Parenting --Teens/My teen has no social life or ambition
My son is 15 and a half. He looks very young for his age and puberty has started very late. I'm worried sick as he's about to start his final year at school and has absolutely no interest in doing well or his best. He just wants to leave school and has no interest in college or even getting a job. While all I want is for him to be happy, I'm starting to get very worried he's going to be a bum. He has a small group of friends but they all seem to have the same attitude which isn't helping. He's very quiet, even with family members which comes across as rude sometimes. I just need to know how to inspire him, or at least get him to at least have some interest in something other than his xbox. He's a happy boy at home but his famous quote is 'I don't care'. His older brother is the complete opposite and I try not to compare them but at 15 he was out with friends, seeing girls and enjoying life. All I want is for him to start living a bit, not getting up at lunchtime ( in the holidays) and then straight on his xbox. I see other kids his age out and about and talking about what they want to do when they leave school and its worries me sick. I try to build his confidence and encourage him to take an interest but he's very hard to get through to. This has gone on the last few years but now he's approaching his final year at school I'm starting to get so worried that I'm running out of time because I think once he's left school the situation will get worse! It's all I can think about, any advice would be much appreciated!
I just finished answering a question from Susan about her 15 year old grandson who is also not achieving to his potential . Please look it up and read the part where I describe under-achievers and why the are behaving that way. I will share the conclusion of a long piece here. Please go and read the other answer to get why I come to this conclusion, which is under-achievers are very motivated to under-achieve so motivation does not work with them. They are acting off of feelings of very low self-worth and self-esteem so you are on the right track by doing what you can to build his self confidence.
Let me explore some things that you do not talk about but which I would want to know if I was working with him. Does his older brother nurture him or does he carry one like "how come you can't be like me?" If it is the latter, and especially if there is not father figure around (you didn't say either way), I would try to enlist the older brother to become the nurturing big brother, hanging out with the younger one and including him in activities, especially ones that they can do together, like go to the zoo or an event like a gaming convention. If that is not a possibility, then if there is a father figure in his life, getting that person to really hand out with your son for long periods of time. I will give you a link below to my website's blog. Please read the article about the Power of Hanging Out. If there is no such person, they finding a "big brother" from the Big Brother and Sisters Program would be a good idea.
It might be good to find a good counselor or therapist that regularly works with teens with low self-confidence and low self-esteem.
You say that he is totally isolating himself and does not have interest in seeing girls. Could that be because he has same sex feelings and doesn't feel that with he can express those feelings with an older brother who is dating woman in the same house. I do not have any evidence to back up what I just asked. It is something that is on my checklist when presented with these behaviors. I probably would not ask that question outright because no matter how lovingly you asked it, it is going to be taken by him as more of that comparing him to his older "Mr. Right" brother. I would just stay aware of any indications that might give you a clue. If you want more on this subject, put in another question. I do not want to dwell on it. It is just a side thought at this point.
Please read that blog on hanging out. It is something that if you do not do it now, you need to start doing it. It is the only way that you are every going to get to hear his true feelings. Knowing them will better guide you on how to assist him.
A final thought, I have a principle, the environment always wins. Although you can't ban him from seeing hanging out with those other kids, you can do what you can to find him more positive environments to hand out in. That is why I thought of the big brother idea. Have you attempted to enlist the high school in working with him. The squeaky wheel gets the most grease. If you squeak a lot you just might get them to find a teacher he has had rapport with who would make him a special mentorship project.
I hope this all helped. You can always reply with follow up questions if you want or need to. If you go to my website, http://TheParentsCoach.com
There are a bunch of useful parenting tips on my blog. There is also a parents resource page with recommended books. My favorite one, which is required reading for all my clients, is "Parent As Coach." It is low price, a quick read, and it transforms even pretty good parent/son relationships. You absolutely need to buy and read this book. If you click on the title it will take you right to the Amazon.com page to order it. But you already know this. I hope you have read the "Parent as Coach" book by now.
Jason Wittman, MPS