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Advice regarding helping our son adopt better sleep, nutrition, and academic habits...


You may not be able to offer any specific advice on our issue, but I have to bring this up – we are at our rope’s end.

Our son, R___, is having a tough time focusing on his academics. He is 16, a junior in public high school, Port Orange Florida. He is in the IB (International Baccalaureate) program. Over the past year and a half his grades have steadily decreased: his current reporting period (4 week) GPA is 1.7 a solid “D.” He is an avid an accomplished soccer player, but at the rate he’s going he will be on academic suspension. His outlook for college is at best, not good – despite the fact that he definitely seems to want to go to college. (We are beginning to wonder if the IB program is just too hard for him, although says he really wants to do it.)

We’ve just subscribed to OPS. We’ve read your online material, in particular advice to one parent regarding a similar situation in which you made the following points:

(1) Let him do his own work – that’s his job, his teachers are his bosses.
(2) His sleep habits are poor – he stays up late – often past midnight, as late as 1:00. Wakeup is a chore taking 3-5 attempts.

Adding to this is the following:

(3) He has very poor nutrition habits. My wife has tried may times to prepare healthy meals – he will have no part of them, but drinks energy drinks, eats bagels and cream cheese, pizza, an occasional ham and cheese sandwich, never vegetables.

(4) He is hearing impaired – his acuity in the higher frequencies is significantly impaired. He has aids, but refuses to wear them (we suspect it may be a question of vanity, and refusal to acknowledge the impairment).

We have tried urging him to do his homework. That has not worked. Recently we have tried incentivizing him with money for good performance – his grades have just gotten worse (down to the current GPA).

My wife tends to have an authoritarian parenting style; I tend to have an indulgent style – so there is polarization in our approach – which may be making things worse.

Based on what I’ve just read (your advice to a parent in a similar situation minus the hearing and nutrition problems) we will likely follow your advice, and

(1) Remove the TV from his room
(2) Do the one reveille call in the morning – perhaps even with a real bugle.

We are also considering restricting his social life (going out on weekends, but no weekend sleepovers), but we would like your opinion.

Bottom line: If you have ANY specific advice regarding helping our son adopt better sleep, nutrition, and academic habits, we would SINCERELY appreciate it.

Many thanks in advance for any specific help,

Desperately yours,



Hi H.,

Re: sleep.

Many parents allow their children to stay up late on weekends to watch TV and play video games...

BIG mistake!

...then to make matters worse, they allow their children to sleep in on Sat. and Sun. mornings...

Another BIG mistake!

Why? Because it takes until the middle of the school week (i.e., approx. Wednesday) for the child to make up for sleep deficits (i.e., they get only about 4 -5 hours of sleep Sunday night since they have to get up on Monday morning for school...

...then the weekend comes, and the cycle starts all over.

Don't make these mistakes.

Also, he should only get one wake-up call. You are clearly taking the responsibility AWAY from him by nagging him to get up. As long as you nag -- he'll sleep.

Re: nutrition.

You have bigger fish to fry than this one. This should go in the "pick your battles carefully" file.

Re: academic habits.

I think you know where I stand on this issue since you've already read the recommendations.

Final point: I'm a bit concerned that you are rushing through the program. The academic biz is in Session #4 / Week #4 -- you just signed-up yesterday!

Rushing things WILL be the kiss of failure - I promise.


My Out-of-Control Son

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