A mother’s plight

I have a child who isn’t motivated by ANYTHING. He’s having trouble in school…not turning in homework, doing poorly on tests, doodling instead of taking notes, etc. (he’s a lot like me, actually…but school came much easier to me than it does to him)

I need help.

Tonight, if I don’t beat him into submission, I’m going to have to figure out how to snap him to attention.

We’ve offered to pay him– $10 for every A on his report card; $5 for Bs and nothing for Cs…anything lower, and he owes us money. He seemed excited about this and we thought–YAY! WE FOUND HIS MOTIVATION. Since we made this deal, he’s missed 3 homework assignments. ARGH!

Should I promise him a trip to wherever he wants to go if he straightens up? Should I beat the snot outta him? Should I just ignore it and hope it’ll go away?

The teacher is asking for advice–unfortunately, I have none to give. Sigh.

4 thoughts on “A mother’s plight

  1. Sounds like what’s really going on here is a lack of focus. Addressing that punatively doesn’t usually work. I’ve never been in favor of paying for good grades. I don’t think it works in the long term. Somewhere, somehow you need to find a hook for him to do it for himself. There’s pride in accomplishment and sharing that is one of the best ways to reward our kids.

    He’s got to be motivated about something somewhere. Find his passion and share it with him. It may not be academic but it’s a valuable exercise nonetheless because it’s collaborative and that’s a good thing.

    Another thing…is there some underlying problem? Is he not challenged enough? Bored kids can be underachievers easily. Is there a vision or hearing problem? I don’t know much about learning disabilities but they can make someone not want to try also.

    You haven’t said how old he is (and I don’t remember), but classicly boys have trouble becoming engaged until sometime in high school and then they crank. I think it’s hormonal.

    My DS was doing very average (with a D in Japanese) in middle school and now he’s taking AP and Honors classes in HS. The turn around was mainly his with my rooting for him. I also explained that if he wants to be in the better (honors) classes so he won’t be bored he has to work harder, and if he wants to get into the college he wants to get into, he’s going to have to do the work to get there.

    One other thing–he has unrestricted television, video games, and computer. I did make it clear that if he wanted to continue to have that, he had to act like he knew how to handle it. In other words, if you want me to treat you like a grown up, you gotta act like one.


  2. Mel,

    I wish I could suggest some things to do.

    Both my kids are super motivated but it’s them and nothing I do. I cheer on their efforts, work with them if they need help (Girl needs help with spelling due to her speech problem) and constantly inquire if they are ok. Boy is bored in his AP classes.

    Offering you tons of support as you find a way for your son.



  3. I had the same problem with my daughter. This general lack of motivation and there seemed to be nothing I could use against her. No threat big enough to convince her to focus.

    Bribes worked even less. She wasn’t failing, but definitely not giving her all and homework became torture for both of us.

    Then we moved and she found the Kids Farm. She LOVES this place and wants to go every day after school to take care of the animals and ride horses. Finally I had my leverage. Threatening to strike a day on the farm works wonders. Sounds cruel, but it’s true. Becaues she really cares about it.

    The other thing I found is to have her do homework with someone other than me. The best thing for her is an older, pretty teenager. She automatically wants to impress and tries harder.

    Maybe you can find a college babe to tutor your son. As we all know, women can work wonders! LOL


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