A teenager’s primary job is usually to attend high school and get good grades. During the adolescent years, however, there are many factors that can lead to school problems. As a parent, you might find that these issues cause poor grades, a lack of social interaction, avoiding school, physical symptoms, and more. Read on for some of the school problems that teen might face, as well as tips on how to solve these issues.
Learning Disabilities or ADHD
Many children with learning disabilities, ADHD, or processing disorders are diagnosed during elementary school. Sometimes, however, a student manages to do well enough in the early years of school so they are not evaluated for learning problems. Once they get to high school though, people with undiagnosed and untreated learning disabilities and other disorders often find it impossible to keep up. If your son or daughter is having trouble staying focused or can’t do the work that their teachers expect them to be able to do, having them evaluated for one of these issues can make a world of difference.
If your teen has already been diagnosed with a learning disorder, you might find that his or her needs have changed. This is also the case with ADHD. While many adolescents can take the same dosage of medication that they took during earlier childhood, some require more medication. Others grow out of their ADHD and might be able to stop taking their medication. This is something to discuss with your teen’s doctor.
Some teens who avoid going to school aren’t trying to avoid the schoolwork; instead, they’re feeling anxious about the social interaction that comes with school. Teens with social anxiety are often afraid of:
- being judged
- looking stupid
- being embarrassed
- accidentally offending someone
- being the center of attention
Any or all of these are possible at school, so those with the disorder might refuse to attend school, might skip certain classes, and might neglect to do required presentations and reports.
If your teen is often trying to get out of school due to stomachaches, headaches, or other vague physical symptoms, social anxiety could be to blame. Your teen’s doctor can evaluate him or her for any physical causes of these symptoms and then refer to a mental health professional if warranted.
Mental Health Disorders
Various types of mental health disorders often begin during the teen years. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are two of the most common mental health issues that crop up during adolescence. Some teens develop eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder during the high school years. Any of these can cause a drop in grades, a loss of interest in school, and other school problems when it comes to academic achievement. The good news is that intervention and treatment in the form of therapy and/or medication can usually help. Take your child to their physician, who can refer them to a mental health professional if necessary.
Drama With Peers
Teens tend to have some mood swings and hormonal fluctuations. If you’re the parent of a teen, this is no surprise. In addition to these obstacles, teens are also finding out who they are and searching for their places in the world. All of these factors together can lead to fallouts with friends, romantic breakups and other types of peer-related drama.
The best thing you can do is listen to your teen. Most of the time, these rather dramatic fights and falling-outs resolve themselves or fizzle out. Occasionally, adult intervention is needed. Sometimes teens simply decide not to be friends anymore, and other times, a friend duo will make up and continue on with their friendship. Either way, these spats can lead to your teen wanting to avoid school or not being able to focus on their homework. Encourage them to carry on and do what needs to be done, as this too shall pass.
A time that parents, teachers, and even law enforcement might need to get involved with peer group trouble is if bullying occurs. Bullying involves repeated incidents of intimidation, it might include physical harm, and it generally includes a power imbalance. This could mean that the bully is older or physically larger than the victim. The power imbalance could also be social; for example, the bully might be popular or have a higher social standing than the victim.
Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that takes place via the Internet or electronic devices. Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, text, SMS, and other online platforms are all possible vehicles for cyberbullying.
Both traditional bullying and cyberbullying are crimes. Your school district should have a policy in place on how bullying situations are handled. In addition, depending on the specifics, your local law enforcement might get involved. A teen who is avoiding school or otherwise not succeeding should be asked about whether they are being bullied. Parents should also be aware of the signs since many teens will not want to volunteer the information.
Substance Use, Abuse, or Addiction
One final problem that some teens will have that can affect grades and academic motivation is substance use, abuse, or addiction. Many teens experiment with alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, some will go on to become addicted to these substances. As a parent, it helps to let your teen know how you feel about underage drinking and any type of drug use. Keep your prescriptions locked up or otherwise away from where your teen and his or her friends can access them. This is particularly important if you take pain medication that can be abused. Finally, know where your teens are and what they are doing. If you do suspect drug or alcohol abuse, ask your teen’s doctor about recovery programs. The earlier a teen can get help for an addiction, the better.
What to do About School Problems
If you see a sudden or gradual decline in your teen’s grades or your teen is trying to get out of going to school, act promptly. Talk to your child and also to his or her guidance counselor about school problems your teen is having. In some cases, it might be a matter of your teen being in a class that is too advanced. In others, a learning disability, bullying, mental health concern, or drug use might be to blame. Getting to the bottom of the problem sooner, rather than later, can boost your teen’s chances of getting back on track.