My daughter hates learning anything. Please help me !!

by kristina

My daughter hates learning anything.

She sits all day on the computer on MSN and she can't even write properly.

She is 15 years old and she gets d's and e's in everything.

The only thing she hasn't failed in is HPE/Sport because she is very skinny.

She is nearly anorexic.

She always puts on makeup and wears nice clothes but she cares about nothing else.

She hates school very very much.

It's not that she gets teased cause she has lots of friends but it's cause she just doesn't want to learn.

She plans on becoming a model.

She told me herself that she wants to be a model for 3 years and then retire and juts live in an apartment and that's it.

She has no idea that that is just stupid.

She doesn't listen to anything I say.

She is always in her room either sleeping, talking to her friends, at a friend's house or watching movies.

She doesn't even know how to speak properly.

I am having serious trouble with her.

I cannot get her to listen to me at all.

Me and her father are divorced and when she goes to her father's house she just stays on MSN and talks to her friends.

She rarely ever eats and doesn't like going out.

She is very annoying to live with but I love her and as I look at her everyday I don't see any future for her.

She needs help.

Thank you, kristina, for your sharing your difficulty.

There are two things I notice, first, your attitude, and second, that your inquiry came through my learning theory page.

This situation appears to be upsetting to you and that is what comes through loud and clear.

It must be difficult to see someone you love so in need of help without hope for a future.

Given that you are upset, if I just talk about learning theory, then you may continue to be upset about your daughter's life choices and continuing to be upset is not helping either of you.

So, I am going to give you some advice, but from my learning theory perspective and it will mostly be about dealing with yourself, not just your daughter.

If you have the courage to work on your own attitude, then I am confident that your relationship with your daughter will improve.

Here's how my learning theory applies to what you described.

What we are looking for are the power structures, exchange processes and patterns of consciousness.

There are two power structures to notice in this situation, one is a fantasy and the other is real.

It appears that your daughter has discovered that she has the power to decide for herself what to do with her life but you seem to be under the impression that when she makes what you consider to be such poor decisions she should not have that power.

The fantasy of having power over your daughter is a mental structure that you have used to measure her goals and actions.

Based on that power structure you see your role in the relationship is to express your motherly care and concern by judging her behavior against your ideas of what is right and good, and then telling her what to do to be a better person.

So your first challenge is to get on board with the fact that your daughter is right about her freedom to make her own decisions, in fact, she has always had the power to make decisions that you would judge to be stupid and/or unhealthy.

The real power structure is based on the fact that all individual human beings have, to paraphrase Victor Frankl, “that ultimate freedom to choose their own attitude in every situation.”

Your daughter has become unconsciously aware of that freedom.

She has that power to decide her own attitude no matter what you do.

But, she does not necessarily have the power to become a wealthy super model who can retire after only a three year career.

We have no way of knowing whether she does or not, until she has applied herself to the challenge of achieving that dream in earnest.

If you can actually make peace with these two facts, that she has the power to makes her own choices and that no one has any way to know what she is capable of, then you can change your reactions from panic to genuine compassion for her situation.

When we can approach another person in a relationship with a sense of genuine compassion, instead of a sense of righteous judgment, then we can change the unhealthy exchange processes that we engage in together.

I suspect that currently there is a high level of emotional exchange, probably with a fair amount of negativity back and forth based on your description.

Shifting the emotional exchanges is going to be the most difficult part of the process, in any case.

The challenge of shifting exchanges is difficult because in the process of relating to each other we, human beings, develop a high degree of sensitivity to the hot buttons that generate emotional energy.

Pushing each others buttons is an addicting way of getting a lot of energy to move between us, but, addiction does not lead to patterns that serve our well being.

The trick is to maintain your own composure enough to disconnect your hot buttons but continue to maintain your attitude of genuine concern and engaged compassion.

When you achieve that balance you will more fully express your motherly care and concern.

Your daughter has to know from your behavior (not your words) that

  1. you "get it" that she has the power to make her own decisions and
  2. you also have and use your own power to make decisions about your life (which may mean setting clear boundaries with enforceable consequences about key behaviors that are fundamental to good health in your household.)

After you have achieved a state of compassion and begun to achieve a better balance of emotions in your exchanges with your daughter you can also address the behaviors that concern you.

But now, from the compassionate and respectful place that you have worked to achieve, the approach that will be effective is one of accepting her choice of goals and checking in with her about her plans for how to actually achieve them.

The strategy is to non-judgmentally hold up a mirror on reality for your daughter by persistently working backward from the final result that she wants to achieve (retiring after 3 years of modeling) step-by-step to the choices she is making today.

If she can connect all the dots from the choices she is making today to the final result that she intends to achieve then you should be proud of her, not undermining her through complaints about her behavior.

But, if your characterization of her is even roughly accurate, then she probably does not realize what it takes to become model, let alone a super-model who will be fabulously wealthy.

She has set as her goal something that is extremely rare and getting it will likely require an unusual level of dedication and self-discipline.

The question is whether her choices reflect that dedication and self-discipline or just reflect her day dreams that will evaporate as soon as a true sacrifice is required.

This is just an overview of a change process that you will need more specific resources to truly address.

In the parenting section of this web site I have collected excellent resources by parents, for parents.

There you can find the kind of support you need to connect your dots from achieving a positive mutually caring relationship with your daughter to the choices you are making today.

Here are two resources that I recommend you look at first:

Bonnie Harris who is a parent and parenting expert who has written a book about what to do when your children push your buttons.

She has a variety of resources including books and a discussion group online.

If you feel that heavy duty support is needed, then you can also check out Dr. Lehman's Total Transformation Program.

His program includes a network of specialists who can talk with you on the phone directly to coach you through specific challenges. (If by chance Dr. Lehman's program is not yet on the Parenting page, check back in a few hours because I am about to put up a link to his program.)


Don Berg

Comments for My daughter hates learning anything. Please help me !!

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Sep 30, 2023
Need more info to help
by: Don Berg

16-yr old Anonymous;

Glad to help, but I need more information to make sense of what's going on. Sometimes it's school life, sometimes it's home life, sometimes it's the larger situation.

There is nothing inherently interesting or good about studying so there's no reason to believe that you SHOULD be interested in doing it.

But, depending on your situation there might be reason to believe that you should either do it anyway or figure out a legitimate way to do something more interesting with your time.

If nothing else, Google the Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Lewellyn.



Sep 30, 2023
Why is education important?
by: Anonymous

I m 16yrs old I don t understand Why I m not intérested in studying I m so confused HELP ME PLEASE!

Sep 04, 2023
Hates Learning? Are You Sure?
by: Anonymous

My granddaughter just came to live with me after a very chaotic life with her father in another state. She too, hates learning. My idea on that is they don't hate learning; they are afraid of failing at learning. They do not want to be noticed when they fail. They have not learned yet, even though as parents we need to ensure that they do, that it is absolutely okay to fail at something. It is okay to be mediocre. Most of us are. It is the effort and the joy of learning that we need to teach them. Excelling will come with each little grain of confidence that builds with each little tiny success. Work on the desire to try with her - no matter what it is. If she is good at googling, then notice it! Ask her to google something for you!

May 28, 2023
She doesn't hate learning
by: Lethe

Your daughter does not hate learning; she hates being told what she should think and be, which are both unenforceable anyway. She is teaching herself all kinds of things, just not the stuff you value. I have found that kids and young adults will do a lot of the right things if you play on their self interest.

Okay, so she wants to be a model (or pro basketball player, or actress, or rapper or whatever). She seems to like the internet, and she is social, so a good thing to do with her is to tell her that if she brings you valid research on the profession and a coherent game plan for getting there from where she is and also a local angle to getting into what she wants to do, and it is feasible, then you will back her as far as she wants to go.

Make standards for all this so that you both know and agree upon what is valid and what is not, and she will learn many of the things she needs just doing that one project. She can enlist her friends to help, but they have to follow the same rules--real research not wiki or chat room wisdom, game plan, and a local angle. These professions where you just magically go to NY or somewhere to break into them attract many people; when they actually research them, they figure out on their own that they may not be right or that they may want something in a similar field, just not that.

Another good thing to do with this is for you to do some research on your own and compare notes fairly frequently. Some of the emotional problems may take care of themselves if you are engaged in a common endeavor and she sees that you really are on her side in life. That is a difficult age and part of their job as teens is to figure out how to get along without you. Many of the things you listed about her are pluses, not minuses. She dresses well, she is social, she uses the internet, she dreams big, and she likes to think for herself.

You can fight her every step of the way, or you can give her the tools she needs to be independent. Part of that means gradually giving her more freedom--freedom to do what she is supposed to and the hard one--freedom to screw up and take the consequences. Good luck.

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