How to Help Your Teen See Academics as a Priority

Most parents are proud of the fact that their child is doing well in school. However, when a teen ignores academic responsibilities or makes other facets of life a priority, parents might feel frustrated and even angered by this. Some teens simply don’t care about school. They might find their friends, social engagements, creativity, or hobbies more important. They might flat out say to their parents, “I don’t care about school,” or “getting good grades isn’t going to help me.”

If your teen is putting school responsibilities at the bottom of their priority list, there are some steps that parents can take to facilitate strengthening their teen’s relationship with academics. Here are a few suggestions to consider:


1. Your teen might be blowing school off for a reason. Do your research with other parents and teachers to find out if this is the case. Most teens recognize the importance of getting good grades – it can lead to getting a job and a source of income. With this in mind, a teen might want to blow school off because there is a problem without wanting to admit it. Perhaps there is a bullying problem and that bully attends the same math class as your teen. It may be that fear is getting in the way his or her success. If it’s a social concern, seek support through administration at school, other parents, or friends of your teen who might have information about the social situations at school.


2. Explore any mental health concerns. One of many signs of mental illness in teens is a decline in academic performance. If your teen is communicating that school is not important to them, it may be because they just don’t have the stamina to face school responsibilities. Teens are vulnerable to mental illness because of the many changes they are going through. They might experience depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and/or ADHD. You can have your teen undergo psychological testing to determine whether there is a diagnosis to treat. If there is in fact a diagnosis, then this might be the cause of your teen’s dismissal of school and/or any poor grades your teen has been demonstrating lately.


3. Talk to your adolescent about his or her career and academic goals. This can build excitement about attending school for academic and occupational reasons. Your teen likely makes the connection that good grades means a successful future. However, they may not know what they want out of life. They may not see the point in working hard in school if they don’t know exactly which road to take in their career. You can support your teen by talking about their likes and dislikes, have them work with a guidance counselor, or encourage your teen to participate in extra-curricular activities and try new experiences.


4. Set realistic goals with your teen. It might be that school simply feels too overwhelming. Perhaps your teen has other responsibilities, such as hobbies, sports, and family tasks. Try to understand how your teen is feeling about school and then work together to set some realistic academic goals. Plus, if he or she knows that you will be there to provide help, that too will be helpful.


These are suggestions for providing support for your teen who may be dismissing school as unimportant. Yet, as this article suggests, there may be an underlying reason behind your teen’s attitude. Exploring the problem and having an honest conversation with your teen about school can help.