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Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 397
Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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My 14yr old son has gone from being an a student to making

Customer Question

My 14yr old son has gone from being an a student to making 2Ds and an F on his first report card as a freshman in high school. He has lied to us repeatedly about homework and what he says teachers have said or done. we need help.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 5 years ago.

Jennifer :

Hello and thanks for using! I'm sorry to hear your son is having such a difficult time adjusting to the demands of high school. May I ask if you've had the opportunity to sit down with his guidance counselor to discuss this issue?? I ask because he/she could be an excellent resource for you on this matter. They may want to call your son in to discuss what's going on. Perhaps the classes he is in are too demanding or there are dynamics at play making it difficult for him to focus in class (seating arrangement, teaching style, etc.). Is he motivated and doing well in his other classes? As far as the lying goes, many students are on homework trackers to assist with organizing assigned tasks and also to increase communication between home and school. Often the tracker requires the student to write the assigned work beside each period with a space for teacher initials. The tracker also has a parent signature piece to ensure parents are aware of assigned work. The tracker is then returned the next morning to whoever is managing this system (school counselor, school psychologist, or preferred teacher). If he continues to have difficulty, I would suggest you call the school to ask if they have a problem solving team (sometimes called a teacher assistance team, pre-referral team, or student study team). This team of educators (usually the psychologist, counselor, teacher, sped teacher, speech path) will meet regularly to discuss "red flag" students and come up with a plan to help them. Sometimes the interventions are provided within the regular education system (e.g., looking into getting a mentor for the student, an after school homework club, tutoring) and sometimes the student should be evaluated to determine if they might qualify for support services (e.g., if they are found to have a learning disability or other handicapping condition). You're on the right track as far as discipline... Removing privileges is an excellent strategy for adolescents. Be sure to also include positive reinforcements for the behaviors you want to see. He could earn rewards (not necessarily tangible) for completed homework, completing a homework tracker, and larger rewards for improving grades. Continue with the home discipline strategies, but definitely get in touch with the school to see how they can assist you since this is a school problem. It's very good that you're catching this early in his high school career. Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information about any of this... Best of luck to you and your son!

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
For Jennifer Thank you for the idea of using the homework tracker. I hate to think we have to treat him like a child but I guess we will have to. We plan on seeing teachers and counselors next week. We thought he may be having petit seizures and took him to see a neurologist. He has an EEG Friday. Since he is no longer allowed to play video games, he has not had one episode. They may have been the cause. Even so he still has not kept up with his responsibilities at school. I wonder if we should go so far and test him for drug use. He rarely ever has friends over. He is such a loner it really worries us.
Expert:  Jennifer replied 5 years ago.
You're treating him like a student who isn't doing his homework and is lying about it. To be honest, it's fine for you to treat him like a child... You're his parent! If his behavior warrants additional monitoring, then you're simply doing your job as a parent by providing it. I'm glad to hear you already have a meeting set with teachers and counselors. That's interesting that you suspected petit seizures... The EEG will be helpful. As far as testing for drug use... Are you seeing behaviors (other than the sudden academic downturn) that might suggest drug use?? Has he always been a "loner" or is this a new development?
Expert:  Jennifer replied 5 years ago.
Thinking more about your meeting... Will your son be in attendance?? It might be good for him to see that there are so many adults who care about his success at school. The D&A discussion may be something to have before that meeting if you want to ask them what their thoughts are on that possibility (not something I'd bring up with him for the first time in the meeting). If you decide to use a homework tracker, have him help develop it. Be clear with him on what the consequences are for when he doesn't complete the tracker and doesn't do his homework -- even better if he helps you come up with those consequences. Ask him to help you come up with the rewards as well. Be creative with these... They don't have to be things you have to buy. Spending a day somewhere, control of the TV remote for the night, a favorite home-cooked dinner... Also explain to him that this is a temporary plan and come up with criteria for what he needs to do to work his way away from needing this tracker. He'll have more "buy in" and be more motivated to follow along if he's involved in the process and sees an end to it.