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Carol48
Carol48 asks:
Q:

My grandson is 13, disrespectful, school work stinks, grades stink, and disobedient. What to do?

In Topics: Teen issues, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Allyn Anderson
May 2, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Oh, I love this age group! Their bodies are changing; the world is fascinating --- they simply want to explore everything and are convinced they are almost grown up. They are testing all the rules and boundaries just to reassure themselves that the boundaries are still there! However, for us as educators and parents, they can be trying.

Start with defining family values and building respectful behavior. In the "old" days, families often lived on farms with each child having a "real" responsibility. Now, life is so much easier, and many children have few or no responsibilities at home. School might be the only responsibility a child has. With all the video games, TV, and other electronic interruptions, school can be seen as "boring." For instance, let the boy know that education is very important in life; it allows a person more options in life. Plus, research shows that those with more education tend to earn more money on the average than others.

I like to let adolescents know that respect is a two way street. I'll respect them if they are considerate of me as well. Building this behavior usually starts at one or two years of age, so starting with a teenager will take A LOT more patience and quiet talking with him. Try to do things together, such as home projects and even school work. (Many times "stinky" school work is because a child hasn't developed good study skills, reading skills, or a love for learning. Sometimes children have legitimate learning concerns that teenagers often mask by exhibiting defiant behavior.) Let the boy know that he isn't alone in the world; you are there to love and emotionally support him and he does for you as well. Simply put, often teenagers don't feel valued, so they lash out.

Ask the boy to work out a budget project with you. I always like to assign students to be first year teachers---a good helping profession that requires education. In the DC area, beginning teachers earn about $41,000; you'll want to adjust that amount for your local area. Students usually think this is a lot of money, and they can have anything they want! Ask him to make a short list of things that he would like to buy.

Start by having your grandson "complete" tax forms like the ones due April 15th, or simply deduct 25-30% for the upcoming taxes and divide the remainder by 12 months. That is the "real" amount of earnings for him. Students simply don't realize that the government takes their share first.

Have the boy record what he eats during the week. Ask him to plan healthy meals and snacks for himself for only one week. Have him add 5-10 personal or household items (ex. toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, clothes soap, TP) to the list as well. Then, take him to the grocery store to "shop" or have him research the prices on his own at the local grocer's website. Finally, have him take this weekly cost and multiply it by 4.3 to determine the monthly cost. Next, deduct this amount.

Now, have him find an apartment to live in, but remind him that he'll have to figure the transportation costs next, so he'll need to be conservative. Get the idea? What usually happens is students are out of money before they buy the list of things they wanted (ex. cable TV, computers, recreation, medical, clothes). Often students become more conservative with their parents money after this experience and are more willing to compromise.

With mutual respect comes trust and obedience. Be prepared to work alongside the boy with a boatload of patience. It's OK to count to 100 several times a day in the beginning.

Good luck! Ms. A

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Additional Answers (3)

dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
I'm sorry to hear about the challenges you're facing with your teenage grandson. Here are some articles on Education.com that you and his parents might review....

Communicating with Your Adolescent
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Surviving_Your_Adolescents/

Understanding Teen Decision Making
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Good_Decisions_More/

Raising Great Teens: Parent Teen Relationships
http://www.education.com/reference/article/raising-great-teens-parent-relationships/

Do's And Don'ts For Parents With Teenagers
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Dos_Donts_Parents/

Keeping Your Teen Out of Trouble
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Keeping_Teen_Out_Trouble/

How to Find Help for Your Struggling Teen
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/How_Find_Help_for_Your/

Education.com Grandparents Page (collection of articles)
http://www.education.com/topic/grandparents/

You might also have your grandson's parents talk with his teachers about approaches they recommend. Then come back to Education.com to find academic resources that may help to get his grades up (search by particular subjects that he needs to focus on). For instance, if reading is an issue, here's an article about Teenagers and Reading: http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Teenagers_Reading/

All the best to you and your family as you work to improve your grandson's grades and behavior. I hope you find this information helpful.
> 60 days ago

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tracyjean
tracyjean writes:
That is something very close to my heart. We (I do mean "we" as it cripples the entire family) just survived that age. Boys at 12 and 13 seem to be completely out of control. I found trying not to make waves, helping him in spite of himself, letting him make some of his own mistakes, and helping him avoid the bad ones pulled us through. At 14, he doesn't seem like the same person. He's more considerate and seems to see the great benefits in his life from relatively little effort. Hang in there, if you can. The "airheadedness" starts to subside as well.
> 60 days ago

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karelg
karelg writes:
Parenting no doubt is a thankless and very difficult job, and this job gets tough with such teen who have behavior problems, and don't pay heeds to the advices of parents. But the problem in most cases is about motivation. I want to quote here from a site " there's not much you can do as a Parent until your child is properly motivated. No Parenting technique, approach, talk, or change on your part will work until your child is motivated to listen to and follow your directions. Most children don't lack the ability to obey their parents or follow rules, they simply lack the motivation to do so."
So it means that you needs tactics, style and equipped with such parenting tools that can be effective in such cases and this can be done by thoroughly getting parenting ideas on specific teens like yours.
> 60 days ago

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