Teenage son struggling with school


Hi coaches. Yesterday I had a frustrating conversation with my 13.5-year-old son. We’re right at the end of the holidays, I was expecting him – as we had agreed – to do some math & start getting back into a routine again, slowly. He did only 15 min of work, the minimum, while I had asked him to do 30 min. I had set an expectation of doing this and then moving on to screentime. He resisted, and we had an argument where he talked about being ‘uninterested in school’ and got frustrated and angry. The argument didn’t escalate, we both removed ourselves and calmed down. However, bottom line is, he then did his screentime, didn’t get work done, and I found myself having all sorts of feelings & thoughts.

The main thoughts are around the importance of education and my worry about my son, as both my husband and I place great value in excellent education & have build our lives around that.

Our son is generally a good student, with high expected grades, however in his last report in December there was a drop in grades (only 2 As and many Bs which used to be As). My sense is that all autumn he was hugely overdoing it in screentime, hasn’t branched out properly with friendships at school, and feels uninterested and unmotivated. He is a bit of a late bloomer, as I see it, and quite shy. Here are my models today. I want some help in moving this forward.

Unintentional model
C: a conversation with son yesterday about school, he talked about not being interested in school work
T: education is the most important thing for future goals, he can’t manage without it!
F: panic
A: I got irritated at my son and talked to him about our expectations while he was angry
I then had negative ruminating panicky thoughts
Stuck as to how to respond
son still got screentime last night even though I had said he needed to do 30 min school work but he only did 15 min; so my panic led to confusion about structures and not following through
R: not showing up as the parent I want, not offering a clear structure & clear consequences & expectations

Intentional model
C: conversation with son yesterday about school, he talked about not being interested in school work
T: ???
F: confident
A: discuss again with husband
praise effort
clearer routines for homework & screentime
build on what’s going well (son has cut down on screentime hugely during holiday) – persevere with less screentime
take into account context: covid disruptions, holiday finishing
talk to teachers: what’s getting in the way?
R: show up as the parent I want to be, clear structure with consequences, expectations, follow-through