Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

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Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

We've had an ongoing struggle with having our son commit to his studies.  He's a smart kid, probably around a B+ standard or higher, however, his results aren't reflecting this.   He's the kind of kid that wants little effort for quick gain.

Throughout all of Year 11 last year, and Year 12 so far, we've tried everything we can think of to encourage him to develop good study habits.  We've always encouraged he spend time with his friends, continue with his part-time job, but he is completely unable to balance/prioritise this.  His girlfriend and friends come first, work comes second, and study/school is allocated whatever time is remaining - of which there's not much.


We've spoken gently to him about it.  We've tried to put timetables in place to help him.  We've bought calendars and tried to work out a weekly plan: i.e. time with friends, study, jobs.  Every conversation ends up being positive and with him feeling motivated, until the next day when (a) he gets asked to work or (b) his girlfriend gets sooky that she's not spending time with her or (c) his friends are all meeting up after school, etcetera.   

We also have massive issues of distraction with mobile phones and internet/Netflix etc.  It's difficult to monitor and really difficult to set boundaries with a 17yo who needs the internet for study (but then a text message comes through to the phone or laptop and it's all over.)

It's a day by day thing.  We make weekly plans for long-term goals with him, but by the next day it's all out the window, depending on what better offers have come up for him.  He's quite sneaky about some things too - i.e. has plans for later in the week but doesn't mention them until the last minute in case it jeopardises his immediate intentions (e.g. "I'm just meeting up with friends for a while after school, but I'll be home straight after school tomorrow night," and not mentioned that he's been rostered to work for the next two nights and then has plans again on Friday, resulting in one night home for the week out of seven).

His friends are doing better than he is at school.  His girlfriend is not yet doing VCE, but she has extremely academically successful parents and I know she's doing well at school herself and next year her boyfriend isn't going to be her first priority, but by then that's too late for our son.

It's affecting our family on a daily basis.  It's been a daily struggle for all of last year and since school started this year, but it seems that we (his parents) are the only ones that care.  But that's our job, right?

We're burning out!  We have a busy household and lots of other stressors - disability/illness in the immediate family - and we just want him to do the right thing and make the right choices.  He's old enough to know better.

I honestly believe that he has every intention to do the right thing, but it's always, "after this," or "tomorrow" or "next week."  Before we know it, it will be too late. 

At what point is it ok to give up? 

Nobody wants to give up on their child, but we're running out of fuel.  He's not 10 years old.  We can't ground him or make him study (and with internet access, it's impossible anyway as he needs it for studying and access to school sites, etc).  He's too old to monitor his every move and monitor what he's doing on his computer, but he just doesn't have the commitment (until "tomorrow" or "next week") to do this properly on his own.

I feel like the only way he's going to realise that he needs to knuckle down and re-**bleep** his priorities is to when he has a pretty lowsy result at the end of the year, but I'm not going to be able to accept that as a possibility until I'm sure I've explored every option that I could, before we burn out whilst trying.

Sorry for such a long post.  It's a bit of a vent as well! Smiley Happy

(Edited to add - I didn't do well in school because I didn't have the motivation or inspiration to do well.  I had more exciting things to worry about than school.  I know I could have done so much better, which would put my family now in a better position to what we're currently in.   This is probably adding to my frustration, as he's going down the same path as I did and I know that one day too he'll wish he tried harder).

Parent Community Champion

Re: Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

Hey there @kaygee  and welcome to the forum.  
Ah it sounds like such a difficult place to be in ! You clearly want the best for your son, and it sounds like you've tried a lot of things to support him, and help him to make good choices around his study.  

It can be so hard to know how to help without being punitive. 


I'm wondering if you've tried talking to him about what his goals are for year 12 and beyond? Does he want to go to university? Is he hoping for good marks? If it's not important to him, it's unlikely he will find the motivation to study.  On the flip side, he may have really high hopes, and be really stressed about all of this too - the stress that teens can feel around exams, can hinder their motivation as well. 


We have an article on our youth side here about other ways to get into uni - these days, the final exams are not the be-all and end-all to getting into uni, and a lot of young people are finding paths that work for them. 


We also have this article on how to get stuff done which is written to help teens- you might want to share with your 17 yo? 


On our parents site - we have this article about how to help your teen prepare for year 12 exams with practical tips, and we also have this one about how to help your teen avoid distractions. 


I'm sorry to bombard you! But I gathered from your post you were wanting practical tips and insights-  so hopefully something in the above is helpful! 


I'm also wondering if you've told him about your own experience and regret? I think if communication comes from a place of sincerity and genuine care - rather than guilt or disappointment, it is likely to be well received. 


This issue of studying - and balancing the other parts of life - along with distractions - is SUCH a common one. I'm going to tag a few other parents who might be able to offer their experience too. @JAKGR8 @WhaeaM  @Kkay69 


Parent Community Champion

Re: Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

Dear @kaygee this is a long answer because I thought about it for a long time.


Year 12 is tough. There is so much pressure on the kids and parents. We all feel time slipping away and often think about how we would do things differently. 


I don't know how you parent or what type of learner your son is so I am just going to make suggestions based on what we try or have seen others try. Of course that doesn't mean it will work for you.


Study is a personal choice and there are many ways to go about it and it also depends on the type of subjects studied. I will share with you what I have shared with others. 

There are many different thoughts on home work. Queensland state schools emphasise a need for balance between family life and consolidating classroom learning. There is an emphasis on helping students establish a positive routine of regular, independent study, without going overboard. Having said that, I never make my kids do theirs straight after school. They need a break. I even encourage them to nap because, like toddlers, their bodies have a lot going on so the nap helps them reboot. In fact, the nap (45 min) has changed our lives. They are so much happier to interact and work. And teens are meant to be night owls, they work better then, so yes their bed time is later but I’ll take that over “surly girlie” kids any day. The key is balance and while homework is important, so too are the other healthy activities. 


Guidelines prescribe levels of homework for different age groups as follows:

  • Homework in Years 8 and 9 could be up to - but not more than - five hours each week
  • Homework in Years 10, 11 and 12 will vary according to the young person’s learning needs and individual programs of learning.

Now, how this works for each kid can be different. One of ours likes traditional learning styles. Our youngest likes the “doodle” method, which is also effective. Research shows learning outside is better than inside or going for a walk after learning can help consolidate the days efforts. Handwriting is important. Flexing the right side while learning and the left while recalling is also helpful to some. If revising, then reading aloud, rewording or recording in a different way can help. One of ours likes to record audio notes. Study groups are great for teens (over skype, online is fine) as long as they are not just sharing answers. 


Basically, experiment to find what works for your child and then make it routine. Encourage him to set achievable goals, reflect on his work and changes he can make. USQ has a wonderful Student Support page which also suggests some great time management apps. You might need to search a little. 


We too have a 17yo in the house. When I first read that you felt you can't 'enforce' too many rules or expectations on a 17yo I was nodding in agreement until I went, "Hang on! We have a 17yo! We still have lots of 'expectations'."  Let me be clear. This has been a life time (hers) of preparation.  She does lots of chores around the house, cooks one meal (at least) a week, does her own washing. has a part time job, a boyfriend, extra commitments in the school music program and is trying to earn the Queen's Scouting Award this year. 



During the school term she is not allowed to have social engagements on a school night (Sun-Thurs) and no sleepovers on the weekend. We started this when the boyfriend reached Yr12 because we didn't want her distracting him. So this involved more than our family.  They didn't go to the same school either so we had a bit of resistance but I'll explain in a minute how we deal with that when I am being mature (not easySmiley LOL)


We have a shared family google calendar which also gets printed and put on the fridge. If it's not on the calendar it's not happening, without a great negotiation process. I am happy to be flexible (if it suits me) when good manners are used. 



Yes, they need it but here's the twist...they don't need it 24/7/ In fact they may be working on a computer but not using the internet! They nearly had us fooled. I have also shared with others that I am experimenting with the family modem settings. You can google how to do it for your provider.

These are a few things I have tried which got a very quick response from the 17yo. 

  • Changed the password regularly
  • blocked her devices only
  • blocked her devices for certain hours each day - this is my favourite. When she is being really mean I will make it different every day. It is very effective.
  • blocked certain websites like YouTube, Instagram, Netflix intermittently during the day.
  • reduced the data capability of her personal phone. What does she need it for when she can potentially have unlimited access at home?
  • no phone while studying *sometimes. If this is too tricky then needs to study in a common area, where we can see the screen if necessary. 
  • turn off internet at the same time every night - so gets it done before 10 pm and there shouldn't be a problem.

If he has paid for his own phone you may like to remind him that he uses your power to charge it and lives 'rent free' because there are certain expectations while he lives at home. Many phones have the option to go into 'do not disturb' if turned face down on the table. My younger daughter must have 'do not disturb' turned on during study and sleep times. Has made a huge difference to her sleep. 


It helps to remember that all the things that you describe as distractions are privileges. You can't have privileges without responsibilities hence chores, study etc.We have always made it clear what our obligations as parents are vs our desires. Food, shelter, clothing, health, education, hugs...we live in a First World Country and they need to consider this before complaining. Just as we have parent obligations, they have child ones. Depends on their age. 



Should be his. Start with goals just for tomorrow and build from there. Keep it transparent and him accountable

Now how do we do this? Without tantrums? Rarely. 


We do explain to the tiddlypeeps that teen brains, while mature, are not adult brains. They are wired to take more risks and engage in group shenanigans. So we explain how 'expectations' are coming from our adult brains not our hearts. Head parent vs Heart parent. There are many times I would like to let the BF come over because he is so lovely but my head tells me the time management risk is too high. I explain how my adult brain sees things and why I have a certain expectation and why the teen brain goes with the more emotional response.  They still fight it but they know I research a lot.  Apparently this teen brain can last until they're 28!!!!


What do I do when there is defiance or rule breaking? Well admittedly, my kids are pretty good at this because I began planning for teens from birth. In it for the long game...So I do lots or talking, explaining, sharing of concerns and bossing. I use questions to redirect their behaviour based on Ed Ford's RTP. Questions or statements like;

  • I don't like the way you're talking to me...try again.  (they may need to walk away and come back later)
  • I don't like the way you're talking to me - do you need a hug?
  • Are you talking to me? 
  • What are you doing? What are the expectations/rules?
  • What happens when you break the rules? Is that what you want? (must know the consequences, they aren't independent adults yet)
  • Is that part of the plan?
  • When did you tell me about this?
  • Maybe we should do this later?
  • And during negotiation - what's in it for me?Smiley LOL
  • Is that 'consequence' what you want? So, what are you going to do?
  • How can I help?
  • Is this getting you what you want?


      You said "At what point is it ok to give up?", this week even but you can try again next week. We can't always stick to the plan. It is hard work. We are always looking for new ways to do things and work things out. Take it easy on yourself. 


We also discovered that the girls needed more time with their dad, as he is away a lot. Now they slot in a 'date' when they can and it makes a huge difference, especially without me there. Never underestimate quality time. So don't let your son leave you out of his busy social life. You matter too. Get to know his friends really well. Know their likes and interests, listen to the rot about relationships and just pay attention. Teen lives are full, overwhelming and a little scary. 


Having said all that...Yr12 is not the end. He can repeat, do a bridging course or just fail. Biggest motivator there is. I repeated Yr12 and it sucked but it worked.


Sometimes all you can do is be there when it all falls apart. Deep breath from me, as I wish you didn't have to go through this struggle and I feel your concern. And remember - just because it works for me doesn't mean it is what you want to do. 


Good luck.

Community Manager

Re: Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

Hi @kaygee and @JAKGR8,


This is such an important discussion, so I have just featured this topic on the home page so more parents can see it!

Parent Community Champion

Re: Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

Thanks @Jess1-RO 

This is a very stressful time of year for parents and Yr11 & 12. I would love to see what other parents/ carers find successful or avoid at all costs. 

Parent Community Champion

Re: Year 12 - study commitment issues (sorry, it's a long one!)

Hi kaygee


Sounds like you are on the right path on your plans and there is plenty of good advice from gina-Ro and JAKGR8


I would suggest have a discussion and see what your son is looking to do with his life, but experience says he most likely not got a clue at this age.  If he does how does his current studies line up with achieving this?  If you are lucky and he has some thoughts, maybe you can link his studies into his goals.


What I can offer is an example of how failing to do well in year 12 does not mean there future will be poor.

There are other ways to succeed in life.  Not everyone is willing to commit to their studies in year 12.  

I left high school at the end of year 11 and did an apprenticeship.

Years later I came back and after many years of part time school ended up with a Masters Degree at the end.   (Not that I define success as having the Masters, but this is about education so I put it in hereSmiley Happy  )

Remember at the end of the day, he is nearly and adult and while he lacks perspective and probably doesn't fully understand the impact of his choices, all you can do is guide him.

They are his choices and not yours to make.


You will love him and get frustrated with his choices but he will always be your son.

And letting him grow through making what you see as mistakes is painful.