October 20


Revising Teenagers

By Henry Dingle

October 20, 2021

“I’m dreading Half Term...

He’s got so much work to do, but he won’t do it and I just don’t know how to support him with it.  I just can't face the nagging any more and it doesn't work anyway.  It'll be a week of simmering tension between us at best and outright conflict at worst...”

This conundrum comes up again and again for parents of teenagers in the years running up to GCSEs.  My heart goes out to everyone in this deeply uncomfortable position, parent and child and it's a huge motivator for me doing what I do and offering what I offer.

The pressure is unbearable for both parent and teen, with a critical delay in the realisation for the younger generation...  The mountain looms larger and larger as each day or week goes by.  Motivation to tackle it drains away with each failed attempt to do something about it.

The mums say: “Why aren’t they revising yet?  We were all really disappointed to hear the predicted grades but they’re still not doing anything about it!  Mocks are only in a few months’ time and they can’t leave it all til Christmas…  How do they start to chip away at this colossal-seeming task?"

Well, whilst we’re at it, that is the only way: chipping away, one small piece at a time.  

Because it IS a mountain.  So many subjects and such a lot to learn, in the Sciences, in History, in Geography; whole texts to read or re-read for English Lit, many Maths topics still to master…  And where do you put the emphasis anyway?  Go all out for good grades in their A Level choices or focus on recovering some of the weaker subjects so that they can at least pass them…?

In my experience, what is needed here is someone who can come in and stop time.  Someone who can create immediate liberty, relief and space to free up both parties, parents and the young adult child concerned; to bring freshness, empowerment and joy back into the mix for all, to fend off the self-defeating stressing and incapacitating angst.  Then everything can start to work again, baby steps can be taken by the teen, the intrinsic reward of stepping up and getting stuck in felt by the student themselves and trust in the family dynamics slowly but surely growing or re-establishing.

Students that I’ve met need to know first of all why they have to do this.  Even the more academically-minded and school-adapted often aren’t completely clear on the real purpose.  “Because we have to,”  just isn’t sufficient for longterm commitment or ultimate success with the job in hand.

Why bother pulling it together and starting revising now, in October?  Why give up on a lifetime of (discrete) avoidance of this kind of responsibility now?  The bare minimum has kind of worked up til this point, so why change?  I haven’t needed to be too serious about homework or revision these past 5 years, so why should I swap out this winning formula now?  And besides - they say - Mocks aren’t for months! I’ll do it ALL at Christmas…?!

And a question few of this age ask, though it hampers and hangs around so many of them, "why risk failure?"  (When you can hide away?)

This is the territory I love to get into with my students.  What’s really in it for them?  Straight talk.  Why should they bother, honestly...?

Well I’ll tell you what I tell them.

There is no peace in avoidance in this system.  It just gets more and more uncomfortable the more you try and wriggle out of it.  That’s one thing.

The other thing is that there is no joy or reward to be had from not participating.  If you don’t find a way to give yourself to your studies then, naturally, you get nothing back.  What awaits you is a further year (or two) of boredom, frustration and resentment in the classroom, minimal enjoyment of this phase of your life, no growing confidence in your own capacity, interests and abilities and of course - the one they all already know about - no good grades to celebrate in summer or build a future life on either.

But my real message to them is about enjoyment in the present moment, about fulfilment right now, today and tomorrow and the next day.  Instant gratification if you like... 🙂 

How can you improve your own life straight away? 

Well bizarrely there is way more freedom, love and satisfaction in commitment than in avoidance. Finding ways to continue to show up openly, to engage, developing the maturity to settle down and immerse yourself in your homework (with your phone in another room, preferably on another floor...), that’s how to bring this spiralling misery to life!  

Not just to get it done and out the way - that is a terrible lifestyle... 

No, what you really want is years of getting more and more into it and more and more out of it; being open to all it can give you, being open to your teachers - not at war with them, immersing yourself in homework, getting the maximum you can out of all of it, however bad it may seem at first… 

It takes two to rekindle a relationship with a person, activity or institution.  If the student is not participating openly and willingly, then no teacher, subject or school under the sun can do anything about it, it’s going to be a horrible, empty and disappointing few years full of blame, criticism and judgement and bags of cynicism also to hide behind.

I want my students to feel dignity in their school years, to step up and get the most out of it, to take the challenge on and gain all the real fruits that come with that mindset, throughout the year, starting right now!  Then on into the exams themselves and in the results they get.  Yes in terms of grades, of course, but most of all in terms of personal growth, empowerment, enjoyment, inner self-confidence and purpose that they can take into all of future life.

I don’t want any of them to think it’s a win for them to drift along in life, gaming and on their phones, giving nothing, getting it in the neck from all sides as they go, feeling unfulfilled (and not knowing why), hiding and pouring away years of time and attention to companies and activities that don’t care one jot about their present well-being or future prospects.

If this is your situation, I really can help you and them turn things around before Christmas.

Book a free consultation with me this week by clicking ‘Apply for Oct ‘21’ on my website.

Wishing you and your families all a great week (and a great Half Term!)


Henry Dingle

About the author

Henry is a one-stop shop for exasperated parents and demotivated, under-performing and frustrated teenage students. An expert in the engagement and motivation of young adults through authentic relationship-building, trust and accountability, he is a panacea for academic struggles and stresses in any family.

With over 15 years experience in tutoring 14-16 year olds in English & Maths, he uses primarily essay-writing technique (how to think), for Literature and Language, and optimal processing (how to relax and focus), in Maths, as the vehicles for increasing student enjoyment, self-study, confidence & performance in all subjects.

Henry empowers young adults to ‘self-direct’ their own learning - to lead on it themselves and to do it with joy, motivation and purpose. He is an expert at engaging this age group and uses his knowledge and background as a specialist Maths & English Tutor to enable a comprehensive shift in his students towards academic drive, success and well-being.

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