Hi all, hope you are all well. Firstly, apologies in advance, but this will be quite a long post, so I appreciate your patience!
I don't know whether it's because of Spring (lighter evenings) or because the Easter holidays are coming up (we have a different Easter here in Greece for Greek Orthodox), but DS has been very unmotivated over the last few days, bordering on the verge of laziness with serious attitude (he's just turned 9).
Yesterday it took nearly 2 hours just to do his English homework (he is studying Greek and English) with a ton of complaining, fidgeting, negative attitude and bad mouthing. He had asked me for some help and so I was trying to help him with a short composition, you know, just to give him some ideas of what he could write about, but whatever I suggested was wrong, wrong, wrong. I managed to stay calm through the homework, but with a lot of effort
. You know that biting the tongue, clenching the fists kind of thing? He is not normally like this. I even had to give him a time out in his room to cool down (I don't use this as a punishment but simply as cooling down time). Tried to show some understanding, to explain that when he is done with the homework he will have his "free time" but nothing, motivated him. "I am not in the mood, I want to do it later" was his reply. However, I kept on at it, as I knew that if we left it, we would probably have the same problem next time around. I try not to threaten in situations like this, because I want him to learn that he should cooperate to get things done, not because he will be punished if he doesn't. I have just started this new system lately (explained in my post titled "Hi and update"), avoiding threats (punishment only for really serious situations) but still trying to remain the boss (by not giving in when he knows he has to do something he doesn't like).
My patience finally caved in and ended up totally losing it
after repeated complaining and whining about having to take a shower, I ended the evening (and all my efforts to try to do the right thing) with yelling at DS the top of my lungs. It's not often I yell, this time so much that my throat hurt. I yelled so hard that DS actually ended up crying (I felt terrible afterwards). I said sorry for yelling and told him I made a mistake but that his negative behaviour and attitude has pushed me to my limit. He said he was sooooo sorry and I could see he really meant it. We had a cuddle and a chat and he was ok, but I was feeling guilty all evening and didn't sleep much
DS has a lot of homework generally, about 1 1/2 hours per day, plus a private English lesson twice a week and music / piano practice (he has music once a week after school). He is at school from 8 am to 4 pm (he goes to "after school class, in Greece the schools have this option to help working mothers). We don't usually have time to go out anywhere Mon to Fri and I try to get him to do his w/end homework on Friday so that he can have his weekend free and we can get out of the house and meet with friends etc.
Lately, he doesn't want to practice his piano (says he's frustrated with it), doesn't want to take showers, doesn't want to do homework, doesn't want to basically do anything that doesn't involve doing what he wants. I am not giving in and letting him have his way, but trying to compromise where I can for the less important stuff. I am wondering whether he may be resisting more because I am no longer threatening him with punishment. Perhaps he feels too pressured from school and needs some "down time". I have spoken with his music teacher and asked her to have a chat with him (I am afraid he may want to give up piano due to this lack of motivation which would be a shame beause he's really good at it and it's the only activity he's ever showed an interest in doing outside school) and asked his private English teacher to cut down a bit on the private English homework until after the holidays (after all he has his school English homework anyway).
I used to let him play on the playstation every school day for an hour AFTER he had finished his homework, taken a shower etc., as a reward. However, I noticed that he was becoming addicted and developing an issue when it was time to turn it off. He was very hyper, anxious and impatient all day waiting for his hour on the playstation. It was all he ever talked about with us about and it was as if his life revolved around it. I figured that if he was taking it that seriously, it was becoming an addiction and so now I will only let him play at the weekends. I thought this would help his motivation for other things like board games, drawing or just have some time to play with his lego. He is totally not into any kind of sport and I have asked him on several occasions if he would like to do football or basektball or at least something to soak up all that extra energy he has - but to no avail. I stopped pushing him and I have even stopped pushing him about music because I am afraid it may have the opposite effect.
Does any one have any advice? Do you think I am handling this all in the right way? (right now, I am feeling like the world's worst mother). Any ideas or comments would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post.