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  #1  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:18 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Help with an unruly 11 year old

For the most part, my son is a quiet kid who is rather well behaved and generally liked by most adults.

The problem comes in at school. He is currently in 6th grade (U.S.) but the problems began last year. We thought we had the problem in hand until school started again this year.

Last year he started lying to my wife and I as well has his teachers. He would come home and tell us that he had no homework. Then he would go into school the next day and tell his teachers that he left his work at home. At the end of the week we would get a paper in his "Friday Folder" that told us of any assignments missing that week, so it didn't take us long to figure out what was going on.

So we made him start using his assignment notebook to record all assigned work from each class. Then he started "forgetting" to write it down in the notebook. And when he did write assignments in the book, he would do them at home but "forget" to turn them in. That's right, he would complete the assignment but not turn it in for credit.

Barely 2 weeks into the new school year, he's at it again. Refusing to write down his assignments in his assignment notebook. Lying to us and the teachers. He's started skipping classes this year.

We've grounded him from everything, yet he still tries to get out of doing the work. He is in every advanced or accelerated class the district offers and when he does the work, he gets good grades without much help from me or my wife. In fact, his test grades are very good. So, I don't think the classes are too hard for him.

We've gotten most of his teachers on board to check over and initial his assignment notebook everyday after each class. But he's gone back to telling them he left his assignment notebook at home.

I have a feeling that there is something going on here that is only manifesting itself as this behavior. I've talked with him many times, but it usually comes down to "I forgot."

I'm at a complete loss. I don't know what else to do.

Anyone have any suggestions? I've considered therapy or family counseling, but I'm not sure we could afford it.
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  #2  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:24 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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He's got the smarts, obviously. But the one point that stuck out for me in your description is writing stuff down.

Has he been tested for dyslexia?

Brilliant people with dyslexia have managed to survive school years by depending on LISTENING, and they fake writing skills. A kid would rather lie, and be caught lying, than admit he or she can't write, or even read adequately.

I'd also ask for testing for ADHD.

Learning disorders are more prevalent in males than females.

Other than that, LOL....kids DO lie, and the stories are incredibly imaginative and detailed! It gets much worse when the hormones hit!


~VOW
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  #3  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:43 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Oh crap, tell me there's a good answer out there. Sixth grade is where I started going downhill assignments and work-wise. Aced every test that came my way regardless of effort put in on studying/homework, but also used my so-called smarts to find new and exciting ways to not do the work. Punishments? They did teach me valuable lessons in remaining happy despite the loss of material or intangible things, which while actually a good thing meant that threats or punishments were relatively useless with regards to motivating me to get things done. Pattern kept repeating (especially skipping classes), to the point where I eventually dropped out of high school. I eventually got some of my shit together (night school; then on to Columbia U/Georgetown Law), but if something could have smoothed out the work habits earlier, I could have avoided a few bumps and bruises along the way.

Our Dudeling is only two, but I'd love to know if there's anything I can do along the way to avoid the same pattern--even if it's too early to say he'll follow in those particular footsteps.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:47 PM
perfectparanoia perfectparanoia is offline
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There is a limit to how much you can do on this one. From what I hear from the people I know with underachievers, it won't end until they seriously fail at something.

However, I would implement a strategy that my primary kids are using. Each day, they are required to copy down the homework (or write 'no homework') and the teacher initials it. We have to initial it in the evening to say that we have read it (or leave a note for the teacher, etc).

It gives daily feedback with little effort.

It sounds like you are trying to do a similar thing but that some teachers won't do it? I would call in the principal. Grade 6 is a little too early for the kids to be completely on their own with this kind of thing.
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  #5  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:51 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Originally Posted by VOW View Post
Has he been tested for dyslexia?

Brilliant people with dyslexia have managed to survive school years by depending on LISTENING, and they fake writing skills. A kid would rather lie, and be caught lying, than admit he or she can't write, or even read adequately.

I'd also ask for testing for ADHD.

Learning disorders are more prevalent in males than females.

Other than that, LOL....kids DO lie, and the stories are incredibly imaginative and detailed! It gets much worse when the hormones hit!


~VOW
I don't think dyslexia is a problem. He does very well on spelling tests and one of the things we had to ground him from was books. When skipping class, he would lock himself in one of the bathroom stalls and read until the class was over. The kid reads all the time even when not grounded from everything else.
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  #6  
Old 09-21-2011, 01:57 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Originally Posted by perfectparanoia View Post
There is a limit to how much you can do on this one. From what I hear from the people I know with underachievers, it won't end until they seriously fail at something.

However, I would implement a strategy that my primary kids are using. Each day, they are required to copy down the homework (or write 'no homework') and the teacher initials it. We have to initial it in the evening to say that we have read it (or leave a note for the teacher, etc).

It gives daily feedback with little effort.

It sounds like you are trying to do a similar thing but that some teachers won't do it? I would call in the principal. Grade 6 is a little too early for the kids to be completely on their own with this kind of thing.
Most of the teachers will. His math teacher is the only one that is pushing back. I only met her once for 5 minutes before the school year began at the school open house. It only took me half that time to figure out that she was a curmudgeonly old bat.

She is doing it, but she isn't happy about it. I suspect that she's not really looking it over, but just initialing it to get him out of her face.

But the problem still remains, how do I punish him when he lies to his teachers and says he forgot his assignment notebook at home? I've already grounded him from everything.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:59 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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I was a classic underachiever. Your son sounds much like I was at his age.

I'm not sure it applies to your son, but I finally figured out that my issue what that I was stressed out by assignments. Homework gave me panic attacks. I couldn't deal with what I felt was a huge amount of pressure so I just blew it off. I used to cry all the way home if I had a bad grade because I knew I was in trouble.

It wasn't until I talked it over with my dad and he agreed not to yell but to be cool about it and try to help if I got a bad score on an assignment, if I agreed to do the work. That took the pressure off me and I was free to just give it a good shot and not hide bad grades.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:04 PM
Drain Bead Drain Bead is offline
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Is it possible for you or your spouse to pick him up from school until he's responsible enough to bring his work home? The embarrassment of having mom or dad waiting at the building like he's in first grade may motivate him to do the right thing. If he's skipping classes, threaten that the next time you hear of such a thing, you're taking a vacation day to walk him from class to class.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:22 PM
Becky2844 Becky2844 is offline
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Please take your son to a medical doctor first. Get him checked out AND tested for dyslexia etc. You might find your answer there. If not, please get him into counseling (private, not family.) There's something going on here and it's happening for a reason. You (and he) just don't know what it is yet. I totally understand the punishing but it might turn out that it does about as much good as trying to make a lion look and act like a swan. Best of luck to your family.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:49 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Count me in as another underachiever like zoid. I started this same crap around 6th grade too. I really pushed back against my "accelerated" classes. Not because they were too hard, or even that I was too lazy. I was just sick of it.

Unfortunately the only thing I can say that got me out of the funk was when I told my 8th grade guidance counselor that I didn't want to do any advanced classes in 9th grade, then was bored out of my SKULL in 9th grade and missing all my friends from the advanced classes.

In 10th grade I went back to the normal advanced track and all was well. But yeah I did fight it for like 4 years.

Last edited by ZipperJJ; 09-21-2011 at 02:49 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:52 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Originally Posted by Drain Bead View Post
Is it possible for you or your spouse to pick him up from school until he's responsible enough to bring his work home? The embarrassment of having mom or dad waiting at the building like he's in first grade may motivate him to do the right thing. If he's skipping classes, threaten that the next time you hear of such a thing, you're taking a vacation day to walk him from class to class.
It's not really possible for us to take him to and from school. We both work and our parents pitch in to pick them up from school.

Though when the principal found out that he was skipping classes, he threatened to have one of the lunch ladies follow him around all day.
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  #12  
Old 09-21-2011, 03:09 PM
Rachellelogram Rachellelogram is online now
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What kind of books does he read? What does he want to be when he grows up (a writer, a professional reader a/k/a editor, or something else)? Is he aware that simply liking to read and being really smart doesn't land anyone a job these days?

I second getting some basic learning disability and psychological testing done. Talk to his teachers to see how well he's socializing with classmates. Even if he's not dyslexic or ADD or OCD or oppositionally defiant (etc), he would still be a pathological liar (although I wouldn't think that's likely to be the case, but who knows?). If he's telling the truth that he "just forgot" dozens of times, then he must have the shortest attention span in the known universe. So obviously he's not telling the truth, or something is seriously wrong.
--
Most importantly, if you can't afford the testing he needs to get diagnosed, are you going to be able to afford to send him to college? If not, have you discussed with him that he will need good grades to get scholarships if he wants to go to college? And that just being smart without motivation doesn't get you anything in life? I don't know how effective a motivator this kind of conversation would necessarily be for a kid that young, but you should still talk about it. He needs to know ASAP if he will have to step up the schoolwork to get into college, preferably before high school (which is when college recruiters start paying attention). Maybe this talk could guilt him into telling you the real reason he doesn't do his homework.

I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, but my mom didn't believe in being grounded from reading. I don't believe in it, either. Any amount of risk is too big a risk that you'll turn him off books forever. Talking to a psychologist would help you find better ways to address his behavior.

Last edited by Rachellelogram; 09-21-2011 at 03:12 PM..
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  #13  
Old 09-21-2011, 03:36 PM
Sateryn76 Sateryn76 is offline
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Why not try the opposite. Sit down with him to explain that you guys have tried everything, have been unable to produce results, and since he clearly doesn't want or need your help, he's on his own. Let me know that at any time, with no questions asked, he could ask you guys for help and you would be willing to step in, but until then, you're done-zo.

And then do it, at least to his face. Most schools and teachers are willing to correspond directly with you, so you can keep track and make sure he really doesn't go off the rails.

Give him some time on his own and see how he handles it.

Last edited by Sateryn76; 09-21-2011 at 03:36 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:47 PM
drewtwo99 drewtwo99 is offline
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I'm only 25 and am in no position to give parenting advice from that perspective, but I did teach high school physics for 2 years, and student taught 6th grade science for half a year (it was a blast).

If I were your son's teacher, I would make him call you during class in the middle of collecting their homework assignments. You have no idea how embarassing this is for students. If you or your wife can accept a call at work or on your cell phone during the school day, try to suggest this solution to your son's teachers. If he "forgets" to bring his homework, the teacher can make him call you to remind him to bring it tomorrow. Every single time. In my experience, at least high school students, they don't have to call home more than once or twice before they suddenly begin to remember bringing it.

It sounds like you are doing everything in your power to make sure your son is doing his homework and turning it in. Now the teachers need to step up and put the kid on the spot in a way that will encourage good behavior.

Last edited by drewtwo99; 09-21-2011 at 03:50 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:49 PM
pbbth pbbth is offline
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My husband was like this when he was in middle school and was eventually diagnosed with ADD. Once he had a diagnosis and was given the skills to deal with it he got a little better but he still had a lot of this kind of issue and started talking about not going to college, etc. When he was a junior in high school his parents arranged for a family friend who owned a construction company to take him on as a summer employee to give him a better idea of what life is like for adults who haven't gone to college. One summer of intense labor and a good, hard look at the adults around him who had to do this for the rest of their lives sent him back to school with an appreciation for his education and off to college in hopes that he would never have to do that kind of thing to support himself again.

6th grade is too young to send to work on a construction site but it isn't too young to volunteer with an organization that helps the homeless or injured war veterans and expose him to some of the things that can happen to grown-ups who might not have ended up in that situation had they been more aware of the long term effect their choices might have when they were young.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:54 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Originally Posted by rachelellogram View Post
What kind of books does he read? What does he want to be when he grows up (a writer, a professional reader a/k/a editor, or something else)? Is he aware that simply liking to read and being really smart doesn't land anyone a job these days?

I second getting some basic learning disability and psychological testing done. Talk to his teachers to see how well he's socializing with classmates. Even if he's not dyslexic or ADD or OCD or oppositionally defiant (etc), he would still be a pathological liar (although I wouldn't think that's likely to be the case, but who knows?). If he's telling the truth that he "just forgot" dozens of times, then he must have the shortest attention span in the known universe. So obviously he's not telling the truth, or something is seriously wrong.
--
Most importantly, if you can't afford the testing he needs to get diagnosed, are you going to be able to afford to send him to college? If not, have you discussed with him that he will need good grades to get scholarships if he wants to go to college? And that just being smart without motivation doesn't get you anything in life? I don't know how effective a motivator this kind of conversation would necessarily be for a kid that young, but you should still talk about it. He needs to know ASAP if he will have to step up the schoolwork to get into college, preferably before high school (which is when college recruiters start paying attention). Maybe this talk could guilt him into telling you the real reason he doesn't do his homework.

I was a voracious reader when I was a kid, but my mom didn't believe in being grounded from reading. I don't believe in it, either. Any amount of risk is too big a risk that you'll turn him off books forever. Talking to a psychologist would help you find better ways to address his behavior.
He will pretty much read anything. Harry Potter, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Hobbit, or the Garfield compilation that his younger brother brought home from school library. ETA - He will literally read anything if it means he can put off doing homework. We caught him, pencil in hand with homework page in front of him, reading a mutual fund prospectus that I had gotten in the mail that day.

The reason we grounded him from reading is because the teachers would give time in class to work on homework and he'd put the homework away and read instead. It was affecting his school work the same way a cellphone or Nintendo DS would.

We did ask him what he wants to be when he grows up. His answers used to be scientist or teacher or something like that. Now they are Video Game Tester or Stay at Home Dad.

Therapy would really put a strain on our budget. We have a separate savings plan for college with a penalty for borrowing against it or some such.

I like the idea of getting him tested for ADD, OCD, dyslexia, etc... Would that be done at a physician's office? Or somewhere else? Our primary care physician is only a $20 copay.

Last edited by Shadowfyre; 09-21-2011 at 03:58 PM..
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  #17  
Old 09-21-2011, 04:22 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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I say let him face the consequences. Really, he's old enough to know cause and effect. If he gets bad grades, will the school assign him to less advanced classes next year? If not, then they should. I don't care what a test says; if a kid isn't even trying, then he needs to know what happens to you. You end up in a mediocre circumstances and lots of regrets.

(I was immature in middle school. I made great grades, but socially I was in outer space. I think this is one reason why I ended up not being placed in certain advanced classes in high school. Teachers thought I wouldn't be able to handle the challenge emotionally. Fair? Probably not. But it sure learned me to "act right".)

If he whines about it, ask him to reflect on his past behavior and then ask him if he thinks it's fair to have him in a class designed for high-achievers.

If he improves his behavior and his grades, then get the registrar to bump him up.

If he doesn't care and he still underachieves, then you've either got a late-bloomer who will one day turn into an Albert Einstein or a Thomas Edison, or you just have a kid who likes to slack off and will always be this way. But chances are he's the former. You can't force flowers to bloom until they are ready. I think people work the same way. It might bite him in the ass later in life, but it's not your job to protect him from every bad decision he makes.

(I would worry about sending him to therapy. Not every slacker kid needs to be pathologized. Sometimes a phase is just a phase. He might be smart enough to use whatever diagnosis a doctor comes up with as an excuse. Unless he says that he's worried about his own behavior, I just don't see it doing any good.)

Last edited by monstro; 09-21-2011 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:46 PM
mozchron mozchron is offline
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I was exactly like this at that age, even down to the reading. I was just bored, and I was in a magnet school.

My parents finally gave up and let me face the consequences.

Of which there were none. I failed 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades, but was passed on because I kept scoring 99th+ percentile on the annual statewide achievement tests. IN the 10th grade, I finally decided to do (some of) the work, because I was interested in it. Science, math, history. Slacked off in the other classes but had figured out that a smart kid could do almost nothing and still pass.

Went to community college, did well, transferred to a state school, did well, and got a PhD.

Of course this was 25 years ago. I'm not sure what would happen to me today. But I don't think you can force your son to do the work. As my mother said to the Principal. "What do you want me to do, hold the pencil for him??!". He has to decide for himself to do it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:12 PM
drpepper drpepper is offline
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Go get a copy of the book 'Ending the Homework Hassle' by John Rosemond.

It is a book that addresses directly and succinctly all the problems you are encountering, and shifts your thinking and your strategy to put the burden and consequences squarely on the shoulders of the kid. None of this time-consuming check-the-assignment-notebook / progress-reports-from-the-teachers every ten minutes etc. that puts all the effort on the part of parents and teachers.

We've used it to great success in our home twice. I highly, highly recommend it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:39 PM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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You can't force an underachiever to achieve. I'm sorry you're going through this, it must be very hard for a parent.

Your son sounds exactly like me at that age, even down to being grounded from books. I was smart, and a good kid at heart, I just didn't care about school or grades. Nothing my parents or teachers did made me care. I flunked for years and dropped out of high school as soon as I could - I don't regret it. I chose not to pursue higher education but am a basically happy person who has had no trouble holding jobs and supporting herself financially since I left my parent's house at 18.

I got a diagnosis of (Inattentive) ADD when I was 11, and we tried medication, but it didn't solve the school problem for me. However I think medication is worth a try for any kid with an ADD diagnosis. For some kids, it totally turns things around school-wise.

My long-term advice would be that if he's still like this at 15-16, by all means encourage him to get his GED, drop out of high school, get a job so you don't have to pay for his stuff, and pursue college/trade school/etc at his own pace and according to his own desires. There's nothing wrong with starting out in community college because your grades in high school were poor. I know a lot of friends who ultimately got degrees from good universities by going that route - including my dad, who was also a massive failure at high school but ended up with his Masters from Cornell.

In contrast to pbbh's story, I look at all my co-workers at my rather menial jobs and am glad I am not struggling to pay off my student loans for 4-year degrees like they are. Such is the economy at the moment.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:42 PM
VOW VOW is offline
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Request the School District Psychologist to screen him for ADD. Depending on your school district, they may or may not balk.

ALSO: first visit your primary care provider and talk to the doctor about the problem. Ask for a referral to a specialist. Don't panic when the referral comes back for a child psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is the best qualified to do the screening.

Report back, LOL, and we'll take it from there.

My son wrestled mightily with ADD. He's extremely bright, which saved his hide, but he only attended about 30-40% of second grade because of his teacher not wanting to cope.

He passed to third grade at or above grade level in every subject, which is a testimony to his intellligence. He still loves to read! A child with ADD just has extreme difficulty in functioning at a classroom level.

Good luck!


~VOW
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Old 09-21-2011, 08:49 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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He sounds really bored to me. Another option (unless they don't do this any more?) is not just advanced classes but skipping grades. If he tests above his grade level then even the advanced classes are probably too easy for him. When I was in 3rd grade, I wasn't skipped exactly, but sent up to 5th and then 6th grade for reading classes.

Rule out a medical problem, and then see about advancing him so he's not bored out of his skull. There's so much different advice in this thread, all of it sounds good depending on what's really going on with him. Find that out first.
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  #23  
Old 09-21-2011, 09:15 PM
WOOKINPANUB WOOKINPANUB is offline
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I could write a dissertation on the topic of "Sixth Grade is THE Turning Point" in a kid's life, assuming he's just started Middle School and possibly still, even if not. Without turning this into the WOOKINPANUB show, I cannot stress enough how much I would advise you to stay on top of this situation.

Abridged bit of advice: punishment is counteractive at this point. Not to criticize your parenting skills, heck, I don't even know you, but I think there's WAY more going on than bad, punishable behavior on his part.

Maybe a conversation along the lines of: Kid, if you're actually having trouble remembering to bring your assignments or parental signature to and from school, then we'll help you with that. And if it's something other than that, we'll help you with that too. We don't know what's going on with you right now but something's wrong and unacceptable, and we're not angry, but we're not going to let it lie.

This can be an incredibally hard time in a kid's life , regardless of how well they've performed scholasticAlly or emotionally in the past.

Apologies if I'm reading your kid or your situation totally wrong but in my experience this is the time when a kid is constantly on the defensive; thus the lying. He's defending himself against his peers, his teachers and his parents because he doesn't really know what the fuck he's supposed to do but feels like people are always challenging him and he's in survival mode.

Eep; sorry if I've gone too far. Your OP struck a chord with me and I only hope things work out for the best.
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Old 09-21-2011, 09:26 PM
John DiFool John DiFool is online now
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Originally Posted by perfectparanoia View Post
There is a limit to how much you can do on this one. From what I hear from the people I know with underachievers, it won't end until they seriously fail at something.
It won't end until they find something which lights a fire under their ass and motives them (this former underachiever knows what he is talking about). It could be a hobby, a sport, a calling of whatever sort, an event which alters his perspectives forever, anything, but until then he will flounder. If he's lucky he won't have to wait until his late 20's to find out.
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  #25  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:23 AM
Askance Askance is offline
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He, probably correctly, feels he has no power in his life. Like a girl with anorexia this is him having some control over something in his life, even though it's negative.

My partner got around this with her son (my step-son) by outright bribery - money for results - but I always had the feeling that had she not insisted on winning every discussion, every argument, had shown some respect for him no matter how small the victory she allowed him, he wouldn't have turned out the sneaky, passive-aggressive he now is.

I always used to say to her: pick your battles, don't make a federal case about every single little transgression. For every criticism you make of him find something, no matter how tiny, to praise. And let him have his say and try and make his case, and when he's wrong (as he will be 90+% of the time) don't make it a humiliation but a constructive lesson. But she couldn't help herself and we are where we are - he's not a bad kid and is doing fairly well at school, but simply cannot ask for something straight up, has to try and inveigle his way in everything. Remarkable like her, oddly enough.
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Old 09-22-2011, 05:22 AM
monstro monstro is offline
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Originally Posted by Askance View Post

I always used to say to her: pick your battles, don't make a federal case about every single little transgression. For every criticism you make of him find something, no matter how tiny, to praise.
This is just strange to me.

Mother: "Johnny, you really need to start being more responsible about turning in your homework. This is ridiculous."

Son: "I know, Mom. Turning in homework is just so dumb, though!"

Mother: "Yes. Yes, it is. Oh, by the way, I like your outfit today. Good job, champ! I love you!"

Are kids really that fragile that you have to actually praise them at every turn? I must have been abused as a kid then. When I screwed up, I got chewed out and that was that. No smoothing over afterwards. I wasn't so delicate that I'd think no one loved me just because I was corrected, as I should have been. I got praised when I did well, but there was no washing up the criticism with some feigned appreciation. That just seems so nonsensical to me.
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Old 09-22-2011, 05:50 AM
Kika Kika is offline
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He, probably correctly, feels he has no power in his life. <snip>
Your son was me. I was in every advanced and "gifted" class available. However, the only reason I graduated from high school on time (or at all) was because I got 1600 on my SATs, and the school didn't want to explain why they didn't graduate someone "that smart."

There's a lot of structure and pressure in the advanced classes. My niece is a basket case right now because she got her first A-. She is 11, and the school is nagging at her about college. And she's still at the maturity level where she wants to play Barbies.

Please get him tested. For me, it was the pressure combined with OCD, depression (couldn't be bothered), and some other abuse issues that had to do with my family. (I am not suggesting that the last is the case with your son, but the first three may be.)

Check with your PCP. I work for some pediatricians and they do deal with a fair number of kids that are on medication for these kinds of issues. My daughter's pediatrician was a life saver when she started displaying anxiety issues. (Not the same, but you get the idea.)

Good luck!

Last edited by Kika; 09-22-2011 at 05:51 AM.. Reason: I can't count
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  #28  
Old 09-22-2011, 07:32 AM
shantih shantih is offline
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This is just strange to me.

Mother: "Johnny, you really need to start being more responsible about turning in your homework. This is ridiculous."

Son: "I know, Mom. Turning in homework is just so dumb, though!"

Mother: "Yes. Yes, it is. Oh, by the way, I like your outfit today. Good job, champ! I love you!"

Are kids really that fragile that you have to actually praise them at every turn? I must have been abused as a kid then. When I screwed up, I got chewed out and that was that. No smoothing over afterwards. I wasn't so delicate that I'd think no one loved me just because I was corrected, as I should have been. I got praised when I did well, but there was no washing up the criticism with some feigned appreciation. That just seems so nonsensical to me.
No, I get it. Adults have more power and experience than children, and if their only communication with their kids is to point out their mistakes, to push them to do what they have to do, to impose their will on the kids, to undermine them as they're in the process of figuring things out instead of helping them along the way and giving them positive messages about themselves and their progress, the result will be frustration and rebellion. It's not a question of 'You completely bombed this test because you didn't study enough. But hey, nice penmanship here where you told Mrs. Mathteacher to kiss your hairy behind!,' but rather making sure that you aren't using your advantages and the power imbalance to keep pushing the kids down and make sure they never have a chance to 'win' once in a while.

OP, I can't give you much useful advice, except to say that this is a classic age and class year for kids (especially boys, in my extremely anecdotal observation) to have difficulties in school and with their parents. It is so worth checking out whether there is an underlying issue like ADHD or depression or bullying or dyslexia, and otherwise it can simply be a sign that he's taking his first steps towards making his own way through life instead of just accepting what he's told to do. The first steps towards independence are painful and mystifying. I hope all goes well for him and for you in the end!
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  #29  
Old 09-22-2011, 07:57 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Time to have a "real world" talk with him. If he's that smart, then he's bored and has figured out that homework is pointless and for chumps. He can do none of it and pass with c's or even better in most classes. Sit him down and ask him directly and respectfully what's up. DO NOT treat him like a kid on this topic. If this is the case, then explain to him that in life we all have to do bullshit, and that is what is called a "job". His job is to do his damn homework and you'll pay him to do so. Providing he doesn't skip assignments etc, pay him a small but reasonable recompense weekly for doing his work and turning it in. Assign him a reasonable standard of performance in the work, then step away. Don't check it, or force him to correct every problem or answer; he's smart enough to do it himself. If he falls below the performance goal he doesn't get paid, and goes back on punishment. Carrot and stick. If that doesn't cure it, nothing will and you'll have to let him fail.

Homework is pointless bullshit for a lot of smart kids. Just because the are children doesn't mean they shouldn't be compensated for their trouble. We do this every day to hold down the house. How many of us would totally do our jobs for free? Not many, I'm willing to bet. We do something we find to be an acceptable level of annoyance in return for a paycheck which allows us to pursue the things we want to do! Kids have their needs met, so what is their motivation to do extra, unpleasant, pointless (to them) work? Punishment only works so much, and yet if we forced adults to work, it's called slavery, or forced labor. It isn't exactly the same, and I know it, but the principle argument is accurate.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 09-22-2011 at 08:00 AM..
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  #30  
Old 09-22-2011, 08:55 AM
ballardfam ballardfam is offline
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Drugs or alcohol. I know he's only eleven so unlikely but it's been known to happen. There are several people in my acquaintence who started 'experimenting' at that age or younger.
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  #31  
Old 09-22-2011, 09:06 AM
Elysium Elysium is offline
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I also suggest having the school psychologist do some testing for learning disorders and ADD.
I was just like your son at age 11 and 12. Once middle school started I just couldn't keep track of everything, and I also told my parents I had no homework, when in fact I had lots of it. But I either wasn't paying enough attention when it was assigned or just completely forgot afterwards. So I wasn't lying, I really thought I had nothing do to.
I often got punished by teachers for reading instead of doing my work. But what they didn't realize was that often I had finished my work (usually the spelling or reading assignments) and was pulling out a book out of boredom.
I got evaluated by the school and diagnosed with ADD, primarily inattentive. I got an IEP and some extra help after class, and extra prompting by the teachers to WRITE DOWN all assignments.

If he is going through what I did, he may have to learn the skills needed to work through something like ADD but also may benefit from medications. I know they are often over prescribed, but they helped me stay focused and made a difference in my grades.
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  #32  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:02 AM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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I talked it over with my wife and we are pretty much decided on getting him checked out at the PCP. He has worked with someone at the school, not sure if it was a psychologist or social worker, in the past but I don't think he was ever tested for anything like ADD or OCD. At least I was never told about it. It will probably take a couple weeks to get an appointment at the PCP's office.

He has no interest in sports. We had him on a t-ball team and he refused to go back a second season because it was too much running. We had him in Tae Kwon Do as well, but he hated that too and we had to drag him to class until our contract ran out. He as stuck with scouting for the past 6 years, and just joined a Boy Scout troop back in March, but he has yet to earn his first rank because he won't do the work to get it.

We've tried bribing him in the past and it has never worked. Candy, McDonald's, video games, money... He'd rather just go without any of that than do his homework. The same goes for cleaning his room.

I sat down with him, just me and him without my wife, and told him that I will treat him like an 11 year old, as long as he acts like an 11 year old. I will do my best to curb my anger as long as he does his best to perform like a 6th grader. It's only been a couple days, so we'll see how well that works.

His accelerated classes demand that he keeps a B+ average or they will move him to a lower level class. He told me he wanted out of the accelerated classes because then he'd have less homework. I told him that was not true. The regular classes have more homework and spend more time on a unit because they need more practice. I'm not sure if that is 100% true, but I am worried that if he moves down, he will be even more bored and things will get worse.

I didn't get into the accelerated math and science courses until I was in high school, myself, so I probably shouldn't be too worried. I'm hoping it's just a phase, but I don't want him to be stuck in a bad situation once he comes out of it.
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  #33  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:10 AM
StGermain StGermain is offline
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My suggestion was more mechanical. Have him scan in his homework each night and e-mail it to the teacher. Once he's scanned and e-mailed it, he's allowed to do his normal pastimes like reading. It might not magically solve all his problems, but the homework will be done and turned in.

StG
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  #34  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:36 AM
Bosstrain Bosstrain is offline
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Where do I start.......well, maybe at the very beginning. A major problem with schools is the way they teach. We're talking about a bunch of under-paid nobodies that are charged with one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world...teaching children. While this should be done by the parents, it's extremely hard to do so in today's world, and even the parents screw this whole teaching thing up really bad. Every child should be tested on various teaching techniques to discover what triggers their brain to want to pay attention, not put them on a drug to make them pay attention that's for sure.

The problem here is not the learning or anything associated with the child, the problem is society. First of all, why does the child need to turn in homework? My dad would say that the whole point of school is to teach you to jump through hoops, I like to add to that and say that after you learn how to jump, then they put you in bigger classroom and make you wear a monkey suit.

Uber intelligent kids are constantly being shoved down and forced to do the same things as the mediocre. I bet that if we merely found those who weren't fit for the monkey suit and seperated them from those that are, we'd have a lot more geniuses running around, and the geniuses that are out there would probably be even smarter I'd imagine.

If he's getting good grades, then I'd say the problem is not with your son. I remember hating textbooks and having to sit all day long in that stupid classroom. I even remember saying to myself: "Man, if I could just go outside and sit around a while, look at some real stuff and feel the wind on my face....I'd be like freakin' Isaac Newton, man." As it turns out, I was entirely correct. It wasn't long after I finally got out of the prison (school), that I actually gained an interest in learning.....but I did it my way, no one elses. Of course, it also turns out that my particular skill is highly useless in a world that revolves around slave labor (if you don't think you're a slave, then try walking out of your workplace and telling your boss you'll be back in a couple hours...and if you still have a job when you come back, then I guess you're not a slave).

No, I'm not some 'F the system' or 'the man's just keepin us down' sorta guy, I'm just someone who has the unique ability to observe what I see and call it what it is. Unlike some punk losers that think there's some system in-place to keep them from being great, I actually understand what's really going on and how there's no way that any society could work differently and survive.

My real point is that your son isn't to be taken lightly. I'd imagine that if there was a school that would simply through the textbooks out the window and teach him some real knowledge, not only would he be greatful, but he'd be able to find out what his true talents are. I actually cried a little when I found out that nothing I learned in school applied to the real world, and it hit me like a bucket of ice-water to the face.

I've got a lot more to say on this subject, but I'm stopingthis post here cause it's way too long......sorry 'bout that.
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  #35  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:42 AM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Originally Posted by Shadowfyre View Post
I talked it over with my wife and we are pretty much decided on getting him checked out at the PCP. He has worked with someone at the school, not sure if it was a psychologist or social worker, in the past but I don't think he was ever tested for anything like ADD or OCD. At least I was never told about it. It will probably take a couple weeks to get an appointment at the PCP's office.

I didn't get into the accelerated math and science courses until I was in high school, myself, so I probably shouldn't be too worried. I'm hoping it's just a phase, but I don't want him to be stuck in a bad situation once he comes out of it.
snip.

Shadowfyre, I'm just a guy on the internet, and my advice is worth exactly what you paid for it, but I'm going to put this out there anyway. Even if your child is diagnosed with some type of ADD/ADHD, think long and hard about it before insisting on a course of medication. Your son sounds just like me at that age. Same love of reading, quick intellect, high test scores, and poor homework performance. Medicating is nothing more or less then altering the brain chemistry of your child. Be very, very, sure you want to do this just to possibly improve his homework performance. Why is this so critical to you? He's in 6 th grade. None of that matters in the least until high school. It doesn't sound at all like he has a problem focusing, but rather that he is simply not interested in the material. He's bored. It's not relevant, or he already knows it. If this is assertion of independence on his part, you might be able to get him to comply by giving up your control on some other part of his life. In my case, bribery worked. It sounds like it may not motivate him so perhaps he needs something else to interest him. Or maybe he just needs time to daydream. Why is it important that he is in accelerated classes?

I'm not anti-meds. Some kids need them. Some adults do as well. I've a friend who isn't able to function normally without them; and while he is brilliant, he is also insufferable without them. Just be really, really sure.

My parents tried this route with me and they only made me feel sluggish and ill. My scores did improve somewhat, but not because of an improvement in focus. It was more that I felt apathetic, and just complied because it felt easier at that point. I had no real will for much. I was quieter. I also lost all my creativity, most of my energy, and a good bit of lust for life while on them. Eventually I just resorted to hiding them between my teeth and gums and spitting them out. Homework scores went back down, but I was happier, and felt like myself again. That was more important. My mother was not pleased but my father had noticed the changes and was glad to have his kid back again, homework problems and all.

Last edited by Acid Lamp; 09-22-2011 at 10:45 AM..
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  #36  
Old 09-22-2011, 10:51 AM
Moonlitherial Moonlitherial is offline
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Originally Posted by Shadowfyre View Post

I sat down with him, just me and him without my wife, and told him that I will treat him like an 11 year old, as long as he acts like an 11 year old. I will do my best to curb my anger as long as he does his best to perform like a 6th grader. It's only been a couple days, so we'll see how well that works.

His accelerated classes demand that he keeps a B+ average or they will move him to a lower level class. He told me he wanted out of the accelerated classes because then he'd have less homework. I told him that was not true. The regular classes have more homework and spend more time on a unit because they need more practice. I'm not sure if that is 100% true, but I am worried that if he moves down, he will be even more bored and things will get worse.

I didn't get into the accelerated math and science courses until I was in high school, myself, so I probably shouldn't be too worried. I'm hoping it's just a phase, but I don't want him to be stuck in a bad situation once he comes out of it.
I think you're on the right track here and it's important to note that if he's the type that will not learn until he fails at something the sooner that happens the better for his future.

Dropping his grades low enough to put him in the normal class stream and having him discover that the grass is not greener on the other side of that particular fence is a lot more recoverable in grade 6 than you continuing to manage his work for him until he is in high school and having him fail there.

You and your wife need to be ready to let him experience the consequences now and to not fight with the school for an exception to be made for him when his grades do dip that low.

There are 3 possible outcomes:
1. he will hate the regular stream as well and continue to avoid homework
2. he will hate the regular stream and start working to get back into his advanced classes
3. he will love the regular stream and will do the work required to stay there.

2/3 ain't bad
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:02 AM
Hello Again Hello Again is offline
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I I will do my best to curb my anger as long as he does his best to perform like a 6th grader. It's only been a couple days, so we'll see how well that works.
Ruh-roh Scooby -- have you had yelling/anger/flare ups over this? It strikes me that your kid is a bit of a Bartleby type ("I would prefer not to") and Bartleby types are almost indescribably stubborn. I know, because I am one. You can't yell at a Bartleby because Bartleby cannot be intimidated. Yelling at Bartleby just makes Bartleby think you are a yelling moron.

True story, my father forced me to learn to ride a bike when I was around 11. I did one lap of the schoolyard to show I could and never, ever sat on a bike again. Bartleby.

Quote:
His accelerated classes demand that he keeps a B+ average or they will move him to a lower level class. He told me he wanted out of the accelerated classes because then he'd have less homework. I told him that was not true. The regular classes have more homework and spend more time on a unit because they need more practice. I'm not sure if that is 100% true, but I am worried that if he moves down, he will be even more bored and things will get worse.
I suggest that if you lie to your son, especially about matters where you are so easily caught out in your lie, you will soon find he believes nothing of what you say and gives little weight to your opinion. Why didn't you tell him the truth as you just stated it above? (highlighted in bold). I honestly can't understand why you didn't. The truth isn't something shameful or embarassing, it's not personal or insulting. What did you profit by lying?

Last edited by Hello Again; 09-22-2011 at 11:04 AM..
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  #38  
Old 09-22-2011, 11:29 AM
Duckster Duckster is offline
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Could the root issue(s) be more than school? How is his home life? No, not just with his parents, but his friends, too? Does he play well alone, and with friends? You feed him well? Does he surf the web alot? Watch TV? Play video games too much?
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  #39  
Old 09-22-2011, 12:21 PM
Shadowfyre Shadowfyre is offline
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Yeah, we've had some issues with yelling lately. It's kind of hard not to. This started fairly slowly, so we kept our temper and tried to work with it. But day after day of what seems like deliberately not following agreements and rules, and nearly constant lies, and teachers start calling home, you lose your temper. I do my best to apologize afterward.

My wife was brought up where she got yelled at for even the most minor infractions until she graduated high school. So I've been trying to temper her temper.

I don't think I lied to him, but I'm not sure that the lower track classes, on any given day, will have more homework than the accelerated classes. I know it is a fact that they take longer to get through each unit in the book. Besides, being bored is not a deterrent to him.

As far as his home life, he does not have many friends. And the few friends he does have tend to distance themselves from him at school so they don't get teased for being his friend. My son has a unique personality that may rub a lot of kids in his grade the wrong way. Since he is the youngest in his class, some of his classmates could be close to a year older than him. And he already acts immature for his age. There had been talk in the past about moving him up a grade, but we never really considered it because there would be an even wider maturity gap between them.

He loves video games and TV, though. That is why we had to ground him from them, so they would not be a distraction. The problem persists even with those distractions removed.
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  #40  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:02 PM
WOOKINPANUB WOOKINPANUB is offline
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Where do I start.......well, maybe at the very beginning. A major problem with schools is the way they teach. We're talking about a bunch of under-paid nobodies that are charged with one of the hardest and most important jobs in the world...teaching children. While this should be done by the parents, it's extremely hard to do so in today's world, and even the parents screw this whole teaching thing up really bad. Every child should be tested on various teaching techniques to discover what triggers their brain to want to pay attention, not put them on a drug to make them pay attention that's for sure.

The problem here is not the learning or anything associated with the child, the problem is society. First of all, why does the child need to turn in homework? My dad would say that the whole point of school is to teach you to jump through hoops, I like to add to that and say that after you learn how to jump, then they put you in bigger classroom and make you wear a monkey suit.

Uber intelligent kids are constantly being shoved down and forced to do the same things as the mediocre. I bet that if we merely found those who weren't fit for the monkey suit and seperated them from those that are, we'd have a lot more geniuses running around, and the geniuses that are out there would probably be even smarter I'd imagine.

If he's getting good grades, then I'd say the problem is not with your son. I remember hating textbooks and having to sit all day long in that stupid classroom. I even remember saying to myself: "Man, if I could just go outside and sit around a while, look at some real stuff and feel the wind on my face....I'd be like freakin' Isaac Newton, man." As it turns out, I was entirely correct. It wasn't long after I finally got out of the prison (school), that I actually gained an interest in learning.....but I did it my way, no one elses. Of course, it also turns out that my particular skill is highly useless in a world that revolves around slave labor (if you don't think you're a slave, then try walking out of your workplace and telling your boss you'll be back in a couple hours...and if you still have a job when you come back, then I guess you're not a slave).

No, I'm not some 'F the system' or 'the man's just keepin us down' sorta guy, I'm just someone who has the unique ability to observe what I see and call it what it is. Unlike some punk losers that think there's some system in-place to keep them from being great, I actually understand what's really going on and how there's no way that any society could work differently and survive.My real point is that your son isn't to be taken lightly. I'd imagine that if there was a school that would simply through the textbooks out the window and teach him some real knowledge, not only would he be greatful, but he'd be able to find out what his true talents are. I actually cried a little when I found out that nothing I learned in school applied to the real world, and it hit me like a bucket of ice-water to the face.

I've got a lot more to say on this subject, but I'm stopingthis post here cause it's way too long......sorry 'bout that.
Damn, why did you wait so long to impart your knowledge? You could have eliminated the very reason for the SDMB and its ignorance fighting decades ago.
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  #41  
Old 09-22-2011, 01:15 PM
DigitalC DigitalC is offline
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Your kid sounds exactly like me. I had the smarts, i did great on tests, but one day the idea of homework simply started sounding like the worst fucking thing in the world. I stopped doing homework and simply never could get into it again. I took no classes in college that counted homework for more than 20% of my total grade because i knew i would not do it no matter what it was. I became a master at copying and pasting my way to research papers before teachers wised up to it enough to stop me. Highschool was fine, i pulled As and Bs, but giving up such a huge % of my grade cost me dearly in college. I'm in my 30s now i still have this dream.
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  #42  
Old 09-22-2011, 02:06 PM
Bosstrain Bosstrain is offline
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He loves video games and TV, though. That is why we had to ground him from them, so they would not be a distraction. The problem persists even with those distractions removed.
There isn't a kid alive that doesn't love TV or games . You could, however, use this to your advantage. Tell him if he gets his homework and stuff done and turned in properly and all that, he gets a set amount of time to watch or play. Just a thought, this sorta worked on me, but not much, who knows though, everyone's different, I'd say it's worth a try. Sometimes taking something away entirely has a negative effect, of course this whole thing is based around psychology, and that takes in-depth study of the person in-particular. A suggestion, I may be over-stepping my boundaries here, but something I notice on a daily bases is how little respect children are given. If you treat your child as a child........he'll grow up to be, you guessed it, a child. On the other hand, treating a child more and more like an adult and letting him/her have more and more responsibility and control over their life, then they grow to be an adult.......you can even buy him a monkey suit when he graduates (sorry, I had to add that merely for my own amusement).

Quote:
Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB View Post
Damn, why did you wait so long to impart your knowledge? You could have eliminated the very reason for the SDMB and its ignorance fighting decades ago.
I realize you are merely being facetious, but you are and are not correct at the same time. True, I admit that if someone were to actually heed my advice and not merely call me an inexperienced, bombastic little A-hole then just maybe my veiws on the world itself could possibly change people and the way things are done as a whole. However, this would not work, if only because I understand that there are people that trod on people, and there are people that are born to be trodden upon.......it doesn't work any other way, in fact, it's not really even that bad, I just wish the poor people in Japan would wake up and realize they're on an island......get the hell off that thing! (sorry, got a bit off subject there, this thread's about school, not global stupidity, but they actually walk hand and hand in the big picture)

Last edited by Bosstrain; 09-22-2011 at 02:08 PM..
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  #43  
Old 09-22-2011, 02:25 PM
Mama Zappa Mama Zappa is offline
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There is a limit to how much you can do on this one. From what I hear from the people I know with underachievers, it won't end until they seriously fail at something....
To clarify: "until they seriously fail at something THEY CARE ABOUT".

Moon Unit is notorious for finding ways out of doing her homework. Lies about it, forgets it, loses the assignment, says she's done it (then at 9 PM panics because she hasn't....). We've tried incentives, punishments (no computer until your homework is done, and PROVE IT)... and have at this point basically decided that all of these wind up taking FAR too much of OUR energy, and she doesn't give a rat's ass about it until she DOES fail, then she panics.... and then does it all over again.

Not just school work either. She's responsible for her own laundry... and as a consequence will go as long as humanly possible, with a kid-sized pile in one corner of her room. I once told her "no more computer this week until it's done". So after a day she said "I'm done". I checked.... and the pile had been reduced by 50%. Nope "all means all".

And on another occasion, I told her she had to finish her laundry, fold it, take it to her room and (gasp) PUT IT AWAY before using the computer. She told me she did. I saw her on the computer. I went to her room - and the clothing was piled on the bed.

I went downstairs and told her she had to go do it now, because I'd looked and saw the piles. She said, in a tone of utter betrayal "Don't you TRUST ME?????".

Um, no, actually, no, I don't.
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  #44  
Old 09-22-2011, 03:48 PM
AndyLee AndyLee is offline
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I was exactly like this. I was in advanced courses and it was hard. Then I saw my first report card and noticed that, the courses were the same. It said, Algebra for my advanced course and Algebra for the low tracked classed. We had four tracks, Advanced, Red, White, Blue tracks, with blue being the easiest.

I immediately went to my counselor and dropped to blue track and sailed through my courses. I still don't regret it. I got A's and I was smart enough to know what to study, like my SAT test, which got me into an excellent college, because the college just saw the course work and no indication of the level.

I say, let the kid drop out of the advance classes and go to the basic. See if the problem continues. The thing is you want what's best for the kid. But right now, you're not seeing that, you're in a power struggle.

11 years olds are just starting to realize they don't have to do what you want. So you may win the power struggle and fail doing what's best for a kid.

People are remarkable in their ability to cope. If you take away things, they won't care. I was raised without much and it never bothered me. Parents often want a magic bullet like, if he's tested for a disorder it'll instantly solve the problem if that is it.

My experience, indicates, even people who claim, I was tested and I got straightened out. Even when that's true, it doesn't happen nearly as fast or cleanly as people remember.

Your 11 year old has found out he can take the easy way out and in reality there's not much you can do to him, save taking away a few things, he can easily live without anyway.

Instead of the power struggle find out what motovates him. This is the key to real childhood depression and uninterest. A real depression has a flat interest in pretty much everything, while an uninterst has the kid, able to focus when he finds something he likes.
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Old 09-22-2011, 03:55 PM
Bosstrain Bosstrain is offline
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I went downstairs and told her she had to go do it now, because I'd looked and saw the piles. She said, in a tone of utter betrayal "Don't you TRUST ME?????".

Um, no, actually, no, I don't.
Zappa Mama, you could try the sink or swim tactic. I realize this is somewhat dangerous because you're worried about the future and all, but trust me, you'll never be able to hold their hand forever, it's better to let them learn the consequences while you can still reach out and grab them before they drown. If you don't do it now, then one day they'll be in the middle of the ocean without any support at all.

I may have some beef with this whole issue possibly, so I apologize for being so adamant about it all. My parents did not prepare me or my brother in any way whatsoever, but that's not for lack of trying, it's their lack of understanding how the world revolves and what makes it tick....mostly because my dad isn't the type to talk to you unless dealing out a whole lot of pain on your posterior (mostly on my brother, I watched him get the belt every night, so decided not to do anything too stupid), and my mom is amazingly ignorant about a whole lot of things, so much so I wonder if I'm adopted or my dad had extra-marital relations they've kept secret all these years.........hmmmmm.
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  #46  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:17 PM
Teufelblitz Teufelblitz is offline
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Throw me in with the others who say this describes them in sixth grade and beyond. I did fine in school until teachers started integrating homework more heavily into my grades.

For me, in earlier grades, homework was something you took home to get the concepts down. You then demonstrated that you understood the concept by answering the test questions correctly. Round about sixth grade, they start sending home folders and such that can make up as much as 25% of your grade depending on the teacher. So far as I can tell, they consider this to be a "gimme" part of the grade. Something that only takes the effort of shuffling papers in a semi-organized fashion and scribbling on them. To me, at the time, they were a waste of effort. I could be doing any number of things in that time. None of those things were important or relevant to anything, but gosh darn it, at least I wasn't rehashing concepts I already understood. That was when I stopped being a star pupil.

From that point forward I never turned in a single shred of homework. I got all the punishments at various times, but none of them made a difference. Eventually I think my mother gave up because I was still getting passing grades. As long as homework didn't make up the majority of the grading, I was fine with a C average.

I made it all the way to my senior year like that. By that time I needed only one credit to graduate. Senior English was the only class I ever flat out failed because it was essentially nothing but homework.

I never had a goal, and couldn't solidify one in my head to save my life.

Every person is different, so I can't really give you solid advice to curb this behavior. However, I would highly suggest thinking about alternate methods of education if you can afford them. I learned best at my own pace and by my own rules. I suspect if he is like me, alternate methods or even home schooling may work well. I understand this can be impractical, but it may be necessary.

I would also suggest against sending him to college straight after high school unless you sincerely don't like your money for some reason.

Last edited by Teufelblitz; 09-22-2011 at 04:19 PM..
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  #47  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:35 PM
you with the face you with the face is offline
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Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
Homework is pointless bullshit for a lot of smart kids.
Okay, but it's pretty dumb to slack off on homework, knowing full well that your grades will suffer if you don't do it. And what happens if your grades suffer? In the short term, you get grounded and scolded. In the long term, bad grades could lead to you being a loser living in your mother's basement. This is what a kid who is truly smart should see.

Homework feels like pointless BS to most kids, not just smart ones. It ain't like the slower ones put up with it purely out of the desire for self-improvement, right? No, they do it either because of external pressure (like parents) or because they are personally motivated to succeed at school. So intelligence is a red herring here. Kids that slack off on homework simply lack the drive and motivation to do well in school. The fear of failing in that area just doesn't keep them awake at night. Overconfidence in one's smarts could certainly lead to this.

I'm not exactlyy sure what advice to give the OP. There's probably little she/he can do except continue to reinforce negative consequences and tell the kid that being smart isn't a pass for poor performance. I actually wonder what would happen if the OP expressed concern to the kid over whether he is capable of handling all the new demands of the 6th grade. "Do you want me to see if I change your classes to less accelerated ones? Maybe you'd have a better shot of completing your assignments if they were less difficult?" Make him see the impression that his behavior is sending. Maybe this will provoke him into proving himself capable.
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  #48  
Old 09-22-2011, 04:55 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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Originally Posted by Askance View Post
He, probably correctly, feels he has no power in his life. Like a girl with anorexia this is him having some control over something in his life, even though it's negative.
This how it was with me. I had always been a bright kid, and around that age it dawned on me...I don't have to be bright. I could be whatever the hell I wanted to be. I could be a total fuckup if I felt like it.

What a feeling! After a lifetime of busting ass for other people's expectations, with my "brightness" hanging around me like a millstone (full of that big question- what if I fail? What if I'm not actually that bright? Will people still think I'm worth something?) I realized I could just say "No." I could just not do it. For the first time ever, I felt like I was exercising some free will- for once doing something just for me, that only I would have to answer to.

And it felt so good to have the expectations plummet. Suddenly it went from "Sven, you need to think about an internship for your Harvard application" to "Sven, please try to stay awake in class." What was expected of me got so much more manageable, and it was much less of a burden.

I stopped paying any attention in class. I stopped doing my homework. I sabotaged whatever I could- writing random numbers on math tests, getting myself put in detention. And oh boy, did I get in trouble! Every kind of trouble you can get in to. They tried to take everything they could away from me. But i knew, I knew that this was still mine. The one thing they couldn't actually do was force me to perform at school. Frankly, having the privileges taken away heightened my resolve.

As expected, I failed a class. Then I had to retake it in summer school. That wasn't much fun at all.

Having answered the question that was nagging at me- what happens if I just don't do it- I went on with my life. I never really reached my potential until college, where I didn't have letter grades and where I didn't have to tell my family anything. This was great- I felt like I was doing school for me and for my future. I knew that the negative effects of slacking off were going to affect only me. With that kind of ownership of my life, I was able to take charge.
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  #49  
Old 09-22-2011, 05:55 PM
monstro monstro is offline
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Perhaps every time he says he doesn't have any homework, you can say:

"OK, then. I'll give you an assignment. I want you to read the first chapter of <an enriching book meant for advanced readers that you got from the library> and report to me later tonight about what you read. If you don't want to do this, then you will clean out the garage/help Mom with dinner/do the dishes/wash the bathrooms/mow the yard. Every time you say you don't have homework, I'll find something constructive for you to do. Because everyone has work to do, and learning is your job. It shouldn't stop when you get home. Understand?"

It sounds like lack of inner drive is at the root of this. Not ruling out other explanations, but from your description, it sounds like a personality thing. While you await diagnoses or whatever, it wouldn't hurt to help him develop a work ethic and endurance.

The first book I would recommend is "The Genius in All of Us". It contains a couple of bad words, but it talks about the value of hard work in creating "genius". Some concepts may go over his head, but if he's as bright as you say, this may be a good thing. Maybe you can put a magic marker over the bad words.
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  #50  
Old 09-22-2011, 06:40 PM
Acid Lamp Acid Lamp is offline
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Originally Posted by you with the face View Post
Okay, but it's pretty dumb to slack off on homework, knowing full well that your grades will suffer if you don't do it. And what happens if your grades suffer? In the short term, you get grounded and scolded. In the long term, bad grades could lead to you being a loser living in your mother's basement. This is what a kid who is truly smart should see.


Really?...

A couple of points here. First, he is in sixth grade. He has another three years to fuck up as much as he likes and it's all a wash. Until high school it doesn't mean diddle dick, and even then nothing can stop him from going to community college. Secondly, success in life has little to do with grades in middle school. The kid is smart and able to apply himself when interested. A better method would be to allow him time to explore what is interesting to him and then encourage the shit out of it, whatever it happens to be. Success is created through interest, drive, and a hell of a lot of luck. Most of us never make it as far as we wanted, but ended up just fine. I WAS that kid, and I've got two college degrees, am married, have friends, and generally happy with life.
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