What to do when he stops caring

The scary thing is that some boys can appear to be getting along just fine in elementary school, not getting into trouble, getting decent grades, until around 7th grade and then they stop. They stop turning in homework. They stop caring about the grades. They stop getting any pleasure or success out of school. They take themselves off the treadmill. The parents I know whose sons have "dropped out" mentally in middle school are at a complete loss of what to do to get their boys back on track. Any ideas?<a href="from%20#80%20on%20the%20%22%5Bpost=203215%5DHow%20to%20Educate%20Girls%20and%20Not%20Boys%5B/post%5D%22%20thread">/quote</a></p>

<p>I apologize in advance for the extreme length of this post! It has a lot of background information. Please skip to the last few sentences if you don't think you need the exposition.</p>

<p>I stopped very quickly when I hit this comment. That's my brother exactly, I thought. He was an excellent student in elementary school, but the second he hit middle school, he lost all motivation, stopped turning in his homework (note that he still did it!), didn't care that he was failing, went so far to get out of going to school that he actually figured out basic HTML so that he could create a careful mock-up of the snow-day notification page our school put up that a parent who didn't know better (by checking the address bar) would think was the exact same thing.</p>

<p>My parents were at a loss. Quick history: I, the older sister, was always the high achieving/self-motivated student. My brother is very intelligent, but he lost the motivation. My dad, the Marine and disciplinarian (not to mention only masculine influence in the house) works around the world, so is frequently gone for months at a time. My mother has had health problems since my brother and I were very little and often lacks the energy to be proactive about things. </p>

<p>My brother turns 19 on September 30th. My parents pulled him from high school to home school him because the counselor there did not know what to do with him. He was failing 3 out of his 5 classes, and only pulling a C in the best ones. He was cutting class frequently to hang out with one of his friends -- the one who ended up being valedictorian of his class and is starting at Cal this fall, so don't assume the kid was a bad influence -- and all the counselor did was say, "It's just a phase. He'll get over it by the end of the year, I'm sure." He was socially passed from freshman year into sophomore year despite having a GPA of 1.7.</p>

<p>My brother turns 19 on September 30th and he has not graduated high school nor completed his GED. My mother's health problems were exacerbated this past year and she was left very unable to handle my brother, who has become rather obstinate because he has been "left to pasture," so to speak, for the past couple years. He plays computer and console games all day every day (his waking schedule revolves around it, in fact), neglects his hygiene, and could really care a less about school. Before you insist that my parents are enablers (they are, I know), be aware that he is intimidatingly large -- close to six and a half feet tall and he weighs over 250 pounds (though it's not muscle) -- and my mother in her illness does not have the energy to stand strong against his temper tantrums and my father in his absence has very little control over what happens at home.</p>

<p>Yes, he is spoiled. I ruined my parents in preparation for dealing with him because they simply do not know what to do with someone who is not self-motivated. Neither of them went to college, and my father didn't even graduate from high school. </p>

<p>I want to help my brother finish school and find a career. He is a very intelligent kid, as I said before; he has always done very well in math without bothering to study, and he writes well (perhaps thanks to all his time spent on message boards). He gets along well with people -- even in this sloth state of his, he constantly has friends over, and he still speaks regularly with his friend who is now at Cal. We got along well when we were younger (I was a tomboy), and it just sort of all changed once we hit high school. Unfortunately, I am beginning my third year at college this year. Because I am transferring to Cal in the spring, however, I will be home this fall (taking classes online and working). My father is home for a few weeks before he heads back to Taiwan. My mother was pretty successfully rejuvenated from her latest medical attack and has the energy to deal with this.</p>

<p>We all feel like we've failed my brother. We're all trying our best to do something about it now. We want to help him get his GED, get back in shape (and work on the self-presentation thing), get his video-gaming addiction under control, and look for a job.</p>

<p>Do any of you kind and knowledgable parents have any advice for us and how we could possibly go about doing this?</p>

<p>I don't know exactly what to tell you, but at this point -- he has to be the one to make the decision. Not you or your parents. The best thing that your parents can do is to turn off the cable and internet access and get rid of the TV and video games. They are clearly allowing him to escape reality. As long as your parents enable him, the behavior will continue. This also goes for the personal cleanliness. Set the ground rules for the house -- and if he doesn't like them, he can go elsewhere.</p>

<p>Personally, I would insist that he get a full time job and study to pass the GED. I would give him a time limit to accomplish this.</p>

<p>Has he considered joining the military? That is another option I would recommend he explore.</p>

<p>He is an adult who is being allowed to spend his day as he wants, without needing to worry about studying, working, paying rent, showering or anything else. I cannot imagine that without a serious wake-up call, he will change.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>Friend's son was in a similar situation. His interest in gaming motivated him to explore entering Full Sail Real World Education. He completed his GED and is now attending Full Sail. I have no idea how many kids actually get jobs in gaming post grad, but as you know, education can be applicable to many fields. Check it out?
<a href="http://www.fullsail.com/admissions/overview.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.fullsail.com/admissions/overview.html&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>It screams depression to me!
Can you get your brother to go for a physical?
There are also online depression screening surveys. Would he be willing to take one?</p>

<p>Could be depression, an addiction (including to video games). </p>

<p>What I suggest that your parents do is tell him that he can continue to live at home only if he gets a thorough medical evaluation -- including a drug screen -- and if the medical evaluation shows nothing, also gets into regular therapy with a licensed psychologist or social worker.</p>

<p>Unless he has some serious mental health or health problem that would prevent his working, your parents also could tell him that he can continue to stay at home only if he gets a fulltime job -- and pays a reasonable amount of rent. If he's working on his GED, he can do that while working fulltime. That's the real world: People without GEDs have to work to support themselves, and typically, they aren't able to afford the kind of comfortable surroundings that presumably your brother is enjoying at home even if your home happens to be modest.</p>

<p>A 6'5" young man whose mother is afraid to confront him because of his temper? Your brother really needs to see someone who can check him out physically and mentally. An addiction or depression could cause this kind of behavior, but it could be a lot of other things, including a physical illness, a personality disorder, or a mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. If your parents are going to take action, I would start there, by insisting on a thorough checkup, before making other changes.</p>

<p>If your brother does have an underlying condition, there are a lot of viable treatment options that could dramatically improve his quality of life. And if he doesn't, at least your folks will know he has no excuse, and can feel a lot more confident in setting limits.</p>

<p>My cousin is still in a similar situation in his late 50's, living at home with his mom (in her late 80's). It is tragic - such a waste of potential. I second the posters that recommend a physical exam, and wish you and your family the best. 19 is young enough for a turn around!</p>

<p>I am a small woman with three big athletic sons. (the little ones haave not hit puberty yet). Their size/ strength does not even come into the picture in my dealings with them, and if that had been an issue, I would have been out of luck a long time ago.<br>
There is more going on here than your brother losing interest in school. It is normal to see a drop off in interest, increase in disciplinary problems when the fangs (among other things) start to grow, but this looks an example of adolescent/adult adjustment disorder. Your parents should see a psychiatrist to get themselves in good mental order, and to have a professional involved in the problem. Just as in an airplane, the adult should put the oxygen mask on first when the need arises, and then tend to the child, when a family becomes disfunctional because of the aberrant behaviour of one member, the others need help and should get it first. It is also less confrontative to have your brother meet with a therapist when mom and dad are seeing someone for their own issues. I say this because I am now seeing a therapist, and through this venue have finally been able to get my son to see someone. I have been told by psychiatrist that this is not at all unusual. Having a person with problems in the home, does cause problems for the other family members. It is this philosophy that is the basis for Al-Anon, for those affected by someone's alcoholism.<br>
There are a large number of families who have sons (and daughters, but the males seem to be more prone) at home who are "lost". In Japan this has become a severe problem. Here, we often see kids who have even finished college, were good students who can't take the next step. They can't find a job they like, won't take a job they don't like, and end up spending the days in bed and the nights either out carousing, or mindlessly playing video games or fooling around on line. Some of those kids need a swift kick in the tush out the door as a reality check, but many of them have issues that need to be addressed to get them on track. Mental illness does tend to sent in during those years, and it takes a professional to discern the difference between a kid just stuck in a groove and one who is having serious problems.</p>


<p>I have a question about the psychiatrist that you're seeing.</p>

<p>A few years ago, my son had a minor problem. I checked him in a psychiatrist doctor. The 20 minutes visit costed $160. Then, she prescribed tests to see if there's really a problem and that would cost >$1000. I didn't go back but left a bad taste in my mouth.</p>

<p>I guess I have problem with these kind of doctors who may just tell you what you've already known...Am I being fair?</p>

<p>If the OP does decide to see one, what kind of and what tips would you give?</p>

<p>In my opinion, your brother was left to pasture for too long. An all male boarding school might have done the trick but he's too old for that now--unless he would be consider a fifth year boarding school. Parents who let these boys live at home or do homeschool rather than slam up against their own failures are doing them a great disservice. They need a challenging peer group in order to learn how to make their way in the world. More 'Mom' time is not going to do it. Says me, a 5'-2" mum who has no trouble managing tall sons--or several hundred burly construction men.</p>

<p>You should contact a professional educational consultant, preferably one that is registered with the IECA, <a href="http://www.educationalconsulting.org/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.educationalconsulting.org/&lt;/a> . IECA counselors tend to be familiar with the broad specturm of educational needs, not just high-end placements.</p>

<p>It is not easy to find a good psychiatrist/mental health therapist. But, heck, I have trouble finding a good handyman, contractor, cleaning lady as well. You do have to shop around. You start with people you know, particularly if you know they are seeing someone or are affiliated in the field. You work with those people you know whose opinions you respect and like. Because it is very, very difficult to find a good match, it is really a search that the motivated party--the parents if they want help in this situation, has to work at doing. And it does cost money. If you can find some community resources that are free or less money, that can be a good start. Psychiatric social workers, counselors also can be of help. Finding the first good lead to professional in the mental health field is the first tough step. Then once, the parent--or motivated party finds someone, you work with that professional to help you find someone for the person who is the main source of heartache in the family. Most psychiatrists want to talk to other family members, certainly the one who is causing the stress and grief, so it would not be a problem for the parent's shrink to talk to the person in question.<br>
My son had (has) a bad attitude towards these doctors just as you,Cajun dad has. And I am not a therapy lover myself. My husband downright hates the whole idea of therapy. It did take me about a year to find the right match for me. He talked to my son--who was more than happy to help mom out--he was told that this was not for him, but for me, and it went from there. The first referral that was made for my son, he did not like. He likes this doctor very much. That is a great first step. I think the "stigma" of seeing a shrink was diminished because in is being done in tandem with my counseling. He knows that I have issues with him, and he is not happy about his situation. This is a arms length away method of addressing things. Though I have never directly asked my shrink questions of diagnosis for my son, the appropriate comments from him have helped me understand some of the underlying issues that my son is fighting at this time, and I have gotten some practical suggestions on how to deal with specific problems with him.
Mental health therapy is terribly expensive and is rarely covered well under health policies. It is hurting us financially to do this, but I feel that it would be well worth it, if we can come to some acceptable paths.<br>
If there are signs of mental agitation, problems, mood disorders, it is important to get a complete physical including a very thorough blood screen. Not being a doc, I don't know the specifics, but there are disorders of the thyroid, and other physical problems that can be the source of the problem. If you have decent medical insurance, the physical screens would be covered. It would be negligent not to check this out, and it should be a first step. You can consult with your primary physician and have these tests done without bringing the shrink into it, but that baseline needs to be there.<br>
I found my psychiatrist a while back when I did not want or feel I needed therapy. Just heard about him from someone else, and a chance meeting, resulted in my feeling that this was a wise, compassionate, knowledgeable doctor. A brief check of his credentials and background (online) when I decided to call for a consultation, was the next step.<br>
As I said initially, finding any competent match for any professional services--attorney, financial consultant,etc is a touch and go search. We have been working on getting a part time person to help out my mother in law for 5 years, and have yet to succeed. Because a psychiatrist is going to be privy to some very personal things, it is particularly difficult to find a match.</p>

<p>Cheers, I am sure your advice is good: "You should contact a professional educational consultant, preferably one that is registered with the IECA, <a href="http://www.educationalconsulting.org/%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.educationalconsulting.org/&lt;/a> . IECA counselors tend to be familiar with the broad specturm of educational needs, not just high-end placements."</p>

<p>But wouldn't an educational consultant start by suggesting the family get a thorough assessment (medical, psychiatric, behavioral, social, etc.)? I can't imagine the consultant would recommend any sort of interventions without that being done first, especially given the young man's volatile nature.</p>


<p>Thanks for the long reply. It does take efforts and $$$ to get psychiatric help, something the OP or anyone for that matter should be aware of.</p>

<p>D'oh! That's likely what Cheers meant about getting advice from an educational consultant. In a lot of states, kids are entitled to Early Periodic Screening Diagnostic and Treatment services up to 21. And the school system is usually the point of entry. Since he doesn't have a GED or diploma and is still probably on the books as home-schooled, he is probably eligible, but it probably would take someone good at documenting the issues and making referrals to get the system to understand that the young man's behavior goes well beyond ordinary slacking.</p>

<p>Working through the public sector system can still be slow and frustrating, but it's a start, especially if the family doesn't have the resources to pay for an assessment on their own.</p>

<p>No, an educational consultant would take those unknowns into account when recommending the school. There are plenty of 'therapeutic' boarding schools.</p>

<p>There are a number of threads which seem to indicate serious mental illness. This one sounds more like poor environment--or too much pot smoking, frankly.</p>

<p>Unfortunately , private counseling costs$$. Without money (and even with good health insurance, mental therapy is not well covered), a family needs to start looking at all of the community and government services available. The physical is really the first step for the young man, and really for the entire family. it would be easier to get him to take a physical if it is something everyone is doing. When there is something wrong with a person, he often gets nasty about anyone implying that something is wrong with him, so things need to be started with a lot of tact. Somehow communicate to the physician, hopefully a family one, that a drug screen should be given along with the other blood tests that can cause mood disorders. If the problem includes substance abuse, there are a number of free or relatively inexpensive treatment options. It would be a worthwhile investment to get a counselor, really any counselor to gently talk him through to the programs. The OP should check for any kind of program that can start the steps to some sort of therapy, whether it is substance abuse, educational, occupational, medical, psychiatric. If there are teaching hospitals, check out what they have, investigate offerings and ideas from local colleges. This is not going to be easy, and will take a lot of research and then personally checking out the possibilities. The brother is not likely to cooperate in being paraded around everywhere, so the ducks should be in a row when the big step of involving him has to be taken. Conyat is right about working through the public sector, there just may be some resources available. Also there are support groups for just about everything. They are usually free and the parents in them often have a wealth of ideas, (like the parents at CC), If you can kind of match up his symptoms to a disorder, even unconfirmed, attending the meetings, getting on the websites can be valuable and inexpensive. I was on the verge of looking for something through this route when I came upon the psychiatrist that has been so effective and is working with me at just the right pace for me. For a young man who is not likely to go to college for a while, this might be where the college money should be invested if there is any.</p>

<p>There is a growing problem in Japan, usually among young men, adolescent boys called hikikomori. This is not isolated to Japan. There are many such young men in the US with the same symptoms.</p>

<p>"No, an educational consultant would take those unknowns into account when recommending the school. There are plenty of 'therapeutic' boarding schools."</p>

<p>Cheers, are you one of these consultants, or are you just going by what they recommended in a situation you're familiar with? I find it hard to believe that any kind of education professionals would see it as their role to just steer people with explosive tempers to boarding schools as a one-size fits all solution, without first ruling out a physical problem or mental problem that contributes to the behavior. </p>

<p>It would be irresponsible not only to the child, but also to the other children in the school, to take the risk of placing, say, an unmedicated schizophrenic or a person whose erratic behavior is due to an undiagnosed metabolic issue or temporal lobe epilepsy. Professional ethics aside, the liability issues would be staggering. </p>

<p>Anyone who tells you they have a treatment plan for your child, but hasn't bothered to assess your child, I would be very leery of. I've never heard of a doctor's office sending around someone to pass out medication in the waiting room before taking your vital signs and asking you your symptoms, much less prescribing the same type of medication to each person.</p>

<p>I am sure you have the best of intentions, and you may well be right about the drug use, but I hope you're wrong about how these consultants operate.</p>

<p>Any one of the suggestions given are not going to help the problem. You look for choices. There may be a program that addresses issues that the young man has, and it may be in a school. I know that here we have a public school that takes kids with behavioural and emotional issues beyond age 18. Now because he has a GRE that may eliminate such options, but an educational consultant may know of progråms that could be useful to the young man. Going to an inexpensive community college for a fun type course that still gives credit can give the young man free access to mental health facilities on that campus. There are local colleges here where you can take single courses, and use the counseling resources.
In our area, we have career training courses paid for by the state in such trades and occupations as HVAC, nurse assistant, etc. So, yes, the education route can uncover some low cost or even free programs that måy be palatable to the young man. Starting one of them is a good reason for a complete physical, and he may not object to that whereas just telling him tha† he needs a check up, mental and physical because they think something is wrong with him is not a good tack. It is a monumental job getting these stuck in mud kids out doing anything. Short of sending the men in the little white coats, if you even can, there is not much you can do with a non minor who is not is just not doing anything. You need a little movement in some direction to get started on an appropriate path. You aren't getting anywhere while he is vegetating in his room.</p>

<p>undecided - I think it's wonderful that you want to help your brother "fix" whatever is wrong in his life. And you can certainly collect some ideas that might help accomplish this. But you can't make him shower and you can't make him study and you can't make him participate in therapy and you can't make him find more productive uses for his time. Until your brother shows some interest in changing his life, passive support may be the best you can do for him (and for your family).</p>