My 16-year-old son has never caused us to worry about his progress - academically or socially. He always seems fully engaged in school life and is a member of several sports teams and clubs. However, we are told he is very lethargic in class and is sleeping more at weekends. Should we be concerned? Teacher Jake Burnett replies: There is nothing wrong with showing concern for our children. After all, they are looking to us to do just that. As we nurture them and prepare them for adulthood, they will need our support and guidance along the way. However, it is never quite as easy as that, as there is no such thing as a perfect guide to teenagers. My point is that one of the most important things to do is treat everyone as an individual yet know that sometimes broad guidelines can also be helpful. It sounds like your son is actually getting too involved in too many sporting activities. A good starting point would be to see exactly how much time he is spending on them. It is likely that he will consider himself mature enough to make choices for himself, but to help make things really clear to him it would be worth logging exact times over the course of a week where he is having to exert himself physically. It would also be good to assess how much time he should be spending on projects or school work when he is at home. He is at a vital point of his life academically so it is likely he will be under quite a bit of pressure from school. If it is difficult to get these details from him, it is often quite easy to find out a school's expectations of students from their website or your son's diary or planner. If all else fails, contact the school directly. Another useful point of comparison is with other students of his age. If you know any of your son's friends' parents, a friendly conversation might help you to get an accurate gauge of what might be too much for him. It is vital that you make your son aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. In the end you might have to have some conversations with him which are quite difficult because you'll ultimately be asking him to sacrifice some of the activities he enjoys. You can explain to him that just because he has to stop one of these activities for now it does not mean that it is over for good. You should support him in making sensible and mature decisions so he can work out a careful work/life balance and let him know that this is one of the most important things we often have to work out as adults. Of course, this is also one where we often fail too, so the earlier he is able to make such decisions the better it will be for him. Adolescents of any age need plenty of sleep, good nutrition and a balance between how they use their energy. You want to avoid your son 'burning out' so it is also useful to encourage him to get to sleep at a regular time each night. Any time after 11pm is really too late for him to be getting a good night's rest. But rather than impose this on him, I suggest you make your expectations clear to him - just as you ensure he is eating a balanced breakfast before he goes to school. There are, of course, many different factors as to why he might be more tired now than normal. He could be going through a growth spurt or having to work especially hard on some extended school work or revising for tests. In extreme cases, although this certainly does not appear to ring true for your son, drug abuse or excessive time spent on the internet late at night can add to any child's levels of fatigue. I would urge you to be clear and honest with him about why you are concerned.