I’m Waving The White Flag, I Surrender

I'm Waving The White Flag, I Surrender

I have written a lot about the issues the wife and I have been having with our, now 14-year-old son’s behavior and school grades issues. We had been trying to incentivize him to do better in school, to improve his grades, to do the work and hand it in, by basically, holding his video game time hostage.

Initially, if he brought home D’s and F’s, no game time until those grades were restored to all C’s and above. But after almost five months of no video games, we switched it up with a grade based game time reward, A through C grades earned time, D & F grades subtracted time. Initially, this seemed to be working, one F immediately turned into a B, but by the end of the week, his grades had slumped again.

And the slump in grades was caused by missing assignments, he either did not do the work or didn’t hand it in, I suspect it’s the former. The two F grades he currently has is because, from the start of the semester, he received several zero scores for not doing the work. We have requested that he bring the work home, as he gets an extra 24 hours as mandated in his IEP, to get it completed and handed in.

The standard response from him when we ask where the work is; he says, “I forgot”, which is his standard response for everything, like chores we ask him to do, “oh, I forgot” is his response. We know there’s nothing wrong with his memory, he never forgets about anything he likes or benefits him.

He claims the reason his grades are so bad is that we put too much pressure on him, or that societal pressures stop him from asking for help with his school work. And my personal favorite excuse, “Don’t you know I am autistic?”, which just indicates how smart he is, to try to use his diagnosis as a reason for his failings, and an extension of that is his claim of himself being “not as smart as we think he is”.

We can discount the idea that he isn’t as smart as we think he is; every teacher from 5th through 9th grades has said that he is very smart but lacks motivation. And, that getting him motivated is near impossible unless a subject interests him, he will put in the minimal amount of effort possible.

We try to talk to him, to motivate him, and he just stands there with a look of disgust on his face, because we continue trying to push him to be better than he allows himself to be. He says he wants to study video game development at Full Sail University, but won’t put in the effort to get the grades he’ll need to get there, Full Sail is not a local Kansas college that accepts just anyone with a lowly high school diploma.

So, I have come to the realization that trying to motivate him is a waste of my time and stress quota. So I have told him, he can play all the video games he wants, and won’t say a word about his school grades until the end of the school year. Using his own words, if we leave him alone, he will do better in school. I know this is not true, but I am calling his bluff. He’s 14 years old, he can make his own life decisions.

Trying to force the issue isn’t working, I’ll let him have his way and see if anything changes. he needs to come to the realization that he is only hurting himself, I cannot help him unless he wants to be helped.

I hope that I am wrong and leaving him alone for 3 months will yield results, and we’ll see his grades improve. I don’t know if we are doing the right thing, but trying to motivate him with a reward system has made zero difference, the more we push, the more he rebels and his grades fall through the floor.

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