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Question
Posted by: Mommy | 2011/06/14

LAZY CHILD?

I have a 12 year old son who attends a private school on the West Rand. My husband and I do without a lot in life to send our child to a private school. Yesterday he brings home the exams he wrote the previous week and his marks were shocking to say the least! He made " study notes"  and " studied"  so hard with his father (my husband spent hours with him helping him with his studies). I was shocked and very angry and said things to my child which I feel bad about this morning. He is a very bright child with a lot of potential, yet he cruises along and just passes at the end of every term. His school teachers all say the same thing : he is a bright child who needs to apply himself and concentrate more. He rushes through his school work and seems to be easily distracted by the other children in class (also comments made by his teachers!). I have decided to punish him. I have taken away his cellphone, playstation and cancelled his class tour later this year! Earlier this year when his marks were bad, I told my husband that my son will not be allowed to go on holiday to his grandparents in PE if his marks don''t improve. My husband and his mother subsequently went ahead and bought my son a plane ticket for the end of this month (without discussing it with me first) so that he can go to PE. I have on numerous occasions told my husband that we must show my son that we are serious when we say we are going to punish him if he does not want to study. I don''t know if I reacted in the correct manner by confiscating his phone and playstation and cancelling his school tour. He knows that his plane ticket has been bought for the end of the month and I get the impression that he thought he would once again get away with not studying. My husband was so angry last night and threatened to hit my son every time he gets a bad mark on a test ... we are at our wits'' end. I don''t know what to do anymore. We work very hard to give him a good education, don''t go out for dinner, movies or even on holiday, just to ensure that there is money to keep him in this private school. I told my son last night that if his marks are bad at the end of the year, we are taking him out of the private school and putting him in public school. We have explained to him how important it is to get a good education, but we don''t seem to be able to get through to him. Please advise what we must do. I don''t know if giving him Ritalin will help .. I have been giving him ADDVANCE for the past few years now. PLEASE HELP!! Are there other parents out there who are experiencing similar problems? Thanks ... your input would be appreciated. (PS .. I admit that my son is quite spoilt as my husband believes in giving him as much as possible and what his parents did not give him .. once again most of which is done without my consent!)

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Its obvious that you and your husband really value a good education and appreciate its benefits - to what extent does your child share these values ? He may well recognize that you do, but does he himself FEEL that it is worth the extra effort required, and that it will provide him with lasting benefits ? Have you, at quiet times rather than crisis, chatted with him about such values ? It can be in some ways more difficult for a really bright kid who can usually get through the exams without great effort, to see value in expending the extra time and effort to get better marks.
This is about getting to understand HIS wishes, dreams, hopes, motivators, not "explaining" things to him. Whatdoes he prefer to do with his time ? What turns him on ? Hobbies, interests ? Understanding what he IS motivated for and by, helps to plan how to help him see motivators in the school work you value.
I really doubt whether punishment will help at all. Not only is it not an effective motivator, but it is punishing him now for something that may have happened in the past.
Its also clear that you and your husband, though you may share similar over-all values, differ as to how best to achieve them. He doesn't seem to share your view that punishment will be an effective intervention, and I'm inclined to agree with him.
Avoid the common error that when the method you choose to use if failing, you decide to do the same thing but harder or fiercer. The punishment method is effectively teaching him that learning and studying is an unpleasant thing that leads to unpleasant consequences.
Ritalin does not give motivation ( except, maybe, for the folks who sell it ).
There's an obvious need for the advice of a good psychologist, not only to help plan things more effectively for your child, but also to help you and your husband come to a shared un derstanding of what is worthwhile for him, and how to work together towards helping him to achieve that.
Maybe your husband can recognize that mere gifts are not as helpful as he thinks, but can be transformed into rewards to encourage the behaviours you want to encourage. If the kid receives valued gifts whatever he does, why should he bother to change his behaviour ?


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5
Our users say:
Posted by: Romany | 2011/06/14

The answer is in CS'' last sentence:
" If the kid receives valued gifts whatever he does, why should he bother to change his behaviour ? " 

It should be about " give and take" 

Reply to Romany
Posted by: Maria | 2011/06/14

To cover all bases, also have his eyesight and hearing checked.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: Maria | 2011/06/14

Before you punish, take him for a comprehensive assessment at an educational psychologist to make sure there isn''t an underlying problem. Also ask the psychologist to advise you on the most effective way for your son to study. If the assessment does not find significant problems that are impeding his academic progress, then by all means take away privileges for bad marks. But it is really important that your husband and you agree on what the approach should be, otherwise your son will know he can still get away with anything. Also try to make learning fun where possible. You and your husband are obviously very committed to your son. If you''re going to spend hours doing school work with him you might as well try to make it enjoyable, and the results might be much better.

Explaining the importance of education to a 12 year old and threatening to put him in a public school will get you nowhere. He won''t understand and can probably care less at this point.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: just saying! | 2011/06/14

it sounds like your son has a concentration problem and is not lazy, you should investigate and take him for assesment, clearly if he is easy distracted it is a big sign.
Stop looking at it like he is lazy, if your husband sits with him during exams and help he should do good,
Find a good educational pshycologist and let him/her asses your son, they should find the problem.

My son was the same and in the end was diagnosed with adhd, dyslexia and colourblindness,
By punishing your son is not going to solve the problem, it is a learning difficulty that needs to be overcome.
Take my word for this I went the whole nine yards with my son and he is doing well at school now.
Go and look long and hard at his previous report cards and look at his handwriting does he sometimes write his letters upside down, can he follow more than one instruction at a time or must you remind him, is he forgetfull , dont leave it , it gets worse when they are older,
My sister in law''s son is the same and she refuse to take him for help, so sad, also thinks by punishing him she can make him smarter and he will get better marks, there is a problem here.

Reply to just saying!
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/06/14

Its obvious that you and your husband really value a good education and appreciate its benefits - to what extent does your child share these values ? He may well recognize that you do, but does he himself FEEL that it is worth the extra effort required, and that it will provide him with lasting benefits ? Have you, at quiet times rather than crisis, chatted with him about such values ? It can be in some ways more difficult for a really bright kid who can usually get through the exams without great effort, to see value in expending the extra time and effort to get better marks.
This is about getting to understand HIS wishes, dreams, hopes, motivators, not "explaining" things to him. Whatdoes he prefer to do with his time ? What turns him on ? Hobbies, interests ? Understanding what he IS motivated for and by, helps to plan how to help him see motivators in the school work you value.
I really doubt whether punishment will help at all. Not only is it not an effective motivator, but it is punishing him now for something that may have happened in the past.
Its also clear that you and your husband, though you may share similar over-all values, differ as to how best to achieve them. He doesn't seem to share your view that punishment will be an effective intervention, and I'm inclined to agree with him.
Avoid the common error that when the method you choose to use if failing, you decide to do the same thing but harder or fiercer. The punishment method is effectively teaching him that learning and studying is an unpleasant thing that leads to unpleasant consequences.
Ritalin does not give motivation ( except, maybe, for the folks who sell it ).
There's an obvious need for the advice of a good psychologist, not only to help plan things more effectively for your child, but also to help you and your husband come to a shared un derstanding of what is worthwhile for him, and how to work together towards helping him to achieve that.
Maybe your husband can recognize that mere gifts are not as helpful as he thinks, but can be transformed into rewards to encourage the behaviours you want to encourage. If the kid receives valued gifts whatever he does, why should he bother to change his behaviour ?


Reply to cybershrink

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