Younger brother emotionally affected by attending too much tuition, require advice

This query comes from the sibling of a student:

I am actually asking on behalf of my little brother who is presently a secondary 3 Express student...he has been failing quite a few subjects including A Maths and Chinese since the beginning of this year, so my parents decided to force him to attend multiple tuition sessions every week which has gone on for a while. Honestly his grades haven't improved much, yet he is constantly throwing tantrums and yelling at our parents for overstressing him. Once he even skipped school just to hang out at a shopping centre. What would you suggest we do? Really at our wits end. :(

The Response:


Its heartening to learn of your genuine concern for your younger brother.

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to change the situation as it is now.

Your brother is at an age range where boys are attempting to gain some level of independence as they discover more about themselves and their environment. Thus, significant behaviour changes are not uncommon for youths his age. For myself, I too began to slip in attendance from my once-ardently loved uniformed group CCA, due to my desire to focus more on A Maths in Secondary 3.

It is not a change of behaviour that we're concerned about, but of the direction the change is steering the individual toward.

For your brother's case, I would seek to identify the various factors/events that could have significant influences on both his new and now-discarded interests. A popular theory in counselling psychology is of the view that once the greatest contributing factor has been identified and addressed, the other factors will take care of themselves in an integrated manner.

My personal advice at this point:

• Take the initiative to participate in activities with your brother and encourage him to open up about what's affecting him. Guys open up more easily via an activity e.g. road trip; a bicycle ride. Do not attempt to rush things, ultimately trust takes time to build.

• Don't corner him with too much activities (e.g. school work) if he's currently detesting them. Instead, grant him opportunities to experience controlled consequences of not keeping up with his work, such that he will eventually be the one taking initiative to come to his parents and school for help. Instead of forcing food down a horse's throat and make it abhor nutrition altogether, allow it to starve for a bit and consequently seek pastures to graze on its own.

• Engage a competent FTSC (Full time school counselor) from his school, to better understand your brother's psyche.

Do keep us updated on your brother's progress. Cheers.

Duncan Ang

(Senior Councilor: May 2013 - December 2020)

Answered On 2 July 2018