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How can I *really* help my son (Yr 11) without losing it and shouting at him!

(50 Posts)
BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 15:09:15

DS1, 15, is a lovely boy. Quiet, considerate, reliable and hard working. Clever at school and a reasonably high achiever. At the start of Yr 10 he was predicted to get mostly As or A*s for his GCSEs.

But over the last few weeks he has gradually changed - teenage hormones kicking in I suppose - and is now morose, hugely uncommunicative, can be rude and seems to lack enthusiasm for most things and people.

I came across some of his geography coursework today, that had been returned by his teacher after its initial drafting, and it was very clear not only how poor his work had been (sketchy, not finished properly, superficial, the minimum he could get away with) but also just how frustrated his teacher was with this piece of work - because he can do so much better.

We have had the same with some history coursework, which he has had to do all through the summer holidays, but led us to believe that it was a minor piece of homework. It isn't of course, because it counts towards his GCSE. He had left it until the very last minute (which we wouldn't have let him do if we had known it was coursework), and is now patently scrabbling around just to get something handed in, rather than doing a good piece of work. And this is supposed to be his best subject and the one he is most interested in!

I know that it's tough being a teenager, but I'm also very aware that this is really his one chance, and I really don't want him to mess up his GCSEs.

How can I help him? I know that I have to stay calm, and not get annoyed with him, but what's the best approach?

I have already put in a call to his year tutor today, and am waiting for her to call me back, but wondered if anyone else had been through this - either as a parent or a teacher.

I'm really, really upset about this and so want to help turn him around as quickly as I can.

juuule Fri 07-Sep-07 17:01:30

It isn't really his one chance. I'm sure if he wanted to, he would have other opportunities. This is a very good opportunity but not his one and only chance. Sorry if I'm not much help but I find it frustrating when people seem to think and convey to their children that it's end of the world if they don't pass all their gcses at 16.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 17:05:19

No - I know what you mean - but it would be a terrible waste of his time and his abilities if he messes them up, and it's this which I'm trying to avoid.

Have already failed on the shouting front. Came home and found all his clothes tossed on the floor, him watching TV when he knows he has to do his course work, empty glasses left around ... sad

Fauve Fri 07-Sep-07 17:08:25

It sounds like there is a problem bothering him. I wouldn't write it off as just hormones until you've had a chance to try and get to the bottom of it. I would try and spend as much time with him as you can doing stuff he enjoys, eg can you take him out to the cinema and then a pizza and try and get him to open up over the pizza? It could be bullying, lack of or acquisition of a girlfriend, who knows. I would personally try not to focus solely on the academic side, but on his lack of happiness.

Fauve Fri 07-Sep-07 17:09:53

Oh, hello, BTW, BIWI - didn't notice it was you! (We met at the recent meet-up smile) Good luck with this...

Fauve Fri 07-Sep-07 17:14:26

Might see you in Pizza Hut with my one wink <whispers> I was under another name at the meet-up...(but I did declare this identity, too.)

Blandmum Fri 07-Sep-07 17:15:54

Does he know what he wants to do when he leaves school? It might be helpful for him to find out what qualifications he will need to take the next step.

You also need to make it clear to him that the Bank of MUMMY is not going to be funding his ipod needs post 16 unless he is either in the Sixth form (or collage/ apprentiship) or working.

Get him a crapola saterday job and let him see just how hard you have to work in minimum pay jobs.

You need to arrange a meeting with the form tutor wher your son can be presented with his current projected grades, based on his current level of work.....this often pulls them up sharply, when they see the facts on paper....otherwise they often have a tendency to ignore it/ blank it out.

and also find out if something is worrying him etc

Tortington Fri 07-Sep-07 17:23:33

of course its not his only chance

told my dd that if she thinks this year is a popularity contest - we will see who is laughing at her - when she has to do re-sits. and her mates are doing a-levels.


i agree with you though - when you can see they are pissing it away frustrating.

longgggg chat is needed. where somehow you ask pointed questions that encourage more than gruntinggrin

he might just be tired and pissed off

he might think that you are putting too much pressure on

he might want to go out and let off steam once in a while.


whateer it is - there is a solution.

cos you know hes a good kid at heart.

as MB says - you just have to make it perfectly clear - during everyday life - make it a culture - he either studies or works at tesco when he is 18.

he chooses

juuule Fri 07-Sep-07 17:26:26

It's so frustrating, isn't it? We had this with one of ours. G&T,Predicted A's etc. until the start of y10. Went downhill from there. I think it was a combination of not being able or willing to handle the pressure and then falling behind which made things much worse. The more pressure that was applied, the more he rebelled. The situation was badly handled by the school who among other things insisted on telling him he would amount to nothing unless he passed and applied more and more pressure which inflamed the situation until ds totally disengaged. Also, if we had followed the school's instructions to withdraw privileges, etc. I think he would have had a complete nervous breakdown. He did still pass several gcse's but with nothing like the predicted grades even though he undoubtedly has the ability to do so if he wanted to. However, his experiences in the last 18m at school left him with little confidence in his academic abilities and no desire whatsoever to enter an academic establishment again.
I think what I am saying is be aware that some just don't respond well to grinding down tactics to make them perform.
Hopefully, your son will pick up and get stuck in.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 18:07:41

<waves at Fauve - wondered where you'd been!>

Thanks for all your kind and wise words.

I hadn't really considered that he might be unhappy about anything, so that is definitely something to think about. He's probably unhappy mainly with me because I do seem to be shouty mummy a lot of the time. Mainly because he keeps doing things he's been told not to do and not doing things he should be doing!

I have been up to see him in his room and apologised for shouting earlier on, but explained that I am very worried about him.

It is the pissing away of his potential and his seeming complacency and preparedness to accept second best that I find puzzling and frustrating.

And there will definitely be no bank of mummy and daddy either - I have made it clear for some time that when he reaches 16 I expect him to get some kind of Saturday job.

I've left messages with a couple of his teachers, so hopefully between us all we can get through to him how important this is.

And I must remember to try carrot as well as stick - oh, but it's hard sometimes!

Fauve Fri 07-Sep-07 18:31:50

smile

He's not being teased for being a geek/neek, is he? My ds is known as a neek, but it doesn't seem to bother him too much atm. (Anyway, I don't think he is neeky, in that he's not socially inept, just retains facts.) But I can see it could make a boy want to act stupid.

Blandmum Fri 07-Sep-07 18:33:23

Get hard facts from the school that you can present him with. Stuff he can't argue with/ignore

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 18:35:31

Don't even know what a neek is!

I doubt he's being teased as he's generally quite popular - at least as far as I know.

But definitely something else for me to explore, I suppose. As he has always been at the top end of his class I suppose there could be something in that that's regarded as 'uncool'.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 07-Sep-07 18:37:05

MB - I already have some hard facts in the form of some of his marks/results. He has some great teachers as well, who I know will be keen to ensure that we can work this out.

But definitely agree it has to be based on what can be measured rather than just my views/beliefs.

I'm just glad that I know the school will be there to help! (At least I hope so ...)

Blandmum Fri 07-Sep-07 18:38:50

If he is letting the work slip to be cool, it can sometimes he helpful if the teacher give him a public telling off about his lack of work. That way he can save face when explaining to his mates why he now has to work.

I have arranged such public bollockings with boys in advance, often moving them from mates who help the distraction. That way the kids save face, and i get the blame for splitting them up from freinds who they know distract them

Blandmum Fri 07-Sep-07 18:39:41

but it can sometimes help to have all the stuff in front of him at once, that way you can't get the Mr X hates me excuse.

He needs to see the whole picture

zebrahead Fri 07-Sep-07 20:15:51

Threads like this really annoy me; I am a teenager and when I completed my GCSEs I was having a really rough time. I find the lack of understanding about how difficult school can be for young people really frustrating.

*predicted to get mostly As or A*s for his GCSEs.

really his one chance

turn him around*

OP - it sounds like you're putting your son under a lot of pressure to do well and even if you don't mean it, the way you're probably conveying yourself is that if your son doesn't achieve straight A's, he will have failed. That kind of pressure is really counterproductive; you don't feel like you can do anything well enough and so what's the point in trying anymore?

Don't blame it on hormones, don't involve the school yet. Talk to him, ask him how he feels. It's too often that parents think their teenagers are aliens who won't communicate; make him feel like you're going to listen to him, that what he has to say is valid and that he doesn't just have to say what you want him to say.

I honestly think if you give him some space and let him relax a bit he will come round; at the end of the day all he needs is 5 A-C's anyway. If he does his A - Levels his GCSE results will become pretty insignifcant anyway.

browniedropout Fri 07-Sep-07 20:28:48

zebrahead, are you a teenager who has just dropped in like a voyeur, or are you here to help. Some of your comments are great but if you are a teeanger alerted because mum left her pass word on the computer you need to know "mums need somewhere to chat, find help, guidance too". Teenagers have loads of places - mums just have HERE.

zebrahead Fri 07-Sep-07 20:40:35

Brownie dropout -
http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=forums+for+mums&meta=

There are loads of forums around where parents can talk about parenting.

My input wasn't meant to offend anyone - it's just the perspective of a teenager. The OP obviously wants the best for her son, but from her post it just seems that she is focussing solely on the outcome of his GCSEs which I think is kind of beside the point.

gawkygirl Fri 07-Sep-07 20:51:43

Same as juuule: DD is supposedly Gifted, predicted As but only got Bs.

I have spent the last 16 years supporting and encouraging her and I am gutted to see, despite my best efforts, how unmotivated she is. I have decided for the sake of my sanity to leave her to her own devices for sixth form. I have to remind myself that it’s her life, not mine- I can’t live it for her- but it seems such a waste of potential.

Zebrahead: what hurts most is that I gave her loads of opportunities that I never had as a child and she squanders them.

juuule Fri 07-Sep-07 20:57:01

zebrahead fwiw I think your post is excellent.

zebrahead Fri 07-Sep-07 21:08:52

gawkygirl - I can understand your frustration in relation to missing opportunities and perhaps sometimes young people take all these different options for granted. However, I also believe that all the opportunities can bring difficulties; perhaps for this generation there is too much structure and not enough time allowed for children and teenagers to just 'be.' In some ways I think teenagers are spoilt for choice and have to choose which direction they want to take their life in, when they are perhaps not ready to make such choices and it is difficult.

Blandmum Fri 07-Sep-07 21:11:34

Hmm, there have been 'structures' in place for quite a while though.

I was in school 20 years ago and we had O levels at 16 and A levels at 18.

And while there were no KS1/2/3 tests there were still the horrors of the 11 plus. And exams at the end of the Christmas and summer terms when I was in Primary school.

My parents didn't have that, but then they left school at 14 and went into the structure of the Adult world of work.

themoon66 Fri 07-Sep-07 22:24:58

BecauseImWorthIt.... I know exactly how you are feeling. Your OP could have been mine last April sad

It's all about feeling sad for the lost opportunity I think. Like DS has this amazingly clever brain, way better than mine, but he wastes it.

I can understand how upset you must feel. I wept buckets over DS and his lack of coursework last Easter.

themoon66 Fri 07-Sep-07 22:27:30

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/692/303177

That was my thread.... its a bit long, but loads of wonderful advice from MNers who are teachers or MNers who have been through it, dealt with it etc.

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