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How To Get My Teenage Brother To Study??

by Mubashira
(Karnataka, India)

My brother is 17 years old now, studying in 11th standard. He is pretty good at his studies, scored 85% in 10th standard without putting in much effort.

Now it is like he has lost his interest in studies completely. He loves all the luxury things such as a mobile phone, laptop, internet,television and his bike, kind of becoming materialistic.

His teachers say that he doesn't concentrate in class. He is casual, doesn't take anything seriously, you can scold or shout or do whatever you want but just gives a deaf ear.

We don't understand how to handle him. When we tell him to study, he doesn't and starts back-answering! He says he wishes to be a doctor, but we cannot afford a donation seat, so he has to study hard for it get through entrance tests.

When told so he replies over-confidently that he will get a place. His results are consistently decreasing and it makes me worried. When told about this he puts the blame on others, such as the teachers don't correct the paper properly or set the questions as very difficult.

Please HELP!

Comments for How To Get My Teenage Brother To Study??

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Motivating Teenagers To Study
by: Annie Desantis

Hi Mubashira,
He is a lucky young man to have a sister so concerned for him, and clearly your whole family want him to succeed.

Developing Good Study Habits


Unfortunately teenagers don't always see the consequence of their actions, and he certainly seems to be out of touch with the reality of his situation.

At his age, he needs to be developing his own study habits and attaining his own goals. Being bossed around and told what to do is just resulting in him being rebellious, back chatting etc.

But one thing strikes me, he has a lot of expensive equipment and as you say luxuries. Unless he has earned the money to buy these things himself, these are not his by right, they are provided to him by a family who is very generous. Part of the deal in living in a family and having all those benefits, is respecting and appreciating what he has got. I am wondering if he has been given way too much on a plate and has not learned how to earn things for himself, and to appreciate how to work towards the goal of achieving something.

Teenagers Need To Set Their Own Goals


He really needs to decide for himself, in consultation what he wants to work towards. If he is serious about being a doctor - and maybe he has no realistic idea of what that really means - then he will need to work very hard to achieve that. He will be responsible for lives as such he will need to learn the discipline of study and hard work. Maybe he has a romantic idea of what being a doctor is all about.

Perhaps you might be able to arrange for him to talk to a doctor about what is involved in that as a vocation. Observing at a busy Accident and Emergency may well give him a reality check.

The fact that he is saying the teachers are to blame for his poor grades, is ridiculous. He may well have been able to coast through school up until now, but it looks like he has reached his level of what he can achieve by coasting.

What Motivates Him?


Teenagers have to find what motivates them. And being told off or bossed around by parents and older siblings is not self motivation.

It would be better as a family, or one on one, to listen to him about what he really wants. If he is really serious about becoming a doctor, or going into further study, then help him to work out what will help him to stick to a study plan. The more he can plan what he needs to do to succeed, the more he will take ownership of it. The more that parents or family tell him what to do the more he will rebel - even if it is not in his best interests!

Part Two Follows . . .

Motivating Teenagers To Study - Part Two
by: Annie Desantis

Withdrawing Luxuries


I am not in favor of punishments, I think children need to learn consequences of their behaviour, and sometimes that does mean failing at something. However, it is not reasonable for parents to pay to educate a child and not to expect them to at least put in a reasonable effort, and also to treat parents with respect.

In his case, I would think about some of his privelleges having to be earned, or even withdrawn. But do this in conjunction with him planning on his study habits and goals so he is responsible for as much of the planning as possible.

He needs to negotiate for what he thinks is achievable, and what his parents or teacher thinks is necessary for him to acheive the grades he wants. The key is he needs to make a committment. And he might need some incentive to stick to it, like 30 mins TV time for every study hour, or an afternoon out with his friends after he has done 3 nights productive studying. As much as possible get him to come up with consequences, but make sure they are ones that actually have some value to him.

So maybe no mobile phone if he is not sticking to his committment, or restricted internet access.

He needs to learn the value of the luxuries, and to realize they are not his by right if he doesn't hold up his end of the arrangement.

Commitment + Ownership


He also needs to agree and be committed, not have a study regime imposed on him, he simply will not stick to it, and you all end up policing him.

He needs to have a good enough reason to work hard, and at present he is not taking responsiblity for that. He has a big dream, if that is actually what he wants, but it is not going to just arrive on a plate for him, he really is going to have to make some hard decisions.

Sometimes kids have to fail at something to really decide if it is what they want or if they are prepared to do the work to achieve something. If he really does not think he needs to work hard and is not prepared to, then he is going to get a huge reality check if he does fail, or does not get a good enough grade to get into Med school.

Part Three Follows . . .

Motivating Teenagers To Study - Part Three
by: Annie Desantis

Taking Responsibility


Our teens do have a lot of pressure with school, they are also learning about relationships, and their peer group is increasingly more important. But they also can't always see the bigger picture and if he has been able to cruise through life, and his family have given him pretty much anything he wants, then he really has not had to make any hard decisions or to really take any responsibility for creating his life.

He clearly has a very loving and supportive family, but you have also got very stuck in the role of playing police - trying to MAKE him do what he should. Try to get alongside him and help him to explore what it is he really wants and what the reality is of him getting it, and how can you support him in that, without having to always nag him to do what you think he should. As his sister, you seem to have taken on a parental role with him, and he will probably talk to you more if you are more of a peer and a role model, rather than you being his bossy nagging big sister!

If you are always critical and judgmental of him, he is not really going to open up and talk to you about any of the things that might be going on underneath. Older siblings have a really important role, in that they are often seen as more approachable than parents, plus you have had more life experience than him.

Good luck with him, hopefully he will figure it out and decide to work towards it.

Feel free to make any further comments below,

all the best,
Annie Desantis :)

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