21 answers

Mom Seeking Advice - Chicago,IL

Good Day,

I am frustrasted. I have two sons, 10 and 12 years old. They are now stealing food from the freezer. I have explained to them that they are stealing from themselves and this makes no sense and they will stop this. Whenever I am not at home(due to working late or running errands) they both run over my mother. My Mother is in her 70s. Any suggestions will greatly be appreciated. Also, my 10 year old was an all A and B grade student; now that he is in 5th grade and it is somewhat challenging- he is bringing home all F's. I have met with the teacher and principal of the school- the bottom line is that he does not do the work. He doesn't even tell the teacher or myself if he needs help. I review the work that he does bring home and go over it with him. I asked for a syllabus from the teacher-she does not have one. I call her every week to get what is expected of him weekly and to ask her to make sure he puts all the books he needs to complete assignments in his backpack. Again, any and all suggestions will greatly be appreciated.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank all of you wonderful MOMS for your comments and suggestions. I will definitely put in force the assignment notebook.
Also, by stealing food, I meant ice cream-I buy it by the tubs. We all love it. I also use as a disipline and it is here when the stealing begans, but I will stop buying altogether. I have found a sitter for both sons, so they will no longer be at home with my mother. I have and continue to instill in sons respect to all especially elders and discipline when not practiced. I have taken everything away from them-tv, game time, electronic games, silly time. Now it is strickly homework, study and reading(including weekends) until a change in behavior and grades. I have also told son that it is his responsibility and I and his teacher are working together. If he doesn't then it is truly on him and he will have to accept and deal with the consequences.

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My 9 year old son refuses to eat his dinner because he's "full" (which means he just doesn't like it,) and then sneaks into the kitchen in the middle of the night for pop tarts. Are they hungry or what do they do with food?

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My mother had the same problem with my brother. Out of the blue he started failing. He wasn't doing his work or turning in anything that my mother made him do. This is also I system I saw used in a school I worked for once.

You get him an assignment notebook. Go to the school and show the teacher what you have and explain what you would like her to do to help you with your son.

He will be resonsible for writing all assignments in his notebook. At the end of each lesson, he will have his teacher sign the assignment book and make comments that need to be made. He has to take the book to her and have her sign it. She should not be required to remember it since she has a whole classroom of children to attend to.

When he gets home, you will check his assignment book. You will help him with assignments, studying for tests, creating projects and so forth. You can address discipline problems that very day. You will then sign for that evening and make any comments you need to make.

If your son does not bring home the assignment notebook, you will need to punish him by taking away a privelage and then also follow-up by going to his school the next day or calling the teacher that night. It is important that he knows this is required of him and that you are both trying to help him succeed. If you don't check it every night and follow through on consequences, the system won't work.

Make sure that you and the teacher know what he is supposed to do and what each of you is going to do so everyone is on the same page.

My mother also sat in on my brother's classes a few times which he found very embarrassing. She explained that he was not be responsible for himself so she needed to treat him like a small child. He went through this phase in sixth grade.

It didn't take long before he started to turn in his assignments, write everything down, and do well again.

Remember he's only a child and he won't take responsibility if he thinks he doesn't have to. It will be a pain to be so diligent, but it is necessary to help him succeed.

1 mom found this helpful

Give them a section in the pantry/fridge for snacks, post a menu. if they eat the ingredients for a meal they miss that meal. But make sure the snacks and meals are enough for a growing boy. I liked the idea of hiring a college student. You could even exchange room an board for her/his watching your sons.

Is there a school social worker you could talk to for suggestions? Perhaps your son needs a tutor. It sounds like you're running yourself ragged and you need help.

I don't know what you mean by the sons are stealing food from the freezer. If they are hungry and they make themselves something, what's the problem? As for running over your mom, I guess that means they are not listening to her or are taking advantage of her.

Maybe you need to hire a college student for after school care. This person could help your sons with their homework, prepare a snack, and make sure the boys do their chores.

Good luck!

It sounds like your children are not mature enough to be home unsupervised. You may need to make other arrangements for them.

My son started having difficulty with school when he was in 6th grade. Until then he was a good student. We discovered he had ADHD and during Jr. High it is harder for kids with ADHD to keep up with all their body changes at the same time. We put my son on medication and his grades went back up to A's and B's. I'm not saying that's the problem but it took us over a year to figure out what was wrong...after fighting with him every day and constantly talking to the teacher about his homework. If he has an assignment notebook see if the teacher will check it over each day to see all his homework is written down and sign her initials and you can initial it each night after you see it also. About how he is treating your mother. You could let him know how much you depend on him to be obedient to his grandmother and be her helper when you aren't there. Let him know that he is an important part of the family and teach him how to respect his grandmother. I would try to get him into the school counselor to see if she can help find out why he isn't doing any homework.

First I'll address the food issue. I know you are a single Mom so I will assume the budget is tight and you have little money to go get more when the food supply runs out. Are the kids still really hungry or is there a bigger issue of depression, drugs, learning disabilities, psychiatric break tied with puberty, puberty. I know I was amazed at what my God son put away while I was staying with them. He came home from school and made some chili(I would say enough for a family of four) and ate it with 1/4 box of crackers, then asked his Mom when dinner would be ready. An hour later he downed 2 hearty helpings of dinner and later asked his Mom for chips and salsa. Before bed he came in and ate a banana, apple and some carrot sticks. She said it is like this every night. If no one is obese or getting there, check all else and if they need more food and you need help with getting more food there are many resources for help. While this will be hard for you to do with homework don't accept responsibility for his work. He must, he is the one who needs to make the choice, but have him understand the consequences for bad/poor choices. I went to a parenting seminar last week and got alot of good information celebratecalm.com is the name and my house has gotten a little better in just one week. I no longer scream.

I wen thru this. The majority of teachers are not willing to do more for 1 child than for her others; including writing down assignments or speaking to you 1 or 2 times a week about the assignments. You MUST make him responsible for his own work. Has something changed in his life? Divorce, seperation, death of a loved one? These things trigger the problems in kids. Get him outside help now! In Elk Grov there is help in youth counseling thru the park district...educational help. Counselors that actually help teach the problem children. Check into it mom and good luck.

My 9 year old son refuses to eat his dinner because he's "full" (which means he just doesn't like it,) and then sneaks into the kitchen in the middle of the night for pop tarts. Are they hungry or what do they do with food?

Oh, Bernaadine, I am a single Mom like you and I know how hard it is. Please get some help from a counselor if you can. In my opinion, please see if you can find time to have some fun with your boys. Praise what they do well -- and ignore any bad behavior. I hope you can create a home environment that is joy and love filled. Is their father influencing them, also?

Not to sound mean but being a teacher myself, I can only say that it is not the teacher's responsibility to make sure a 5th grader puts his homework and books in his bag. I am sure there are plenty of reminders from the teacher during the day of what they need to do for homework at night. Is there a website that you can go to to check to see what your son's homework assignments are for the night? I know alot of school districts have those websites now. Is there anything at home that you can "take away" if he doesn't raise his grades? Best of luck!

Hi there,

I know what you're going through. I went through it with my son. If the teacher doesn't have a syllabus, that's a problem, and I feel she shouldn't be teaching. She needs to be calling you more often, another problem I ran into. Teachers don't want to get involved as they used to.

I think you sons are acting out because you're working and running errons. They need to understand that your income puts the food on the table, etc. As for your mom. They also need to know that one day we will all be at that age. The way we treat our elders is the way we are going to be treated.

I also went through that with my father, who was an acholic. My brother wanted no part of him, and now his children want nothing to do with him.

Reasure your sons that you will always be around, but these tough economic times cause you to work to help provide for them.

If you have video games or a computer this must be removed during the week and only given to play on the week ends. The other boy may think this is a punishment for him , but it's not. There needs to be a time set aside where he spends just on school work. Do something special on the weekends as a reward. Don't call it a reward just do it
What you need to realize is that you son needs time with YOU. No matter how tired you are. Play games on the weekends. Like sorry, yatzee, scrabble, cards, monopoly. sometimes playing games with 2 boys can be very trying and not always fun just be patient.When you start to give him more time he will do better you will see. Do not lecture sit with him and hug him tickle him as well as you other son. Make family time a big priority for all of you. Not having two parents in the home is hard for kids even if they do have a good relationship with the other parent. Unless you take extreem action this will only get worse.
Your son is at the age where he's starting to mature a very little . Sit with him take a car ride just you two, tell him your concerns, and also tell him how much you love him. Then stop the car and sit now you ask him how YOU can help him get on the right path. What can YOU do to help him with school , ask him if the is anything bothering him , you may be surprised at what he says to you. Just remember he's 10 and young and very moldable by what he has or does not have in his life. Your actions will speak much louder than his.
Alot of kids act out just to get the attention even if it's negative, they know at that moment of yelling it's all about them, and they have all your attention. Turn off all the electronics T V also and just be together as a family.

I don't understand your comment that they are"stealing" food. Are there foods that are specific for each member of the family? I know when my brother was that age he went through a huge growth spurt and ate non stop. (He did not have any weight issues, he grew to be 6'3 and grew probably 5 inches when he was 12) If you think they are eating "your" food just to make you mad then you definitely need to make them know it's off limits and punish them.

As far as grades it sounds like you have talked to the teacher and she knows your concerns, if it is a matter of not doing the work your son needs to take responsibility. Are there tutors that could work with your son. At my son's school there are several teachers that also work as tutors after school and weekends. My friend has used one for her son it completely turned his grades around. It just gave him one more person to be accountable to and gave him the extra attention he wasn't getting in the classroom.

Hi, B.
One quick question? Who is your support and are you getting any from anyone? It sounds like you are super caretaker with your boys and your mother. Can you reach out to some friends/sibling/brothers/ uncles?

I think the others are right: there is alot going on. It could be anything from hormones to hunger. Is their father around? Can he help at all? Would it be beneficial?

I think if you can, you need to give yourself a break, regroup and slow things down. One thing is for sure and that is that your boys seem to need you now. Then after you have regrouped prioritze what needs to be done: adjust groceries, put other snacks out, play more games together, discuss different rules, etc. Try and eliminate one by one, but most importantly involve your boys and make very firm/loving consequences.

If you need help or at some point the list is not helping I would contact a family therapist. You can call the school or local township for referrals with sliding fee scale. Maybe somone from the outside can help you guys regroup, give you TEMPORARY support or link you to some resources. Sometimes it even hepls for a few months for boys to have a consistent role model. Good luck and take care of you self!!! You obviously love your family.

Your son's teacher should not be responsible for making sure your son brings home his books, that is his responsibility. It sounds like he needs some discipline.

I have some questions as to what they are "stealing", when, why, and what are they doing w/ it? (eating frozen food?) Do they have an after school snack waiting for them to come home to? Prepare in advance.

Call the teacher every day. It is the schools responsibility to do whatever is needed to meet your child's needs. do they have an online progress posted, grades, tests, homework, etc? I went through this w/ a daughter and had great success w/ getting a daily written assignment sheet, that I needed to sign and have brought back. This can be a difficult transitional stage and needs to handled w/ consistence. Get the cooperation of the teachers! If needed see the higher-ups for help. you are your child's best advocate. Be one. Also, have you thought about getting a teen, young adult, or younger senior to help Grandma w/ the after school care?

I too am a little confused by the use of the term "stealing" for food in the fridge. If the food is earmarked for a meal I guess you have to let them know it is off limits, but my guess is they are real hungry when they come home from school. My 14 year old comes home starving for the past few years, literally eats a meal and still eats dinner. (especially if they are eating school lunches which are very small for a growing boy.) Mine craves protein so make sure they have some food to eat that satisfies. The days of little snacks are over.
I also did the assignment book thing with my boy. I found out (also in 5th grade!) he was not doing assignments, and he was hanging out with a bunch of kids that did the same thing (before that he was an A student). Privileges were suspended for 2 weeks (pending improvement)which meant zero video games and zero computer except for school work. He had his teacher sign his assignment book and I checked it, checked his homework and signed it at night. This was his teacher's idea and it worked. (Combined with loss of privileges, and a loving and constant reminder that his future partially hinges on this, etc. )Good luck to you and keep in close contact with the teachers. They will feel better about themselves once they start doing the right thing again, believe me.
And finallly, yes they must be taught repect for their grandmother. And she should not have to be the "enforcer". In fact, perhaps you could give them some jobs where they are looking after and taking care of her.

Hi There!

Before I became a SAHM...I was a 5th and 7th grade teacher. I would suggest getting your son an assignment notebook (if he does not already have one) and then ask his teacher to check and sign his assignment book at the end of the day each day to make sure that he has the correct info for his homework written down...that way when he gets home you can look at his assignment book and know that the info is accurate and complete and you can make sure he gets his assignments done. Fifth grade tends to be a transition grade when kids become more interested in things outside of the classroom....your son is lucky to have a caring mother like you that is willing to work hard to keep him from trouble. Good Luck!

Wow, you have your hands full. Sounds like you are doing your part as far as staying involved. My son started going through the same thing at that age. He was an honor roll student until the 5th grade. By the eighth grade he was bringing home all F's. I too kept in constant communication with his teachers and continually tried to figure out what he was thinking? But after 3 LONG years of the micro managing my son, he is now a freshman in high school and doing very well. I am contributing some of his behavior to hormones and some to trying to fit in. He is on his high school football team and wrestling team. He is back on the honor roll. Don't give up, keep trying to figure it out. Stay involved. Do lots of praying for patients and strength! You will get through this!!!:)

A.

I'm sorry to hear about the troubles your sons are having. I am a 5th grade teacher, and this is what I would suggest: get your son a homework planner or notebook in which he can write all assignments and their due dates. It will take longer, but he can also write the materials he needs to bring home with him for each assignment. You and he can even create abbreviations for items. I'm betting the teacher is willing to help out since you say you talk to her weekly, so you can explain to him (HIS responsibility, not the teacher's) that he needs to get her signature each day after he's written down all of his hw and packed his bag. Before she signs, she should make sure it's written completely and he has all necessary books in his bag. I assign a "homework buddy" in class- a responsible student who compares their assignment notebook to their buddy's to make sure it's complete and their bag is ready before I see it. That way, it's faster for me to check it. When you get home, he needs to show it to you with the teacher's signature as well as any completed work or work he needs help from you to do. You should check the work if you have time, make sure he packs it all up, and sign under the teacher's signature indicating that you've seen him complete everything. If he doesn't have the teacher's signature, you need to decide on a consequence. I've actually had a mom leave work early to come to school and sit with her son while he packed up. It was so embarrassing for him in front of his friends, he never forgot to ask me to check his notebook or bag again.
This should only happen for a short time (month or so). It's very time-consuming for the teacher, but more so, it takes responsibility away from your son. At this age, he needs to be learning how to complete his hw on his own, not allowing his teacher and mom to do everything for him. The main frustration I have is with parents who don't always follow through. Sometimes the kids have a consequence, sometimes they don't. Kids don't learn without consistency.
Good luck with your boys. I hope some of that helped!

How are you disciplining your child for the "f's"?

My son who is 12 and in 7th grade always brought home "A's and "B's" but now brought home 3 "F's" and an academic warning. After many fightrs and him lying to me that he was doing his homework and then going to school and not turning it in, I took all of the electronics out of the house and put it in the trunk of my car and I grounded him from going to his friends house or even going outside to play until he brought the "F's" up to at least a "C". He was scheduled to go to Lane Tech for a basketball camp for a couple of evenings and I grounded him from that which killed him since he loves basketball so much. It finally sank in. It definately became a power struggle but it finally sank into him so now he has 3 "C's" and the rest "A's and B's". You just have to keep disciplining until they finally get that you are serious and that you will not give in on this. That education is more important than anything.
Hang in there. It is tough but you will be ok.
From: single mom who works way too many hours!

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