How do you help someone who doesn’t want to help him/herself?

I’m the kind of person who becomes very quiet when I get mad, like really mad. Mostly it’s because I’m trying to process what’s going on, and I’ve always believed that whatever words that come out of your mouth in the heat of the moment can be mean and horrible.

But for the first time today, I actually flared up in class. I wasn’t angry though, I was upset and disappointed. 

Some would know that I teach tuition over the weekends – this is my 10th year teaching actually. It’s not just to supplement my income; I genuinely love connecting with these kids and I am passionate about helping them become better – both academically and in their personal lives.

Since last year, my student has basically given up on himself. He was lucky to pass his N Levels, but he was scared that he wouldn’t be able to do the same for O Levels.

He had this fear/insecurity but he just wouldn’t do anything about it.

However, no matter how many pep talks I give, and try to my show utmost patience in him, he would be extremely reluctant to do his work/revise his notes. 

There were so many times in these two years that I really want to give up. But I know I really shouldn’t.

It has been a rough few weeks for me, so maybe it’s the hormones messing with my head. After chasing him at least four times in a span of two weeks, and still not seeing his work… I snapped.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it.

How is it that someone can be so unmotivated and unwilling to help himself?

You know those moments in a movie when you see someone commit suicide and they bleed to death slowly in front of you? That’s how I felt – worried, helpless and extremely upset.

But, what can I do to help? I’ve tried cajoling, encouraging, scolding him and even getting his sister to sit in and revise with him, all to no avail. 

I was at my wits’ end.

I broke down as I was telling him off, explaining to him how disappointed I was and how I didn’t know how to help anymore. I had to turn myself away because I was choking up wtf.

Very drama I know.

That’s when he broke down too, he apologised and said he knew he didn’t do his part. After class, he sent me a message apologizing once more and saying he understands where I’m coming from.


I know I’ve done my best, so let’s hope he’s really come to his senses and would start creating a better version of himself now.


Olivia L.

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