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How to Handle My Teenager's Reading Problem?

By: Sarah Edwards - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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I have a teenage son who dropped out of Year 10 and has commenced an apprenticeship. He is introverted and generally never discusses feelings. His employer advised me there is a reading problem.

I find it diffcult to talk with him and he always seems to push back. How do I handle this, I really want to help him and assure him that there is help with reading if he speaks up. I don't want him to feel ashamed or embarrassed which I think he might be. Also he talks about aggressive behaviour which is scary maybe a macho thing with friends?

How should I handle this and what resources are available to help kids in this age group?

(T.C, 30 March 2009)


I really sympathise with your situation, and I cannot stress enough that you are NOT alone and not the only parent to have experienced this problem. There is a lot of help and support available for your son to help him achieve his full potential and maybe fill in the gaps that seem to be missing in his education.

The fact that your son finds it difficult to express how he feels makes your situation more complex, as it will be almost impossible for you to figure out what is going on in his head, and what his main concerns are. The last thing that a teenager needs is a parent who constantly nags them and asks lots of personal, searching questions that they really don't want to answer. On the other hand, it is really important that your son knows that you want to help him as best you can. One way to deal with this would be to put the emphasise on his new career/apprenticeship and explain to him that if he really wants to make a go of it, end up with a great job with a high earning potential then he could think about making some improvements to certain areas of his learning.

By putting the emphasis on your son's job, future prospects and by nurturing the idea that he could achieve a lot within his chosen profession, you may find that instead of him seeing your comments as some kind of criticism (which we know they are not, but he may not see it that way!!) your son will begin to understand the value of continuing education and continuing professional development.

Promoting positive behaviour and praising your son whenever possible will also help to build his confidence and make him realise that you are proud of him and want to help him. Peer pressure is a powerful force among teenagers and the macho behaviour you mentioned will be exacerbated by this. Also, when we lack confidence we often cover this emotion up by behaving in an unpleasant way and this could be what your son is doing. Time, patience and communication is all critical and by being firm but fair with your son you will be able to make some headway. Remember that he is still relatively young and living with you (presumably), therefore you do still have a certain amount of control over his behaviour and it is OK for you to explain to him that you are unhappy about any aggression that he is showing. For help with basic literacy skills, contact your local library or college as lots of course are available for young adults that will really help your son's basic skills to improve. Many of the courses are heavily subsidised or free and subjects offered include literacy, numeracy and computer skills as well as basic business studies, communication and self improvement courses. Colleges and centres hold open days regularly and the classroom set up is very different to a school environment so this might suit you son better. Good luck!

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