Topic | Middle School Boy – Pulling my hair out

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  • rhondajennings68
    Participant

    It has been a while since I have posted on here but my 6th grader is causing me to want to pull my hair out.  He is in a co-op one day a week and takes all of his classes there except math, guitar and language arts which I do at home.  I do this because I am a single parent through adoption and MUST work.  I need to work 20 plus hours a week.  Most of the time I work from home.  While my son is highly intelligent, he is also easily distracted and lazy.  I do math and language arts with him three days a week, he is in a co-op one day a week and is supposed to do school work for those subjects on the other four days.  Problem is getting him focused enough to do it.  He tends to give the least effort that he can and do as little as he can. I feel that I am on his case all the time and we are battling all the time.  He gets about two hours outside playing each day, including riding his bicycle and playing with another boy in the neighborhood. He also gets to fish and we try to do field trips a few times a month.  Any suggestions?  He is ADHD but not on medicine. I have tried medicine many times but without good results. I avoid artificial flavorings, color, give health meals, etc.

    jkjanis
    Participant

    First, hats off to you for loving this boy so well – I can tell that you are really doing all that you can to give him the best chance to succeed!  I’m at the end of middle school with my very bright and easily-distracted son, and I can empathize!  There are no easy solutions, but I would share two things with you.  First, there is a good bit of research saying that boys’ brains go through serious changes in the tween years and that they actually slow down and seem “stupider ” for awhile – this isn’t lack of effort on their part, but a real physiologic change that they go through that creates a kind of brain fog.  It is also my experience that the middle school years are the toughest behavior-wise.  This doesn’t mean we stop expecting our boys to learn, but it is okay to relax a little and have faith that they will come out of that fog eventually!  If we bear down too hard and lose connection with them at this stage, it will be very difficult to regain that connection in the teen years.  Keeping relationship must be our priority through the middle school years – if we have their hearts when we enter the teen years, there is no greater victory!

    Second, and to give you practical advice on how to keep that connection but still get your son to DO anything, I highly recommend slowly giving him more control over his education and choosing to be okay with him succeeding or failing . . . Even if it means that he fails a class or even is held back a year in school.  I know that sounds extreme, but you can give your son no greater gift than to allow him to fail while the stakes are relatively low, while you are there to love him through it.  It needs to become HIS job to make sure his work is done – not your job.  The goal of parenting is that our kids learn to manage themselves well, but if we continually step in to make sure they don’t fail, the lessons are never learned – then they reach adulthood and fail and the consequences are devastating.  The key is to allow life to bring the consequences and for you to maintain the role of empathizer – not “I told you so” but “I’m so sorry this happened to you.”  You are in a great position to do this because you already have him in co-op classes where he has expectations from other teachers.  I wish I could share more of how this looks practically, but if you are intrigued, I recommend the parenting resources from Love and Logic.  Their books and teachings have been life-changing for me, and I think they would address your concerns exactly – I can’t recommend them enough.  Hope that helps a little.  Blessings!

    sarah2106
    Participant

    Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young (I believe is their name) is another fantastic resource!

    Boys, and girls, do go throu h this tough brain fog moment (in the book I mention above they talk about it too). My daughter is currently there. It is so crazy because she is generally motivated and a self starter but the last couple months she just can not focus and just seems distracted and lost. I pulled out the book, read about how their brain is being reworked and flooded with hormones, that I started to relax. I also talked with a dear friend who is on the other side of the brain fog with her son and she encouraged me that it will pass.

    So I have adjusted my expectations, slowed down, but still moving forward with grace and lots of time to just talk. I have heard and read from many that there tends to be about a year to a year and a half that many kids hit the “fog” but when it passes they pick right back up so don’t worry. Even in public school I have a friend that teaches 7th grade and she jokes that it is a “waste year” because so many of the kids are in a “fog” and seem to have forgotten how to do everything, but then it passes and they start moving along again.

    sarah2106
    Participant

    I realized that is not very practical help, but just wanted to encourage you that you and your son are not alone. The “brain fog” is a tough time!!

    I know for my daughter having very clear list of what to do, even what to do by exact time has helped her, and simply slowing down where she is really “foggy” and adjusting my expectations right now she does a lot of her school with me, because she is just so “spacey” and it is frustrating her too because she knows she is not herself.

    rhondajennings68
    Participant

    Thanks so much for the wonderful responses! I so appreciate it!

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