30/03/2011 13:24 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Ask Joanne: Should I Pay For A Private Tutor?

What's your dilemma about any aspect of life as a parent? Our experienced life coach Joanne Mallon is here to answer your questions. Send your questions in here and say if you'd like your name to be changed.

Worried Mum writes:

Should I pay for private tuition for my son? My 17-year-old is very brilliant but lazy.
He is doing two maths, chemistry and sociology ASs in two months' time. He simply does not want to work. If I don't help him, he will fail. He wants to do
pharmacy and go to a top university.

My worry is if I keep helping by doing this he will never improve and if I do
not, he will fail and that will have serious consequences for his life.

Here's the life coach's reply:

Dear Worried Mum

I think that at seventeen you do have to approach this differently than you would with a younger child. He is on the cusp of adulthood, and with that comes responsibility for the consequences of his actions. If he did have the support of a tutor now, how would he motivate himself to work when it comes to university?

Has your son asked you to provide him with a tutor? Does he think this will help?

Have a quiet word with your son's teachers and find out what they think. Is he doing enough to pass his exams? What else do they think he needs to do? Very often, young people will pay much more attention to their teachers than they do to their parents. Another option could be a specialist coach who's got experience in improving teenagers' motivation – you can find some free resources on this here.

Talk to your son about why he has chosen pharmacy. Is this what he really wants, or has he stumbled down an expected path because he's so bright? Sometimes we need to engage with our passion for the end goal in order to get us through the hard work that will get us there. And if he is not really passionate about this subject, it's not surprising that he lacks motivation to get there.

You mention twice your fear that he will fail, as if this were the worst thing that could happen. But plenty of people do fare badly in exams the first time round and still go on to later success. I know you want to support your son to make the most of his capabilities, but teenagers will often pull away from whatever their parents feel is best. So in order to support him, you may have to step away and let him find his own feet.

Best wishes and good luck,


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