"I'm not good at anything"

A question about teenaged frustration:

Ok, what can I say to my son?
He is 15 and told me today he doesn't think he is good at anything.
After unschooling and encouraging him and being there etc etc etc....HOW is it I have a child who feels this way?

Don't take it personally, and also don't feel defeated, because he is only acting 15. I am just now coming out of the the first wave of this teen angst storm with my oldest dd (16). She did alot of questioning herself, us, the world, and what is her purpose?. Such heavy thinking for a young person. All you can do is keep being supportive, keep him busy, and learn to fly in under his radar to redirect his thoughts toward the postive things in his life.

Whatever his passions are...use them, expand on them, help him find activities in the community that utilize his talents. Find new and exciting things to do (some days this is hard, because nothing is exciting and they aren't interested, but try anyway).

My daughter is a gifted writer, artist, musician, web designer, and much more, but to her she was terrible at everything. She was so hard on herself, and I was feeling very helpless. She has weathered this storm, and has a better understanding of herself, and her goals in life...at least for now.

It can be very frustrating, because one minute they are professing how much they love you, and the next their head is spinning, then they are depressed, and it starts over again. :D Just remember don't take it to heart, because...This too shall pass! Meanwhile you are not alone. :D

Elaine


I have THREE teenage daughters. Ask me if I know about mood swings!

Sometimes teens need a LOT of reassurance. So just keep showing him your confidence in him at the same time that you understand and sympathize with his fears. It is sometimes harder on our unschooled kids at this age than their schooled counterparts because our kids are entering adulthood eyes wide open - they "get it" that they are moving into adult responsibilities, etc., and they are (justifiably) sometimes freaked out by it all. The schooled kids more often don't really grasp what's coming - they're just following orders, going through the expected motions. Our unschooled kids are thinking - and their thoughts can be overwhelming and scary and they can easily feel inadequate to face the future.

Help him understand that he isn't supposed to be especially great at anything - he's just entering the time of his life where he MIGHT start to focus in on some things to eventually become good at, but he has time, there is no hurry and you really hope he'll continue to enjoy his life and not worry yet about what he's "good at," but just explore all his options and do what satisfies him, for now. Some people specialize and become really good at something while they're young, but others dabble in a variety of activities and they know a little about a lot of things and that's good too even if it seems like they aren't super good at anything in particular. That will come later.

-pam


Ok, what can I say to my son? He is 15 and told me today he doesn't think he is good at anything.

After empathizing with that feeling (that is so real when he feels it)... perhaps notice the ways in which he uses his time and comment on those.

Does he play X box? Is he good at watching movies and enjoying them? Is he learning to drive yet? Does he fiddle with gadgets? Read lots of books? Listen to hours and hours of heavy metal or emo or whatever music he loves? Is he a kid with oodles of friends? Play any sports? Is he sensitive and empathetic, good at thinking on his feet, creative, or analytical?

After unschooling and encouraging him and being there etc etc etc....HOW is it I have a child who feels this way?

Sounds like being a teen to me.

Last week we were discussing some of these kinds of feelings with a psychologist. He said to us repeatedly: 16 is just so young. He's got years to sort things out. The kids in school are just following orders, but your kids are safely living their lives until they know who they are and what they want to do.

School kids go through a similar sense of loss of direction around the end of college when they are suddenly faced with getting jobs.

Julie


He's 15 and angst is natural.
Teach him that term and concept and say that the hormone storm that teens live through causes angst, but he'll feel better as he reaches adulthood.

Very few 15 year olds are "good at anything" in one way of looking at it. Few of them could make a living at that moment at something really flashy and impressive. And part of growing up is that self-reflection about "NOW what?"

But what is fun for him? Concentrate on fun and distraction and find situations where he'll see the sky and feel the breeze on his face and maybe stir your life up to where he's seeing and doing new things for a while to get him onto a new plateau. It might still be angsty, but angst with a new view.

There's nothing to prevent hormones.

Sandra
P.S.

<< this teen angst storm >>

AHA!!!

Elaine also used the words "angst" and "storm." Honest, I didn't copy.



pamsoroosh@mac.com writes:
The schooled kids more often don't really grasp what's coming - they're just following orders, going through the expected motions. Our unschooled kids are thinking - and their thoughts can be overwhelming and scary and they can easily feel inadequate to face the future.

Help him understand that he isn't supposed to be especially great at anything - he's just entering the time of his life where he MIGHT start to focus in on some things to eventually become good at, but he has time, there is no hurry and you really hope he'll continue to enjoy his life and not worry yet about what he's "good at," but just explore all his options and do what satisfies him, for now.

All good info/advice—and I've seen it in Cameron too—although brief.

Remember that he sees adults GOOD at what they do: you and your husband, the guy down the street, his mentor in his interest—most of us who are doing what we love. It's easy to feel inadequate when everyone around you is better than you! Point that out to him—and that we ALL went through a phase of beginning.

When at dog shows I try to point out to newbies that the very judge that they are freaking about showing under ALSO had his/her *first time* in the ring however many years ago. We ALL start out as novices. It's passion and immersion that leads us to get better and BE better. That judge had no more knowledge or experience than anyone else his first time in the ring (well, those that were born into dog families have a leg up, but they STILL had their *first* time in the ring! ).

As Pam said—he's *just* starting out. Most school kids don't have that feeling he's having until they are twenty-something and just out of college!

~Kelly



My heart goes out to you. I have had the same experience with my almost 15 year old son.

When I can get some perspective on it, I remind myself that adolescence is a time of lots of emotions, often extreme emotions. One sees it more often in girls, but, it stands to reason that boys go through it also.

Also, it is normal for one to feel one is not good at anything now and then. You signed your email as feeling like a failure.

Ross tends to have these feelings more when he is tired. When he is rested, he has a more positive outlook on life.

Sometimes Ross despairs of knowing what his adult work will be. It is normal not to know at this age.

Ross and I talk about all these things, and it helps us both.

I then make sure to affirm him a lot, pointing out what he is good at. It is obvious to me what he is good at, but it is not so obvious to him. I think he needs to hear it a lot.

Anita Bower



I think this is interesting, because the unschooling moms here have more of a connection with their sons and see more of their emotions then school-moms do. As Americans, boys are taught to hide their emotions more than I would suspect the average boy on this list is. That is, I don't tell my six-year-old when he's skinned his knee to "quit being a sissy, take it like a man!"

:-) Diane



I wanted to add too that I think it shows what a great open communication you obviously have, that your son would even share this with you. How many teens out there feel this way, but turn to peers, alcohol, drugs or other escapes. Your son is going through something probably just about every human does, but has the luxury and benefit of sharing it with an open-minded, kind hearted listening ear, that truly cares about him.

Kathy

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