My 13-year-old son has just finished seventh grade. Unfortunately, his grades started slipping this past semester. He doesn't pay attention to or read directions fully and is careless, content to slide by on minimum effort. His final grades (coming in the mail) are not going to be any good again due to carelessness and inattention.

I took away his MP3 player and iPhone and cut off cable television to eliminate some of his distractions. To motivate him, I said that everything could come back when his grades improve. What more can I do? -- Concerned


Lower grades in any subject indicate your child is having some type of problem. By nipping the problem in the bud, you could have kept your child on the path to A's and B's. Fortunately, you do have the whole summer holiday to try to help your son get back on the academic success track.

Taking away things did not work. Have you talked to your son about exactly why his grades slipped? Older children like your son may be able to help pinpoint what the problem is. Be sure to also ask him how he thinks things can be turned around.

Something needs to be done this summer. Summer school, if there is one, could be a good solution. It should help him catch up in the subjects where his grades slipped. Another possibility is a tutor or learning center. If you work well with your son, you could tutor him. Many schools will let you check out textbooks over the summer.