How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dr. Mark Your Own Question
Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Dr. Mark is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My son is turning 15 in Feb. He has a verry negative

This answer was rated:

My son is turning 15 in Feb. He has a verry negative approach to highschool. In primary school he was the headboy and his avv was 92%. He loved shcool. Last year i picked up on his negativity, but thought it was just difficult to adjust from primary(120 kids) to High school(600 kids). How could we help him?

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

It sounds as if your son is having a tough go of it. From the way you are trying to encourage him and warn him of the dangers of failing, it seems you think that the problem is that he is just not putting in the effort. But kids don't usually just stop putting in effort for NO reason. Something may have derailed him. You indicated a change in schools and school size. Do you think that may have had a deleterious effect on him? In what way?

Has his social situation changed? In changing schools did he have to start making new friends? Has that been hard for him?

Another change may be sexual maturing, puberty. Has he become interested in girls?

Are there other difficulties he is facing that may be affecting his grades?

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Let's go forward from the answers to these questions.

I see you are offline at this time. I may be away from the computer before you respond. If so, would tomorrow (US time) be okay for me to respond?

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

In Primary school he was number one in leadership end accademic. Now in high school he's not number one.

Most of his friends are in the same school.

Not crazy abouts girls yet. He doesnt have a girlfriend at the moment.

Only other changes: last year his oldest brother went to varsity, and this year his 2nd brother.

He loved playing rugby in primary school, now he's negative abouth that too.

Any times fine.

That was very helpful. I know you would like an answer right away but I very much want to have a good understanding of your son specifically and his situation and so I have a few more questions that would help.

You say he's not number one. But is he somewhere in the middle or above? My question is, how much of this is that now he's in a bigger school with a lot more kids at least as bright as him and he is no longer a star?

How do you as parents feel about him not being at the top or real close to the top in the class?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
He is top 6 in his grade. We always encourage our children, but never expect more from them than what they are capable of.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

First, let me say you are clearly a very caring parent and your son is very fortunate that you are this sensitive to your children's feelings. And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about.

Your son is somewhere in that gray area between being fine and going about his early adolescence easily and being troubled and needing professional help. He's not quite in either camp and that makes it very difficult not only to assess the best course of action but to take coherent and useful action.

Do you see what I'm referring to here? I think this is your dilemma actually and I see it as well. He's still doing well in school but there is an air of negativity and lack of enthusiasm in him at the same time. So he's not doing badly and therefore clearly needs intervention and he's not doing great emotionally. This is what I mean that he's fortunate you're there for him because you are noticing this.

I can tell you that my policy with kids when it's an emotional gray area like this is to not push for professional intervention right away. Your son is now old enough that I think you can talk to him openly to some extent about what you're noticing--as long as you're not too strong in your language and not too emphatic. Teens have a hard time with that if they're going through things emotionally. But if you approach it in a straightforward way and then ask him if he would like to talk with a psychotherapist, that would be the only reason at this time to seek help. BUT you must keep a very watchful eye, even as you keep a positive attitude. You want to not let the grades go down much more and his attitude to become really anti-social before you would take a more active role in encouraging him to speak with a professional. Okay?

I'd like to also give you a great resource for working with your teen. Here is a book that is excellent. How to Talk so Teens Will Listen and Listen so Teens Will Talk by Faber and Mazlish. Here's the Amazon web page for it:

These two authors are students of Chaim Ginott. He was a wonderful psychologist in the 1960s and 1970s. He's not permissive, he communicated! You might want to go to his book for non-therapists: Between Parent and Teenager. It's old, but still relevant. Here's the Amazon page:

Okay, so keep monitoring his situation and talk with him. I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button. Feel free to continue the discussion; my goal is to get you the best answers possible. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you