hard to comment on here. Agree, with MumontheHill, some people are just more emotional or cry more easily, its who they are.
If he can’t handle his parents saying ‘do you think you did enough revision?’ ‘What can we help you with?’ then how will he cope in employment or at university (which he wants to do)
It depends how you look at it. Parents are not employers or lecturers. Crying might be the only way he can show his parents (who he feels more directly emotionally beholden to) in this case that he doesn't want your help? You're assuming you can help him in your question.
Another thing, you could ask him softly, sympathetically when he's crying, why he's crying. It might help him 'verbalise' what he's feeling - which can be helpful for him. If he wants to.
This is his life. His LIFE!!! Not your life. Leave. Him. Alone.
A boy crying is fucking brilliant. Be grateful he can express his feelings. Count it as a major success. Boys need to cry. They need to nature into men who can cry. Please save us from uncrying males