Parenting Catch-all

We are having some serious issues with one of our kids. He just started college and isn't doing well. He got into a habit during COVID while attending remote classes that has continued. He basically does no homework all semester and then tries to get everything done at the last minute. When we ask him how things are he says they're fine and he's caught up. But then he's not. At midterm he had two As and two Fs but ended with two Ds and two Fs. We can't get him to work on anything unless we force him to do it. He's absolutely smart enough. He tends to do very well on tests.
He has scholarships through our employee program (I work a the college) and needs to maintain a certain GPA. He's in danger of losing them if he doesn't do really well in the spring.

My wife thinks it's an organization issue but I am sure it's more than that. He spends all of his free time playing games. I don't mind him playing, I mean I did the same. His older brother does the same (though he is maintaining a 3.4 GPA through his junior year and has worked hard to get that). We've tried working with him on setting up a schedule (his freshman year of HS he was very diligent about his schedule) but it's not working. We also talked about how failing a class wasn't that big of a deal so we blew off one of his classes. He did work on the others but I'm not sure exactly what happened. Especially in his psych class where he had an A at midterm.

I know there are lots of reasons for procrastination, including fear of failure. He's always been one who fears failure but now he's failing hard and it's serious. He can attend the college I work for free of tuition but not if he doesn't get his grades up. He is on the autism spectrum but it's more like Asperger's. He has never had an issue with understanding, just getting the work done.

That sounds pretty tough. College can be a big jump for a lot of people in the sense that just cramming for the exam at the last minute is no longer enough to do well and because all of the sudden you're a lot farther from being the smartest person in the room. I learned both of those from experience.

I know this can be expensive and hard to access but is some kind of professional counseling a possibility? It's not just about bringing a professional but also having a third-party who the kid will not perceive as passing judgment on a possible failure. It can also be a bit more of a wake up call to bring an outsider to intervene rather than mom and dad busting my balls again. This also very much seems like a mental health issue although I'm obviously just going from what you are saying (but again, I can definitely relate from experience).

Short of that, what was it like to try and set up a schedule with him? A couple of things that may help a little bit are taking better care of exercise, sleep, and diet, rather than targeting the studying. Try to get a work out that will actually get your heart rate up and then go do some studying right after. And try to stick to a sleeping schedule as much as possible, no matter what it is.

The other thing that jumps out (and again, I'm obviously just going by your writeup) is that you force him to do work. I would not do that anymore. It associates studying with punishment. And it doesn't seem to have worked. I hope you can figure something out, though. Good luck!

Pink Stripes wrote:

That sounds pretty tough. College can be a big jump for a lot of people in the sense that just cramming for the exam at the last minute is no longer enough to do well and because all of the sudden you're a lot farther from being the smartest person in the room. I learned both of those from experience.

Same. All of that. I still muddled through a couple years, even with a fraternity, sports season tickets, a serious girlfriend, and a crap ton of video games eating my free time. It took a devastating breakup and subsequent spiral to actually get me to fail a class and put my scholarship in jeopardy eventually.

I wish I had advice. High school was a joke for me. Aside from a few English research papers I had 0 homework, got everything done at school and never developed study habits worth a damn. College was much more difficult. Hoping my wife can help our kids develop better habits than me.

Good luck.

Would recommend the Healthy Gamer channel on YouTube.

Speaks directly to young adults, how brains work and these exact topics of school, grades, motivation, interest, ADHD, medication, therapy, etc.

Pink Stripes wrote:

That sounds pretty tough. College can be a big jump for a lot of people in the sense that just cramming for the exam at the last minute is no longer enough to do well and because all of the sudden you're a lot farther from being the smartest person in the room. I learned both of those from experience.

I know this can be expensive and hard to access but is some kind of professional counseling a possibility? It's not just about bringing a professional but also having a third-party who the kid will not perceive as passing judgment on a possible failure. It can also be a bit more of a wake up call to bring an outsider to intervene rather than mom and dad busting my balls again. This also very much seems like a mental health issue although I'm obviously just going from what you are saying (but again, I can definitely relate from experience).

Short of that, what was it like to try and set up a schedule with him? A couple of things that may help a little bit are taking better care of exercise, sleep, and diet, rather than targeting the studying. Try to get a work out that will actually get your heart rate up and then go do some studying right after. And try to stick to a sleeping schedule as much as possible, no matter what it is.

The other thing that jumps out (and again, I'm obviously just going by your writeup) is that you force him to do work. I would not do that anymore. It associates studying with punishment. And it doesn't seem to have worked. I hope you can figure something out, though. Good luck!

I wish he was only cramming for the exam at the last minute. He's cramming everything. All assignments and the final tests and final projects.

Professional counseling is definitely a possibility. He used to have counseling but it sort of stopped at high school. It is something we are looking into. Unfortunately, the counselor he had only does kids so we would need a new one. Procrastination has always been a mental health issue for him, I think. He has a lot of trouble starting things, especially when it's not concrete. I think there's more abstract thinking in college and that has probably made things worse.

Interesting take on forcing him to do work and that being associated with punishment. You may be right I just don't know how to get past that. I am sure we need to address some underlying issues more than we need to force him to do his work but I worry that it will be too late.

Stele wrote:
Pink Stripes wrote:

That sounds pretty tough. College can be a big jump for a lot of people in the sense that just cramming for the exam at the last minute is no longer enough to do well and because all of the sudden you're a lot farther from being the smartest person in the room. I learned both of those from experience.

Same. All of that. I still muddled through a couple years, even with a fraternity, sports season tickets, a serious girlfriend, and a crap ton of video games eating my free time. It took a devastating breakup and subsequent spiral to actually get me to fail a class and put my scholarship in jeopardy eventually.

I wish I had advice. High school was a joke for me. Aside from a few English research papers I had 0 homework, got everything done at school and never developed study habits worth a damn. College was much more difficult. Hoping my wife can help our kids develop better habits than me.

Good luck.

My wife always had better study habits than I did. I was very much a procrastinator with poor study habits. Unfortunately I don't think she encourages those as much as she forces them.

Top_Shelf wrote:

Would recommend the Healthy Gamer channel on YouTube.

Speaks directly to young adults, how brains work and these exact topics of school, grades, motivation, interest, ADHD, medication, therapy, etc.

I looked at this channel and it looks very interesting. I just started listening to an episode about restricting video games as a parent. It's interesting because one of my reactions to the grades is restricting his gaming time significantly if not completely. I don't want to but at the same time we need to do something. In it he talks about a letter he got about someone who had a similar arc as my son (started gaming excessively during the pandemic). Anyway, I just started listening and will check out the channel more. Thank you.

One thing I am considering is having him take off next semester to help him figure things out. I'm not sure it will be productive for him to jump back in in a few weeks without addressing what's going on with him.

Does he think there is a problem? Based on the “not a big deal to fail a class so I intentionally failed it” it is not clear he does?

The class failure was actually our (the parents) idea. He was stressed about this particular class and so far behind. Ever since he's been a kid he has had issues with wanting to do everything perfect (or not at all). We were hoping to show him that it's not the end of the world to fail. We also didn't think he could get everything done in time and this particular class really built on all the things you did as the semester went along. So we talked with him about failing this one class and we decided with him to spend his time and energy on the other classes.

We have decided to wait until after Christmas to talk with him. I don't think he's looked at his grades yet. I want to follow some of the advice in the HappyGamerGG video I saw and ask him how he feels, what he wants to do, and explore his options. Then, based on that, try to help him move forward. I want my wife to watch the video and get on board with letting him make the decisions. She seems pretty set on him doing certain things and set on forcing success on him somehow. I don't think that will work. I want to present him options and let him choose. I do think he could use a semester off to work on himself but also want him to make that decision. My wife is still more in the punish and schedule mindset so we need to talk about if that's the best thing for him or if there is another way (which I think there definitely is).

I think your approach sounds right. I think he is an adult now and you can’t treat a 19 year old the same way you treat a 12 year old, unless you want them to act like a 12 year old…. I hope your wife is willing to watch the videos and come around!

I would agree it's important to help with a treat them like an adult approach and possibly the semester off. It reminds me of challenges around executive dysfunction & undiagnosed ADHD (not wanting to armchair diagnose just sharing)

It's going to be a challenge and frustrating unfortunately but helping them find their solution is paramount for future life management.

I always can do things until I HAVE to do things or being told to do them it is like a switch turns in my brain. I failed out one semester, took one off, came back with a new focus then finally moved to another school to manage my working life & night school balance in the end.

My biggest regret was not using the professor office hour help and just self struggling (and being undiagnosed) to learn things. I knew the material with ease but getting a schedule, work done, & procrastinating was my issue. Papers last minute, last moment cramming, sometimes missing assignments, etc.

Best of luck and yeah I hope you and your wife can help get your son to success!

The 5 and 3 year old insisted on hugging each other good night tonight. My heart is full.

Stele wrote:

The 5 and 3 year old insisted on hugging each other good night tonight. My heart is full.

Next step is an overhead release belly to belly suplex

mudbunny wrote:
Stele wrote:

The 5 and 3 year old insisted on hugging each other good night tonight. My heart is full.

Next step is an overhead release belly to belly suplex

My 2.5 did a belly to back suplex with my 5 year old last night. She ran up to her older sister, giggling, gave her a big happy hug, they both laughed, and then she just lay down backwards and pulled the other over. Great play.

WWE needs more giggling is what I got out of this

dejanzie wrote:

WWE needs more giggling is what I got out of this :lol:

Ask and you shall receive.

(Context for this clip. The last name of the person he is referring to is Uso)

DS has to read a non-fic book for class and he chose one on D-Day so it's been 200 questions since picking it up and I am loving it.

Got the old World at War full set on DVD from eBay last week so he can get some legit perspective from the people who were actually part of the events, in their own words.

Now I just have to find an old console that will play DVDs and hook it up to the family room TV.

Band of Brothers, too!

Sort of related my 7th grader is reading a more direct non-fiction book on the Holocaust so I will finally let him read Maus.

Mixolyde wrote:

Band of Brothers, too!

Well, he's 5th grade, so we're not doing BoB or Saving Private Ryan yet.

Tora! Tora! Tora! on the other hand...

I could not have been too many years beyond fifth grade when Schindler’s List played on TV, no commercials. Dunno which network but IIRC Ford sponsored it. Worth it—watching it at that age, I mean; I can’t speculate whether it was worth it to Ford.

Maybe also consider Life is Beautiful…

Top_Shelf wrote:

Well, he's 5th grade, so we're not doing BoB or Saving Private Ryan yet.

Tora! Tora! Tora! on the other hand...

The Longest Day is a good one for that age.

Yeah, it's a hard decision on when to show things to kids.

The Guns of Navarone is another good one.

Bit of a question that's been on my mind that I'd appreciate insight from others:

My 20yo son gets very angry when he loses in video games. He is currently playing Mortal Kombat 1, but it's been an issue in FIFA and Rocket League too (he's playing online).

He's done it for several years now, and whilst his anger doesn't manifest in any other situation (e.g. with people or any other situation I've witnessed) furniture and xbox controllers get the sh*t punched out of them as a matter of course. The rage seems to be directly towards himself being worthless rather than his opponents, and it's fairly unpleasant to be around.

I've suggested playing different games that don't make him angry, but he claims that there's a cathartic element to it that helps him mentally.

Has anyone else experienced this? Either themselves or with their kids? Does it stop? I have been expecting him to "grow out of it" for a while. I figure someone else must have hit this

I'm loath to go for a nuclear option and start disconnecting the internet when he does it or anything like that, and he's an adult now, and won't go to the shrink for something he doesn't think is a problem (not that there's a lot of mental health support available on the NHS these days).

We experienced this with our youngest son, now 19. His anger/rage at dying/losing was very concerning. Along with this was his tendency to stay up too late gaming on a school night. At one point I took away his admin privileges and forced his PC to auto-log out at 11pm and made him turn in his Switch. We did have him work with a counselor for a few months, as we were concerned that he seemed depressed and a little rudderless in his life, a stark contrast to his older brother.

He did seem to grow out of it after high school and had to be respectful of his roommate at his college dorm. I think the rigor of university made him discipline himself. He seems happy in his major and is getting good grades. He was home over the holidays and there did not seem to be any excessive yelling late at night. Just some loud talking/laughing on Discord, which he'd tone down when we asked. He appears to be in good spirits these days.

Hope this helps.

Yeah that's pretty much always been me.

Toned it down a lot. More patience for life in general since I had kids. Also less time for the competitive stuff. I don't usually get mad at me vs the AI anymore. If I really struggle and am not having fun I just turn down the difficulty. But with PVP you can't. Mostly I avoid that mode.

Sometimes Rocket League still gets me... and then I know it's time for a break. Not worth breaking a $70 controller.

I'm the same as Stele; I've always been a rager. Over time, I've got better at being able to identify the sort of games that are likely to trigger me and avoid them. Or at least to step away at the first sign of waning patience.

Honestly, as long as he's not destroying property or taking it out on other people, I don't think it should be too concerning. But definitely keep talking about it and calmly encouraging him to take breaks when he feels himself getting agitated.

DudleySmith wrote:

it's fairly unpleasant to be around.

This right here? Whether or not the outbursts are a healthy catharsis or a sign of emotional problems, the effect they're having on you is real. If he needs help then he needs help. If he doesn't, you would not be out of line to ask him to tone it down for your sake.

JLS wrote:

His anger/rage at dying/losing was very concerning.

Let's not pretend this is new or limited to video games. Plenty of kids and parents and sometimes professional athletes rage out at referees, too...

Anyway, since I was a kid and heard some version of the story, I have always tried to learn from young, mad Dwight Eisenhower (in case non-Americans here, that's the World War II Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and later a President of the United States):

Eisenhower’s mother came into his room and sat down in the rocking chair beside his bed. She rocked silently for awhile, and then began to talk to young Dwight, telling him she was concerned about his anger, and that of all her boys, he had the most to learn about getting his temper under control. But striving to do so and gaining self-mastery, Mrs. Eisenhower continued, was vital. “He that conquereth his own soul is greater than he who taketh a city,” she told her son, paraphrasing the Bible. Then, Ike remembered, she offered him a piece of life-changing advice:
“Hating was a futile sort of thing, she said, because hating anyone or anything meant that there was little to be gained. The person who had incurred my displeasure probably didn’t care, possibly didn’t even know, and the only person injured was myself.”

https://www.artofmanliness.com/caree...

Basically the version I heard was that the most powerful person is the one who can control their own anger. So I have always tried to control mine. Often it works, sometimes it doesn't.

One thing that surprised me as a grown-up, and I realized this only very recently, was how right Ursula K LeGuin was about the power one holds in knowing the true name of a thing.

In my less fantastical lived experience, I've found naming my emotions--and by naming I mean literally saying their names out loud, as in, "I am feeling angry right now"--quickly and significantly diminishes the almost uncontrollable desire to act on them.

And yet, I still find it hard to say their names.

How do you all deal with school/year/growing up transitions with your kids?

Ours just wrapped their first year at a new school, we did a vacation and they're on to summer camp. And this whirlwind has hit me like a ton of bricks.

I am feeling intense sadness and loss. Thinking about when they used to be little, how the runway to their future used to be so much longer, how they have changed so much and worrying if they are happy enough.

There is nothing wrong with them. They are growing up well and I get near-daily reminders of how they are on paths to be caring, thoughtful, even happy people. They are making good memories (I hope) and good friends.

But I am really ill-equipped for how to handle these strong emotions of loss. Am probably grieving but I don't know how to process that as an OK thing.

Anyone else deal with this?