The Slacker Virus

Apparently there seems to be a virus that runs rampant in middle school kids.  I call it the slacker virus.  I am convinced my child has it, and the more parents I talk to, the more I find just how common it is.

What exactly are the symptoms? Well I will describe my own child’s symptoms to give you an idea, but I am sure there are some variations.

Initial Symptoms

  •  Your “A and B” elementary school student starts middle school.
  •  Suddenly the A’s and B’s start to disappear.  They are replaced with B’s and C’s respectively.
  •  At first you think this is just their adjustment to middle school.  After all, your child has never struggled before.  So, as a former “A and B” parent, you start to freak out.  You think, “How could my brilliant child be doing so poorly?”  So you struggle through the first year of middle school looking for tutors and other solutions to help your child.
  • Then you start to find that your child isn’t really struggling.  Nope, the reason for their drop in grades is more from failure to do/turn in homework assignments than from failure to understand the subject.
  • Pure laziness.  Punishments ensue.
  • If you are lucky enough to maintain your sanity, you may be lucky enough to make it to the end of the school year with perhaps a slight improvement in their grades.
  • If you just skip to the section below entitled “The Cure” you may just be lucky enough to kill the virus early on so that it doesn’t progress.

Then year two of middle school happens – or stage two.

Stage Two – Progression

  • If you are unfortunate to make it to stage two, you will find your child’s grades plummet a little faster towards the beginning of the school year.  You may think to yourself, oh here we go again, but little do you know that this virus has progressed.
  • Maybe it’s a shared virus between friends, maybe not.  But whatever the strain of virus, assignments are getting missed more frequently.
  • As if the dropping grades aren’t bad enough, the virus takes over your child’s tongue, and they start making up reasons:
    • “I turned it in, the teacher must have misplaced it/not have entered the grade yet.”
    • “I did it, but forgot to turn it in.”
    • “I didn’t know I had that assignment.”
    • “I forgot to bring that book home.”
    • And my personal favorite…”The computer I am using doesn’t have Microsoft Word on it, so I can’t do it.”  (Nevermind the fact that there is another computer in the house with Microsoft Word on it.)
  • So as the virus progresses, so do the punishments. More privileges are taken away.  Threats are made, and even a little bribery may begin to take place.

The Cure

There is hope, although it may not come fast enough.

  • First, you must create an alliance with your child’s teachers. When you do this, don’t be surprised when you find your sweet little child is playing both ends of the spectrum.
  • Let your child know that you and the teachers are communicating and comparing stories.  It’s important that the child knows that you are on to them.
  • Set a firm deadline for everything to be brought up to date, and set a consequence for failure to meet this deadline.
  • Explain to your precious child what it truly means to fail – repeating a grade, not being with their friends, etc. etc.  You may be surprised to learn that they didn’t really know this could happen.  (I guess you never really know how things work until you are taught.)
  • Finally – TOUGH LOVE.  Find that one heartbreaking punishment that matters.  No matter how much you love your little one, it is imperative that you find the most effect one and STICK TO IT!  No matter how much you hate to see your baby upset.  Some medicinal tactics may include:
    • Loss of cell phone/ipod/etc.
    • No game/computer privileges
    • No sleepovers/friend outings until grades come up
    • And the really harsh one that I must finally resort to…cancellation of any upcoming birthday fun. Yep, it may have to get that drastic.

So as much as I hate to break my dear baby’s heart.  We must conquer this virus.  I hope that my medicine works, or I am sure she will feel like it has taken her to the brink of death when that special day of hers arrives and nothing special happens.  Of course, a little bit of prayers for us are always welcome.  😉

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