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proexpert37, Educator/Life Coach
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 1374
Experience:  Teacher 20+ years, Parent, Expert Mentor
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My husband and I need advice as to how to deal with our 15

Customer Question

My husband and I need advice as to how to deal with our 15 year old daughters "lack of effort" when it comes to school. I recently attended parent/teacher conferences, and with the exception of her choir teacher, was told by every teacher that she is a very bright, well behaved and capable child who is doing "fine, but could do much better". When we got home from conferences we visited with our daughter and told her what her teachers had said hoping that would motivate her to put more time into her studies. Quite the opposite has happended. In checking her grades today she currently has an F, two D's, a C, a B and an A (in choir). This is so unlike the child we knew in elementary and middle school. She was always a very good student and praised by her teachers. This is not a new issue, however, it began almost immediately this past fall when she began high school. We've tried everything we can think of including giving her the responsibility to "take care of it" on her own to taking away priviledges to threatening to ground her and take everything away (phone, car, computer, hanging out with friends, etc.) At times she'll bring the grades up for a time only to let them drop again. The thing that frustrates us the most is that she'll neglect to turn homework in or simply turn in half completed work.

It just so happens that algebra is her least favorite subject, and we just so happen to have a neighbor who is a math professor at our local college who has graciously offered to help her out or look over her work any time she wishes. We've forced our daughter to do so a half dozen times, but she makes such a big production over it every time, saying that she'd rather figure it out on her own, refusing to go and that we think she is "stupid". Quite the opposite, we know she is not and tell her that we just want her to do the best that she can do and do work that she can be proud of. We've also tried to impress upon her the importance of doing well now so that her high school transcript won't detour any plans she may have for college (which she intends to do).

After seeing these most recent grades we are at our wits end and plan to talk with her this evening and inform her that she will be meeting with our neighbor for algebra help one to two times a week. We plan to ground her for this weekend or the entire week (haven't decided yet) and also limit the use of her cell phone and computer to necessity only. Our question to you is this the proper or most effective action at this time?

I might also add that other than the "normal" teen pressures our daughter is well liked with many friends and involved in extra-curricular activities (although no so many that she doesn't have the time or energy to keep up with her studies). I also have not noticed any other outside pressures that may be adding to her situation.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  proexpert37 replied 6 years ago.

Hello and thank you for using Just Answer. I am sorry to hear about the problems that you are experiencing with your daughter. Her change in academic progress from middle school to high school is completely normal and experienced by many teen-agers both male and female. Grades and studying are simply not important. The social scene is what matters to her now more than anything. You are definitely not in the wrong by enforcing the consequences that you have already mandated. She does need the math tutor whether she likes it or not. Does she have a great deal of extra time? If so, how is it being utilized? Because of her poor grades, you must dictate how that time should be utilized for her. When she is at home, have her give the cell phone to you. If she is not doing research on the computer, do not allow her to use it. Limit her time with friends. She should be just going to school and then back home. She almost needs to feel like she is in jail. She should be spending her time studying and trying to earn back her cell phone usage, spending time with friends, going on the computer etc. When she starts putting forth the effort in her schooling and you see a change in her grades, REALLY praise her. On the other hand, maybe there are some deeper rooted problems that she is not willing to discuss with you. You can just casually ask her if anything is bothering her. Maybe she feels the pressures of teen-age drug and alcohol usage or having sex and does not know which way to turn but still wants to fit in with the "right" crowd. There would be nothing wrong with having her speak to a counselor or psychologist so that she can express her feelings to a neutral source. Even if you attend church, there are counselors who can assist your daughter. What might help or shed some light on the situation is that if you ask your daughter to write a letter to you about how she feels about her life: school, family, friends, future, etc. She may express some things in the letter that you are not aware of.


Hope this helps. If you need more advice, just ask. Have a great day!!!