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Bonnie, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  and pediatric nurse practitioner with 30 years of experience counseling parents.
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My son is 17 and has always been considered intelligent. In

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My son is 17 and has always been considered intelligent. In elementary school through 6th grade he got good grades. Then things started declining. Our relationship with him deteriorated as it was all about getting him to do things he wasn't doing.. being on time for school, homework, caring about life. This year, his junior year, he is coming out of his "dark period." He has been happier, more social, more friends, got a girlfriend and has been around the family more. But he has four D's in his major subjects. We just cannot get him to put in any effort. I have taken away his laptop and iPod touch; he didn't have them for 4 months, he doesn't care. I don't want to back to the fighting, the school gives him lots of extra support and it just is not working, how can I possibly get him to change???
Hello and thank you for consulting JA/Pearl,
I am so glad he came out of the "dark period" but sorry about these grades. It is possible that struggling at school is what caused his avoidant behavior. Now he is not avoiding but the school struggles are still there.

He should be evaluated for ADHD, learning disability or gifted and talented. It he is attending a public school you can ask them to evaluate him through the IEP process. If he is not suffering from either of these condition, then, see if you can remove yourself from being the disciplinarian and put the onus on the school (who is giving him lots of help). His grade are the consequence of his lack fo effort and his desire to graduate and go on to school should become the motivator. If he does not have these desires, there is not much you can do...your hands are tied to help. Better to find out why he has developed an "I don't care" attitude.

So, It may be helpful to have him see a therapist for a few sessions to get some guidance regarding goals and ways to achieve the goals. He may still be depressed...and is expressing this uncomfortable emotion by lack or effort....or....something else....which can be discovered through a face-to-face counseling session. If he refuses, you can also get guidance at school to intervene.

At 17 years of age, I usually try to help parent "back off" and get others involved to preserve the parent -child relationship. I know that is what you want too.

warm regards....

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you Bonnie for your response.

I should have noted that he was diagnosed with ADD (no H for him) and he has been receiving help at school. Since 9th grade he has been in a special study hall that helps with organization. This year, he was fully evaluated for special needs and they are minimal centered around organization. He is now in a study hall that mirco manages his daily work, breaks down large projects and checks his daily accomplishments. It does no good, he lies about work he has done just to get away without doing it. It comes across as hugely lazy and all he can say is that school is boring. That is why he doesn't do any work; he is bored. I don't think guidance at school and provide any reasonable help with his state of mind, they suggest seeking a therapist. We had him a therapist when he was 11-12 and he refused to go back as it was "a waste of time, all they did was play games."


I appreciate your affirmation to preserve parent-child relationships. I just don't know how to help him any more. He just couldn't care any less about his schooling.


I was ready your past posts about this. I think you will need to trust that all will come out okay in the end. If he is bright (but underachieving), he will find his niche. School probably is boring. I highly recommend that you try the ADD medication. It can make a night-and-day difference. If your tried something and it did not work, keep trying...there are so many new meds now.
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