Updated on March 07, 2007
S.B. asks from Anderson, IN
7 answers

I have a fifteen yr old son. He is smart but is failing alot of his classes. He just doesn't seem to care. We have tried talking to his teachers, rewarding him for getting good grades, and punishing him for Fs. His teachers are lost as to how to help. They say he is more than capable of doing the work but is lazy. Now he is starting to get very smart mouthed with me over almost everything. His dad works second shift so during the week it is just me and the kids. If any one can help me find a way to get him motivated, I would be very greatful.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all of the help. I sat down and had a one on one with my son. I tried to let him do most of the talking. He is quite bored in school. He does not understand how history or science are going to help him when he gets older. Since our talk we have done a few real life experiments with jobs and the things is truly interested in. We used his love of skateboarding to learn about angles and how math can be very important. He now understands a little better why he needs to know some of these things. We will see how much is applying when his next report card comes.

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answers from Indianapolis on

Hey S.,
I have a step-son the same age and he was flunking all of his classes until he moved in with us at 12. We are getting the same thing that you are getting as far as the attitude. Andrew is made to come home and sit straight at the table and pull out his agenda. All of the homework that he has is listed in that. The teachers sign it and we check it at the end of the night to make sure it is done. It is a pain in the neck but it works he now has A's and B's. The attitude is nothing that you can get rid of other than basic punishments. That unfortunately is the horomones and trying to see what he can get by with. Hope that helps.



answers from Lafayette on

Teenagers can be a challenge at times. Especially when they're dealing with mostly only one parent and that parent works full time. Try talking to him direct and personal. Ask him straight out why he's not doing the work and why he has the attitude? Perhaps someone or something is bothering him or he's feeling to much pressure and just wants to throw in the towel and give up on wich case you need to watch him closely for signs of depression. You need to know where he goes and who he hangs out with and what kind of kids these are that he's hanging out with. Watch for signs and evidence (paraphanalia and the like) of drug and/or alcohol use. I don't want you to distrust him, but kids do silly things sometimes. Put rules and limits in place...such as how much time he can talk on the phone in a day, how much time he can watch tv in a day and cut down on how often he can go out. Atleast make it a rule that he can't go out with his friends until you have a chance to look over his homework. The added benefit to looking over his homework is that if he's getting alot wrong, then you can see where his problem area is and be able to help him. And one thing that I always tell my kids...they have a choice...they will go to college or they will go in the military, but one way or another they will make something of themselves...and I'm not rich...I can't afford to send them to college so they have to get good grades so that they can get the grants to go. Good luck to you.



answers from South Bend on

I'd have to say try counseling as well, it may take a bit, but there may be an underlying problem he's not really dealing with and it's effecting how he handles things. Was he a good student at one point? Most people don't realize this but most problems will start rearing their heads about the time of puberty. That's not to say your son has any of these problems but it's something to look into. Bi-polar, Depression, they're actually pretty common in teenagers, but most people pass it off as laziness or rebeling. I'm stating this from experience, I was a good student, but fell into a state of depression right about the age of 15 and my grades and attitude just did a 180. I eventually managed to get back on track graduate and start a family- I just really needed someone to listen to me who I felt understood and wasn't going to judge me (and sadly, parents don't really fall into that category). My husband when he was that age started having alot of problems too, his were because learning disabilities he'd had as a child, hadn't been noticable prior to hitting puberty. Really, it's worth checking into. No one wants to admit something might be wrong, but letting something sit like that -IF- there is something going on can be worse in the long run. If something has changed just recently, IE a move, a job change, or something, that could be an issue too. It's really just about trying to find a way to communicate at this point. Once you know what the problem is, it'll be easier to find a means to fix it.



answers from Lexington on

I'm so sorry, I went through the same exact thing for 3 years with my 15 year old son. However, this is the first year in a while that he is making an effort. He came too close for his own comfort when he had to go to summer school last year. Not that it was his first time at summer work, but the year prior it was all done on his own via mail. Last year though, I refused to pay the extra money for him to do it at home, the book alone cost $88 and the fee was $140. Since I refused to pay it again, in order not to fail, he had to get up and walk or ride his bike to summer school. Let me tell you, his lazy butt straightened up, and that's all it's been- laziness. I used to tell him that if one more of his teachers told me how intelligent he was, but that he was simply lazy and unwilling, that we were jumping off a bridge together, because I couldn't handle it any longer. I used to spend many, many hours worrying and crying about it, and all that worrying, crying, begging didn't help a thing. He had to be willing to do it on his own.
Wish I had more words of encouragement, but until your son sees for himself that nobody else can do it for him, he will never change. The sad thing is that it may take him failing or coming extremely close to wake up and realize.
As for the smart mouth, you're actually lucky that it has just started, most kids these days are starting that much earlier. I know it's still hard to handle, but showing him that it bothers you will only keep it going. So when he gets smart, act like you don't even hear him, or hear the attitude in his voice.
Good Luck!



answers from Lexington on

My 2 oldest children struggled with school for different reasons.

Talk with the school counselors and see if an alternative to the standard classes could be worked out. Also make an appointment with the doctor for a physical. It maybe that something is going on at school that he doesn't want to talk about with an adult but it may also be that he may be depressed.

My oldest tried the homebound classes but when that was shown to be impractical we worked with the school system to help her get her GED. She passed her GED test this past DEC and is now working and is getting her life in order.

My second child is still struggling with school...I had a meeting with the teachers and counselors and they placed him on the work program through the school and he only goes to school for half a day and has been looking for a job. It's hard as he hasn't had a job yet and no one wants to hire him due to lack of work experience...sigh...we may look into the GED program for him but I am trying to work through the school first...we shall see...

Good luck!!!



answers from Louisville on

S. I have to tell son was like that..on the verge of failing and he was never ever smartmouthed to his teachers he just never did his homework and it was like pulling teeth. UNTIL I found a great school here in Louisville and now my son makes As and Bs. The teachers there told me that when a child gets bored with school then that happens. Up til a year and a half ago thats how it was. He is now 18...he will graduate May of next year.



answers from Indianapolis on

Try counseling, I know it is hard to admit there might be somethings we can't handle, and maybe there is something goin on that he cant handle, Also, if that doesn't work try Chrysalis Academy, look them up on line and see what they offer for young men, they are a good program.

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