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How do you get them to care?

Posted by on May. 15, 2009 at 10:25 PM
  • 7 Replies
So all year long my step son has been failing in school. He's always struggled, but this year has been particularly bad. Usually he struggles some in the beginning, but then pulls things together, and manages to stay close to the A/B honor roll. But this year he has consistently failed, or almost failed every class. This last nine week period, I finally thought he was trying again, but he is failing history, and is only 4 points away from failing science. Not because he can't do the work, but because he just doesn't. Or he does the work, but then never turns it in. He is already missing 7 assignments in world history, and 4 in science.

So how do I get him to care about his school work? HIs future? He's about to turn 13. I only see him on the weekends, so there is a limit to how much help I can provide. Any advice?

Only His Noodly Appendage can enlighten you. 

by on May. 15, 2009 at 10:25 PM
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by on May. 16, 2009 at 2:59 AM

gosh, right now I cant think of anything. But it is 3 AM & I have a headache. I'll check back sat. afternoon & if you dont have tons of advice,I can tell you what I did w/ my stepson who was doing the same thing at the same age.



by on May. 16, 2009 at 4:27 AM

It's not easy, and really, caring and wanting to succeed come from within.  The older they get, the more they decide and the less you control.  I've had only 4minimal success, but here are some ideas.

First, teens think very short term (like 15 minutes ahead!).  Talk to him and see what interest him, what he wants to do in the future.  Does he realize the role of educatin in all that?  Does he realize in a job, whatever it is, he doesn't get paid if he doesn't do the work - and no one is going to remind him.

I often talk to my kids about how proud they feel when they do good, and even sometimes when you don't get a great grade at least you know when you have made your best effort.  Compare that to hidding bad grades, having a knot in your stomach cause you know your parents will be disapported, and even they get remarks from some of their friends about their bad grades.    My DD recently went white when her 3 or 4 best friends all made honor roll and not her - I swear that got to her more than anything I said in the last year!!!!!

Second, I assume you have talked to teachers and counselors to get their point of view?  Is he having problems with other kids?  It doesn't sound like he is having learning problems, but check this too - maybe he doesn't have the ability (chances are, like my kids, they tell you - yes, good ability, just doens't work up to it!??!).   And probe him - what or who is bothering him?  (A heads up - at the start of Jr. high my DS class did not like 'intellectuals'.   They all thought it was cool not to do homework, etc. and she feel into that mentality.....   and I have heard this from other parents as well.)

And last, I personally have found that specific rewards/punishments don't work, but you might want to try.  I used to get my kids a big pack of candy when they got an A and light stuff like that.  But essentially, even if we grounded them for bad grades, they just seemed to be grounded and grumpy all the time and the situation didn't improve.

This year (long story, but they changed schools for discpline issues) we have pretty much backed off (I do work with my 13 year once or twice a week) and decided to let them succeed or fail on their own  (they never succeeded for 'us' in the past).  That said, both of ours came up with some wild requests (15 DS wants a big party, wiht some kids sleeping over, etc..; 13 DD wants an additional piercing in her ear).   We said they were both requests we don't usually grant and require a big effort on our part... but if they made a big effort, we would too - so we agreed on a high goal, and they haven't made it yet, but they do talk about wanting to!   And even if the goal is nearly too high to meet, if they made a 200% effort and fell a bit short, I'd do it... but unfortunately, the efforts are still too sporatic.  But, with the reward in mind, the talks we have, and some outside influences, it's slowly getting better!

Good luck!

by on May. 16, 2009 at 5:54 AM

Do they have after school tutoring?  I had same problem w/my 15 yr old SS.  We had him attend after school tutoring and he was grounded.  My kids know that if grades suffer then that means there has been too much ripping and running and it's time to stay at home and keep the nose buried in a book.  We also had a communication book going back and forth.  This helped me keep track of what assignments he had.

How is the relationship w/the SS bio mom?  Will she work w/you so that there is consistancy?

Good Luck


by on May. 16, 2009 at 9:58 AM
Thanks for all the great advice ladies. No bio mom isn't the easiest person to work with, and she has gone back to school so her priorities are not where they should be. Her response to the bad grades has been to take away his Playstation 3 for most of the year, but she always allowed him to keep his PSP, so really what good did that do? I have tried talking with him, and explaining to him how important it is. I even made him write me an essay telling me where he wants to be 10 years from now, and how he expects to get there. I still just don't feel like he gets it though. I am not with him during the week, so I feel like my hands are tied.

Only His Noodly Appendage can enlighten you. 

by on May. 16, 2009 at 12:41 PM

Since you don't see him very often, maybe you should try bribery.  Is there something he likes -movies, karting, mini golf, outiing or inviting a friend, etc. that you could give him when he can show you X A or B grades in a given period - you'd have to figure it out, but after every 10 A/B grades a special treat, or if he gets 10 in a month, that month you do sthg?   On a day to day basis we never wanted to do this, but my mom tried bribing my kids - in my case, it really didn't work, but for some people it does.

Just a thought!  And keep talking and being encouraging!

by on May. 16, 2009 at 1:16 PM

The kid did the same thing at about that age.

It seems to me that I started making her do her homework at the bar while I made dinner. She wasn't allowed to do anything else until the homework was done. I emailed the teachers who's classes she was having issues with to make sure she'd turned everything in every Thursday. If not, she'd have to turn it all in on Friday or she couldn't do anything over the weekend. 

We spent a good amount of time talking about how being organized now would help her to be organized later and how important her grades were to her future. Pretty much 'if you don't want to live here with me for the rest of your life, you need to make strides to prove you are capable." Colleges don't take people with bad grades and employers don't hire people that they don't feel will provide anything to the business.

I haven't had to police homework since about age 14. Although, she has decided she wants to live at home while she goes to college. lol

by Gold Member on May. 16, 2009 at 8:49 PM

when my sons started middle school.We sat down and wrote out a contract.The contract stated thet If my sons didnt turn in an assignment or didnt work up to his potential then they would turn in the uniform of the sport they were playing. We stressed the importance of school (which I am sure you do) and how sports work free time took 2nd place to any and all schjool owrk. My sons took alot of crap when they were doing home work or reports in between basketball games at a tourny or soccer ,baseball what ever sport they were playing.BUT it taught them how important school was. We Once had to turn in my sons basketabll uniform.he was in grade 8 on a travel team.Progress reports came out and he had missed 2 assingmeents. He had to call his coach and explain why he was dropping out.YES some people will say that he should not have had to. he joined a team and should have fufilled his commitment.I agree BUT only if he had done his school work.The coach called me back and applauded our decision.

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