This is so hard and heartbreaking seeing a lovely child struggle is difficult. You have had some great ideas here and obviously have tried some great suggestions so I'm not sure I have much more to offer. It is ok for your boy to be alone - not lonely- but solo. Our's didn't prioritize friendships until senior years and still doesn't have a strong group of friends but we encourage him to be strong and happy to spend time with himself. At times, it worried him, but he can still fit in when needed and loves time to be alone as well. Remember, even loners can change the world. Is it possible he was the centre of attention/concern while ill and actually likes being unnoticed? Also, we found the 'right' school for him. It doesn't suit everybody but was perfect for him. If options of another school is available it might be worth considering. Or maybe it would help to try part time at school and at home for a while. Just to ease through this difficult time. The teenage years are a stressful time even for physically healthy teens. Health problems and sometimes the treatments that cure them can delay development. Many illnesses can make a teen's development even harder. It can lead to more intense concerns about physical appearance and interfere with gaining independence. Illness and treatment often interfere with time spent with peers or in the school setting so this can lead to self-esteem issues and concerns about acceptance. Children, who are unwell, do tend to spend a lot of time with adults. His illness may have affected his sense of self, who he is. He may not have had as many opportunities to practise different skills and might struggle to learn them, and this can lead to difficulty with more complicated cognitive and social tasks. He may not know how to talk to other people, how to be friendly or how to feel comfortable with others. He may not have the problem-solving skills to work out what other people want from him and how to deal with other people’s behaviour or meet expectations/demands. This is where your decision to see a counsellor will be beneficial. I also assume he has gaps in school attendance. He may not have the stamina, mentally or physically, to cope at the normal rate. This can take a loooooooooonnnnng time to rebuild. Is he on any medication that could affect his mental and physical resilience and strength? Teens also need to rebel in some form or another. He may not even be aware that he is doing it. If other risks are potentially too harmful, academic decline is a safe option. Is this a possibility? Could your son be just trying to have some control over school? Lack of motivation is a form of resistance. The motivation is to do things his way. The motivation is to retain power. When kids feel powerless, they try to feel powerful by withholding. This doesn’t mean your son is ‘naughty’ or disrespectful. He may see it as the only way to have control over what’s going on around him. Even though he has been through a lot already and you obviously care enough to talk with him and try to find the problem, it is important to still be the parent. It sounds like you are doing this already by giving consequences. Boys also respond very well to praise, descriptive praise. They can’t get enough of it. Rewards can work too. Commend his accomplishments and effort—including those times when it fails to bring the desired results. Remember he may like this to be private, on the down low, so he doesn’t get embarrassed. Rather than focus on results you can focus on the desired skills and processes your son demonstrates. If he doesn’t get an A, did he still; show curiosity, question, research, problem solve, practise? Or other traits of a good learner? This can be applied to all areas of course. Everybody excels at something. Everybody needs to excel at something. So maybe you can find something that gives him joy or a feeling of success. The archery sounds promising. Music? Art? Volunteering? Writing? Kids want to feel valued not only by their families but by the greater community. This will help him find positive ways of building self-esteem and exploring self-identity. I hope this is just another bump in the road for you. I reckon you have this under control. Sending lots of hugs and hope it just gets better from here.
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