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Seeking advice on teen boys :)


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DS is a freshman in public high school, an excellent student, He has always been a very self motivated learner - teaching himself photography, music production, basically utilizing his free time in a way I approved of  :lol:

 

But now, he is very uninspired about school. His grades are still excellent - he takes pride in that and right now it doesn't take a lot of effort. He has turned into a teenager on me :huh:  I don't know how hard to push, how much to make him do. I looked into some classes for the summer, and he said none looked interesting. I found the application for our state's Governor's School and he said he wasn't interested. He is not depressed. He just says he doesn't find his classes interesting. 

 

How do you decide how hard to push kids with ability and no interest. He has little homework, he does his chores and helps around the house without complaint, volunteers about 5 hours a week, but still has too much free time on his hands. He has a very nice group of friends, but they are all into this video game which has taken over his free time and is driving me crazy. But, if he were hanging out with his friends in person, instead of on earphones, I don't think I would think about it the same way? And he's going to school all day - shouldn't he spend his free time as he likes? 

 

Give me your best BTDT parenting and school advice for the high school academic years.  

 

Thanks! 

 
Edited by lewber
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It sounds completely normal to me. Most 14 y/o boys are not terribly excited about school. If he is an excellent student in his high school, that's great. I think it's not fair to expect enthusiasm on top of it.

I would not make a teen take summer classes; it sounds very normal to me for him not to want to spend his summer doing more school!

 

If his high school schedule is anything like the typical schedule, with school from 8 to 3 and then homework, I would let him use his available free time as he pleases - with one caveat: I would insist on regular physical activity. But being forced to be in school all day, he may need evenings to just hang out and de-stress.

 

He may at some point find something that excites and inspires him, but you cannot make him find this thing. My DS was around 14 when he discovered martial arts and fell in love with it. Your son may not yet have found his "thing".

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It sounds completely normal to me. Most 14 y/o boys are not terribly excited about school. If he is an excellent student in his high school, that's great. I think it's not fair to expect enthusiasm on top of it.

I would not make a teen take summer classes; it sounds very normal to me for him not to want to spend his summer doing more school!

 

If his high school schedule is anything like the typical schedule, with school from 8 to 3 and then homework, I would let him use his available free time as he pleases - with one caveat: I would insist on regular physical activity. But being forced to be in school all day, he may need evenings to just hang out and de-stress.

 

He may at some point find something that excites and inspires him, but you cannot make him find this thing. My DS was around 14 when he discovered martial arts and fell in love with it. Your son may not yet have found his "thing".

 

Thank You. That is very helpful. I feel that way mostly, but then I think I am failing him in some way but not "pushing" him. He doesn't have any homework really - maybe an hour or two a week.

 

I think the video game is getting to me, but really it was a lot over winter break and since then we have had a lot of snow days. So, he's had more free time than usual. 

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Part of the problem is that the vast majority of the time, school *is* uninspiring.  And upping the level of "challenge" by adding a bunch of AP classes or whatever usually doesn't make it any more inspiring because the bulk of the challenge those sorts of courses provide is only to a kid's executive skills, which just makes things tedious rather than interesting.

 

I think the core of the issue with these bright kids who are uninspired is that they are having trouble seeing the point of going the extra mile.  If they aren't intrinsically driven to do what might be considered "worthwhile" by the outside world, then they just don't.

 

So the question becomes, how do you get a kid like this see that going above and beyond playing video games is something he should aspire to?  Frankly, I am struggling with this myself.  After raising a kid whose goal since he was 9yo was to go to MIT and become a world-class robotics engineer (he is not at MIT, BTW), my current teen is in the same state you describe yours being in.  He does well in school with little effort, but he tells me that the classes are "meaningless."  He finally decided to drop the two most "meaningless" courses at the end of last semester and we are now homeschooling for those (English + some sort of humanities/social science/technology combination) and he seems to have perked up a bit.  But his goal in life is to attend the (very good) state flagship, and he'll likely get in fairly easily even without stellar extracurriculars, so there is no carrot there as there was with MIT and my older son.

 

Ok, I'm totally rambling.  All of this is to say that I get it.  Am there, doing that.  Ugh.

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Thank You. That is very helpful. I feel that way mostly, but then I think I am failing him in some way but not "pushing" him. He doesn't have any homework really - maybe an hour or two a week.

 

You could do the pushing if you homeschooled, but I don't think it's fair to make a kid go to school and then pile on more schoolwork afterwards.

I tried for quite some time to compensate for a low expectation school by trying to afterschool, only to be met with resistance, and I think rightly so.

 

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You could do the pushing if you homeschooled, but I don't think it's fair to make a kid go to school and then pile on more schoolwork afterwards.

I tried for quite some time to compensate for a low expectation school by trying to afterschool, only to be met with resistance, and I think rightly so.

 

 

Yes, this is very true. Good point. 

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Part of the problem is that the vast majority of the time, school *is* uninspiring.  And upping the level of "challenge" by adding a bunch of AP classes or whatever usually doesn't make it any more inspiring because the bulk of the challenge those sorts of courses provide is only to a kid's executive skills, which just makes things tedious rather than interesting.

 

I think the core of the issue with these bright kids who are uninspired is that they are having trouble seeing the point of going the extra mile.  If they aren't intrinsically driven to do what might be considered "worthwhile" by the outside world, then they just don't.

 

So the question becomes, how do you get a kid like this see that going above and beyond playing video games is something he should aspire to?  Frankly, I am struggling with this myself.  After raising a kid whose goal since he was 9yo was to go to MIT and become a world-class robotics engineer (he is not at MIT, BTW), my current teen is in the same state you describe yours being in.  He does well in school with little effort, but he tells me that the classes are "meaningless."  He finally decided to drop the two most "meaningless" courses at the end of last semester and we are now homeschooling for those (English + some sort of humanities/social science/technology combination) and he seems to have perked up a bit.  But his goal in life is to attend the (very good) state flagship, and he'll likely get in fairly easily even without stellar extracurriculars, so there is no carrot there as there was with MIT and my older son.

 

Ok, I'm totally rambling.  All of this is to say that I get it.  Am there, doing that.  Ugh.

 Oh my, this is so true about the classes! Thank you for sharing. College is not a carrot right now for him either - he is already asking about a Gap year to travel. 

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Ugh, teen boys can be hard.  My ds was like that as a freshman, too.  We did limit the computer time.  Like radically.  Only 4 hours a week of gaming.  It made a huge difference.(See Reset Your Child's Brain by Victoria Dunkley).

 

IRL activities around things he enjoyed were mandatory.  IRL social events, as well.

 

Time and maturity.  It was so hard, b/c he had been such a lively, curious, eager student as an elementary kid.  And he just wasn't interested for much of high school.

 

The good news:  He is a senior and has just blossomed.  He applied for an honors program at a college that is full of integrated humanities and everything I wanted his high school to be.  We don't know if he'll attend that college, but he thinks the program is so interesting and loved having to read Augustine's City of God to discuss at the interview.  That is not the boy I had for most of high school, at.all.

 

He has also decided to study Japanese (on his own time--not for credit) and to pick up the piano again.

 

So, give it time, encourage him to get out and do things and limit the gaming.

 

 

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Ugh, teen boys can be hard.  My ds was like that as a freshman, too.  We did limit the computer time.  Like radically.  Only 4 hours a week of gaming.  It made a huge difference.(See Reset Your Child's Brain by Victoria Dunkley).

 

IRL activities around things he enjoyed were mandatory.  IRL social events, as well.

 

Time and maturity.  It was so hard, b/c he had been such a lively, curious, eager student as an elementary kid.  And he just wasn't interested for much of high school.

 

The good news:  He is a senior and has just blossomed.  He applied for an honors program at a college that is full of integrated humanities and everything I wanted his high school to be.  We don't know if he'll attend that college, but he thinks the program is so interesting and loved having to read Augustine's City of God to discuss at the interview.  That is not the boy I had for most of high school, at.all.

 

He has also decided to study Japanese (on his own time--not for credit) and to pick up the piano again.

 

So, give it time, encourage him to get out and do things and limit the gaming.

 

This sounds like my DS exactly - always eager and curious and now, not so much. I have suggested so many groups and activities and nothing seems to spark his interest. I hesitate to go hard core on the hours, but considering it. I'm not sure I'm the best example right now though, so it's hard for me to say a whole lot without being hypocritical. DH and and I are discussing it. I think part of it is weather related to. This gaming really started over winter break. 

 

So glad your DS has blossomed this year. Thanks for sharing.

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What you can do is expose him to possibilities...for us that was via sports, scouting, and music. 

 

Your dc sounds like he has interests, photography and music production, and he is meeting his social needs via video games.  Could you get him involved in an activity where he could use his interests to meet a wider circle of people?  Photography could be with the school yearbook or musical or volunteering with the crew that provides the poor free photos at holidays; music production w/school music dept or community group? Or is he interested in producing music for video games? We found getting involved in community brought a lot of interesting opportunities that widened son's world. 

 

School advice...DE if there aren't any deep courses coming up..just not worth it to stick out a low expectations high school.

 

I'm going to look more into the DE. It is not common at our school, or state, really. But I need to learn more about the options. Thanks for the tip!

 

He has started volunteering recently with an organization that could have some of these benefits given some time. But I'm sure there are others out there. He's not the most social kid - very, very picky about his friends and happy to spend hours by himself - (just like his mom)  :lol: But I do think involvement usually leads to good things even for us introverts. 

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We don't limit the gaming as much as I'd like to as it is his way of spending time with his friends that he only sees 1-2x per month. But he does have youth group, bass guitar lessons (this is what he really enjoys and he practices at least an hour a day), and yoga regularly and soccer seasonally. Schoolwork - his grades are good to excellent, chores - he has some regular work and is quite helpful when I need him to be "tall" or "strong" when his Dad's not home...I don't feel right about loading him up with more just to be sure he's being as productive as possible. He should easily get into the college he wants so I can't pressure him in that way.  If he wants to watch Youtube videos about his game and play a few times a week, I think it's ok.

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We don't limit the gaming as much as I'd like to as it is his way of spending time with his friends that he only sees 1-2x per month. But he does have youth group, bass guitar lessons (this is what he really enjoys and he practices at least an hour a day), and yoga regularly and soccer seasonally. Schoolwork - his grades are good to excellent, chores - he has some regular work and is quite helpful when I need him to be "tall" or "strong" when his Dad's not home...I don't feel right about loading him up with more just to be sure he's being as productive as possible. He should easily get into the college he wants so I can't pressure him in that way.  If he wants to watch Youtube videos about his game and play a few times a week, I think it's ok.

 

 

I agree with all of this and it sounds like we have similar boys.

 

But lately he has been playing a lot - yesterday was a snow day and he played probably 7-8 hours. He had no homework, he shoveled snow for about an hour, he walked the dog twice, and he went out to eat with DH and I. He doesn't have any regular after school activities so sometimes he might play for 3-4 hours an evening. He's just never played video games - ever - even when he was much younger, but this is what his friends do and it is their social outlet. I hear him laughing and talking and he is having fun, and it wouldn't bother me if they were playing a board game together in person for all those hours. So, I'm torn. 

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He's just never played video games - ever - even when he was much younger, but this is what his friends do and it is their social outlet. I hear him laughing and talking and he is having fun, and it wouldn't bother me if they were playing a board game together in person for all those hours. So, I'm torn. 

 

I feel the same way but I let it go. He played way too much over the holiday and then he went back to normal. But. Our gaming system is in the living room so he can't play (his game is Destiny) without our knowing it. When he's hanging in his room in the evening I know that he's wasting time online but the only game he might be playing is Minecraft, which I kind of like. If he's viewing something unsavory...well, my husband is in charge of that and I just don't worry about it lol.

 

Iow, I know exactly when he's on and for how long AND he has to ask permission because he can't just take over the living room without running it past me or Dad first. So we do have a lot of control. We *could* say no and he knows it - we just rarely do.

 

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I originally thought of gaming online with others like playing board games irl.  But I realized it really wasn't.  Particularly if they move toward doing it with people they meet online. It just isn't as restorative.  I relax some of the gaming rules if his irl are playing with him irl.  I also make sure some of the time is spend not gaming.  B/c of his best friend's schedule, he only really hung out 1-2 x a month (although he saw him weekly).  I had to find a group (in another state) where he could see folks more often.  I think my ds got depressed and what seemed like a good connection ended up replacing and taking away his desire/motivation to connect to folks irl.  Now, this was my ds and might not apply to your situation. It's just something to keep in mind as a damper of motivation (try to at least look at the book I recommended. There was a list of traits of teens who are on screens too much and so much of it applied to my ds.)  I think my ds's issues were a mash of hormones, too much screentime and a long-term friend who turned toxic (and actually *had* been toxic for longer, but I hadn't recognized it).  Expanding his social world, getting out more and limiting screen time were the keys here.  But I'm sure maturity had some to do with it, too.

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So, give it time, encourage him to get out and do things and limit the gaming.

 

thank you freesia! just the inspiring story i'd like to hear. we're at 15 1/2 here. doing good, probably in the grand scheme of things, but difficult at times nonetheless. gaming is an endless problem for us - we too have severe limits. and we have no interests really right now either - except the things that must be done (volunteer, etc). i'm happy to hear there is a light at the end of the tunnel of teenage-hood. :D  i'll look into that book. i'm glad to hear others feel the same we do.

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I agree with all of this and it sounds like we have similar boys.

 

But lately he has been playing a lot - yesterday was a snow day and he played probably 7-8 hours. He had no homework, he shoveled snow for about an hour, he walked the dog twice, and he went out to eat with DH and I. He doesn't have any regular after school activities so sometimes he might play for 3-4 hours an evening. He's just never played video games - ever - even when he was much younger, but this is what his friends do and it is their social outlet. I hear him laughing and talking and he is having fun, and it wouldn't bother me if they were playing a board game together in person for all those hours. So, I'm torn. 

 

My DS is a very strong introvert who could never tolerate much in-person-togetherness with friends - once every two weeks homeschool playgroup was enough. He started interacting more and strengthening friendships through gaming; he would play with his friends, they would talk for hours. That was a great thing for his development. If they were sitting in the basement playing board games we'd be thrilled, right? But computer gaming is not so different; I appreciate what it did for my kids' socialization. He has a good circle of friends and can interact in person just fine, so it's not like gaming caused social awkwardness. 

 

And your DS is in school all day - for an introvert, that is plenty of forced togetherness

Edited by regentrude
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What you can do is expose him to possibilities...for us that was via sports, scouting, and music. 

 

Your dc sounds like he has interests, photography and music production, and he is meeting his social needs via video games.  Could you get him involved in an activity where he could use his interests to meet a wider circle of people?  Photography could be with the school yearbook or musical or volunteering with the crew that provides the poor free photos at holidays; music production w/school music dept or community group? Or is he interested in producing music for video games? We found getting involved in community brought a lot of interesting opportunities that widened son's world. 

 

School advice...DE if there aren't any deep courses coming up..just not worth it to stick out a low expectations high school.

 

Thanks again for this DE tip - we met with his school counselor today for next year's schedule and I asked about this. Our high school doesn't offer it for sophomores, but his junior and senior year have lots of possibilities that he was genuinely interested in. It was good for him to hear that it can get better.  We have a big mix at our local high school, and some very high ability and performing students. She talked to him about their path through high school and the classes they were doing either as DE, or a special AP independent study through a virtual school, and it was really helpful to see there are options.

 

 

He and his friends wrote and recorded a rap song for their science project :lol: , so he was busy on that this week since he has the microphone and music production software. That kept the gaming to a minimum this week. 

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He has AP Human Geography this year and he'll have AP World next year as regular classes. With Spanish and Health/Gym he doesn't have any other room in his schedule next year for independent study. I am suggesting the music tech idea, but it's a no go on his end right now.  We did talk about it today and he doesn't have to take the drama class to be in the thespian club, so that's a start. 

Edited by lewber
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Ugh, teen boys can be hard.  My ds was like that as a freshman, too.  We did limit the computer time.  Like radically.  Only 4 hours a week of gaming.  It made a huge difference.(See Reset Your Child's Brain by Victoria Dunkley).

 

ok freesia - so i got the book. which are the most pertinent parts to read? i admit i don't have the time to read it cover to cover. what's the most important parts of the book to look at? i am intrigued by it...

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