I really hope you can help with my teenage son. He has no motivation and no interest in studying for his exams. I know he can achieve good results but he has to try harder. His academic performance is declining.
Also, last year he was diagnosed with slight dyslexia and ADHD. I know he is capable and can achieve anything once he puts he mind to it.
Possible reasons for lack of trying
You say your son starts studying but then gives up after 10 minutes. There could be a few reasons for this:
- He might not know where to start. When students sit down to study it’s important that they have a plan — for that day AND for their exam preparation as a whole (i.e. a timetable accounting for their time leading up to their exams). This means that when they sit down to study they know what topics they’re going to study during that study session, which makes studying a lot easier to get stuck into.
He might not know how to study. I obviously don’t know what your son knows and what he doesn’t, but perhaps now that school is getting a bit more serious, he might not know what he needs to do when he sits down to study? If he doesn’t know what to do, he could start by taking our Learning Styles Quiz to figure out what his predominant Learning Style is (link here).
Once he has taken the quiz, he will be given some study method suggestions, which might be particularly important for your son given his dyslexia and ADHD. In other words, I think because of these diagnoses, figuring out HOW to study in a way that works for your son will be particularly key for him. For instance, your son might find that watching educational videos help him to understand things a lot more than reading does. This is the type of thing he needs to figure out.
Motivation: It sounds like your son is unmotivated, despite having some goals about the future. Motivation can strike any student any time. I’m sure you have already, but I wonder if you could have a chat with him about why he’s not trying as hard as he used to? Is it because of the diagnosis of his Dyslexia and ADHD? Has this put a dampener on things for him?
Hopefully you can use his desire to go to university as a ‘carrot’ for helping him to find his motivation again. After all, he must understand that if he wants to go to university he will have to get back on track with his study. I would also remind him (nicely) that school is only for a few years more, and then he can go off and do something he really wants to do at university. School is hard sometimes, but it isn’t forever. I think this is an important message for teens, especially when they’re feeling unmotivated.
To help get your son back on track and into a rhythm of studying, you might like to try using incentives if you haven’t already. Incentives can be a really powerful way of helping teens to get motivated and to get used to a study regime (in other words, building good habits).
You could try using a combination of short term incentives on a daily or weekly basis (for example, if you do X number of hours study this week you can do Y this weekend), AND longer term incentives (for example, a reward of some kind that he will receive after exams).
It’s important to reward incentives based on the effort put in, and not the grades your son gets. The important thing is that he starts trying again, and not as much exactly what grades he ends up getting.
Dyslexia and ADHD
We don’t have qualifications or expertise when it comes to working with children with learning difficulties such as these, but I have known kids to have Dyslexia and ADHD, and I have seen how it can affect their motivation. I hope I’m not speaking out of line, but it might be that your son is feeling a bit down and disheartened by these diagnoses, and that he needs some time to figure out how to do well at school despite these obstacles, which is perfectly understandable.
I would hope that with time, and thinking about how he can study in a way that works for him, he will find his motivation again. He might just be going through a period of adjustment.
Use his interests
It’s great that your son enjoys science, because at least that’s one part of school that he should still be finding enjoyment in. I would try to encourage his enthusiasm with science. If he’s not so keen on other subjects, then I would suggest to him that when he’s studying, he alternates studying for his science subjects with the subjects he enjoys less.
For instance, if he doesn’t like math, he could schedule an hour of math study followed by an hour of science, so that he has something to ‘look forward to’ after getting through the subjects he doesn’t like as much.