Communicate ‘big picture’ strategy to your child
DEAR MARIANN: “How do I motivate my 12-year-old to study when she always seems bored in school and lacks interest in her classes?
Mariann’s Response: When I read your question, immediately I think of depression, especially since those volatile teenage years are waiting with abounding hormonal changes and physical alterations. As mentioned in previous columns, depression has no age limits. Sadly I have heard of assessments for depression being used on children as young as four. Has your daughter visited her pediatrician recently to determine if depression could be a factor in her lax classroom attitude?
Another possibility is that she might be “bored” from not being challenged by her classes and needing a higher level of academic placement. Making an appointment with her school counselor might be a first step toward determining if she would benefit from assignment into “advanced placement” classes or if there are alternative subjects that she could take more compatible to her personality and future goals.
Does she have a dislike of one or some of her teachers? Are there other options for instructors who might motivate her interest in those subjects?
The Khan Academy, an online teaching method for hundreds of topics is revolutionizing how students are learning in many American classrooms. The service is free and could possibly be a secondary source of more modern instructive methods that could inspire your daughter.
And finally, my question to you as a parent, what level of involvement do you have with her about the future and the career path she envisions for herself? My cliché of “only being able to see as far forward as the hood of the car” is seemingly a challenge for many youth. What is almost immediately in front of them is the only thing they can see presently, versus looking out on the horizon and realizing that other options are just ahead. As her parent, teaching a “big picture strategy” is essential, versus not just “living for the moment.”
Researching local options and taking her to professional venues where she can shadow someone who does what she might want to pursue for a career would be helpful.
After completing both my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I had interest in pursuing nursing as a vocation. Even though I had successfully completed college twice, due to my lack of a sufficient number of chemistry classes while attending Delaware Hayes, I would have been required to have taken several high school chemistry classes prior to ever pursuing pre-nursing studies. Needless to say, I am a counselor versus working in a hospital. Seemingly the pressure of “knowing what you want to do with your life” is even more accentuated today in academia.
My last suggestion is to have a daily scheduled “check-in” time during the school week for hearing about the just-concluded school day and both the successes and the challenges she encountered.
It seems that adolescents are ultimate masters of the “one word answer” when responding to an adult’s question. When hearing “fine” as her curt answer to your question, especially about her day, please dig deeper, start a dialogue, be nosy. At first your daughter may resent your intrusiveness, but with the onslaught of text messaging, verbal communication skills are now compromised especially among our youth.
Having the ability for in-depth conversation and her knowledge that she has a parent who truly cares, will be valuable life tools for her future success.
Mariann Main is a licensed counselor and a Delaware native. Her column appears weekly on Saturdays. To submit a question and have Mariann answer it anonymously, visit delgazette.com/life-questions-with-local-answers or send mail to the Delaware Gazette office, 40 N. Sandusky St., suite 203, Delaware, OH 43015.