Dylan is No Longer Failing.
After discovering that Dylan was failing all of his academic classes, we took away the privilege of using electronics.
Dylan’s behavior at home – for a week – had been phenomenal. He’d been kind and pleasant and polite. He wasn’t spinning like a wild top all the time. He’d been paying attention to his diet, taking his “brain vitamins” (no medication) every day, and really trying to respond like an adult when people talked to him. Almost as important, he hadn’t been getting in trouble at school.
So it was an incredibly difficult decision to give him any consequences for his actions.
I called Bill beforehand. “We can’t just keep allowing him to spend all night playing video games and chatting with people all over the country,” I said. “He has C’s, D’s and F’s in every subject.”
“Well, here’s what we need to do,” Bill said. “We need to present it in such a way that we recognize all of his good behavior. Point out what he’s done, how well he’s done, and then just ask him to apply those behaviors to school work.”
Bill had an after-work meeting, so I was on my own with this conversation.
But I was determined for it to go well. I pulled out the list of responsible behaviors I’d itemized for Dylan. I highlighted the many, many positive behaviors he’d already been exhibiting. And when we sat down, I explained that he’d been doing wonderfully – that he had almost all of the behaviors showing that he could be a full-blown responsible adult.
And then I dropped the hammer.
“Until you apply those behaviors to school work, and get your grades up, we can’t allow you the privilege of using electronics. You can keep your phone, because we’re not trying to cut you off from your friends. But you need to show some real improvement at school before you can use the computer or the iPad again.”
Dylan started to cry. It was horrible.
“So basically what you’re saying is that even though I’ve done everything right, you’re punishing me.”
I remained calm. Thank you, Kirk Martin. “No,” I said. “I’m saying that because you’ve done everything right, we know you can apply those behaviors to your school work and we want you to have the opportunity to do that.”
It didn’t go well after that. There was an hour-long discussion that, on my end, made no sense at all. Dylan seemed to be talking around in circles, while I spoke jibberish back to him. We were both trying to make a point – but the points didn’t seem to be related to one another.
Finally we gave up on talking, and Dylan went outside to jump on the trampoline with Shane.
When Dylan came back in, he was like a new person. He ate dinner, laughed with everyone, and went to bed at a reasonable hour.
The next day, he woke up like an adult. He did everything right again. He had a horrific milk-box-explosion in his backpack at school – and cleaned it up by himself. When he got into the car with his backpack in one hand and his “stuff” in the other hand, he was still doing well.
“I have my work all figured out,” he said in the car – for the first time ever. “I’m going to fix one paper from social studies, which will bring my grade up from an F to an A. Then I’m going to do my physics homework and my algebra. And I’ll read the chapters for English before I go to sleep,” he said.
And that’s what he did.
So, Dylan is no longer failing.