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Children Difficult child I am a mother of two, a boy of 11 and a girl aged eight. My girl has never given me any problem but my boy is another matter.

He is messy and irresponsible. The biggest headache is that he always comes home without homework and later I find out that he has kept his unfinished homework without telling me. He has been doing that since he was in Year 1 and this has carried on until now. Despite threatening to take him out of school, giving him pep talks and setting an award system for good work done, nothing seems to work for long.

I send him for tuition classes daily and he fails to pay attention and shows no interest. All tuition teachers and school teachers will review his conduct and say the same thing: "Never pay attention, very bad handwriting." But when I withdraw him from the tuition class, he will ask for it.

I am not expecting him to be a scholar, just to be responsible for his own lessons and homework. When I sent him for the international math exam (ICAS), he scored a high distinction, that proved he can do it.

When it comes to sports in school or school-based social work, his energy is boundless. He runs up and down for teachers without saying he's tired.

I spend lots of time explaining to him that he needs to be self-disciplined and needs to change his attitude. All the encouragement will boost his self-esteem for five minutes only.

Lately, every morning he has been waking up with a sulky face and taking breakfast with his eyes closed. Sometimes I yell at him because I can't tolerate this behaviour. Many times, I feel like crying for his misbehaviour.

For instance, I have told him to hang his uniform up but he just refuses to do it.

Some friends asked me to put aside the education issue and treat him well but I can't close my eyes to unfinished homework and just keep silent.

I don't treat him unfairly. I treat both my children fairly and every school holidays we will travel together for an overseas trip. Every weekend, we dine out and they get their choice of food.

Please help me. Will counselling help?

Thank you,
Distressed mother


Answered by Woo It seems like your child has the ability to do well in certain areas of academic work, from his ICAS score. However, it seems that there are some other factors that are hindering his interest in academic work. There are plenty of reasons why his motivation is low for certain academic subjects and the only way to help him is to bring him in for an assessment. Yes, counselling may help, but only if the causes are determined. I would suggest that he sees an educational/ child psychologist to assist him further.

All the best.

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