After I had grounded my 15 year old son for bringing home a bad report card, I found a picture he drew with me as a devil and a picture of him (I guess) saying I Hate You and shooting the devil person with a gun. This was more than disturbing to me. When I confronted him he started crying and said it was just a drawing and he was really mad and he would never do anything like that. The next day he brought me home roses and apolized. His grades are always good, he attends an all boys Catholic High School and is very involved with school activities and has many friends. This marking period, however, several grades dropped due to a lack of effort according to his teachers. They all told me he is a great kid - but he is not doing his work. I knew he wasn't doing his school work because he had way too much free time - so my husband and I decided to just let it go until we got his report card and handle it then. He is a good kid and I have never had any problem with him - But this picture really upset me.
Should I be worried? And how should I handle the situation?
I don't think you need to worry about the picture. Your son was angry; the picture was an expression of this.
However, it would be good to speak with him in a calm, patient manner about the decline in his work output and grades. See if you can learn what he thinks about the situation (e.g., his reaction to it, why he thinks it is occurring). It may 'simply' be his devoting too much time to the social aspects of his school experience, and he may remedy it quite readily. However, there may be other reasons for the change, and only he can tell you for sure. It would also be useful to learn what the faculty makes of the decline - i.e., why they think he's changed.
When my son was a little younger than yours I too found a disturbing picture that featured someone's head with a dagger through it. There were others as well. He also had a decline in school performance and had always been a top notch student. When I confronted him about the pictures it eventually came out that he was being bullied at school by kids who thought he was showing off with his knowledge. He said it made him so angry that all he could think of was doing the things he had drawn. I told him I understood what anger felt like and that I knew he must have been very angry to have drawn the pictures. I then talked to the school counselor as well as an outside psychologist. Therapy, in his case, helped him with social issues and peer pressure and the results were improved school performance and no more angry pictures. I just wanted to make the point that in my son's case there was something behind the drawings and it was a red flag that needed desperate attention. It sure is challenging being a parent, isn't it - almost as challenging as being the child!
Here's another perspective of a violent drawing. When my son was in kindergarten he drew a picture of our family burning down in a house. Coincidently, the assistant principal happen to be a substitute teacher when this happened. She was very concerned and brought it to my attention. My initial reaction was panic, fear, etc. I spoke to my son about this. His response was very articulate. Apparently, sometime earlier in the week they were learning about fire safety. He decided to draw a picture in response to what he learned by his kindergarten teacher. When all this was cleared by my son and the adults, he was given credit where credit was due. In the end, he was responding appropriately to what he learned in class. Btw, this was the only frightening picture he even drew. Thankfully, he now draws people and places. Good luck to you, I hope this eases your mind a little.
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