You know your teen can handle the work, you know your teen knows what to do, yet you watch your teen fall short of meeting a certain educational goal. Many parents have witnessed this over the course of parenting their teens and many parents find it hard to endure a teen whom they feel isn’t trying their hardest. If you observe your teen refusing to do homework or making more out of an assignment than there really is, this is often a way of expressing their confusion, frustrations and at times, anger.
Under-achievement in teens can be caused by many things:
Emotional discomfort. A teen who has experienced a life changing event (addition to the family, a family loss, divorce…etc) is very likely to go through a period of educational underachievement.
High parental expectations. Many times parents put too much pressure on their teen to make a certain grade, excel in a certain subject or sport or perhaps pick a certain career path and this can have a negative impact on the teen. If the academic pressures on your teen are too strong, your teen may feel the need to rebel.
Undiagnosed learning disabilities – there are time where a mild learning disabilities is missed in lower level schooling or there could be a physical hindrance such as poor eyesight or hearing difficulty.
Peer pressure. Pure and simple, there is good peer pressure and there is negative peer pressure. Many teens feel that the smarter they are, that some of their friends won’t like them. They may feel the need to perform at a certain level to feel accepted into a certain clique of friends.
If you notice your teen becoming an underachiever, first check in with your teen to see if there is something that you can do to help. Communicate with your teen about how he or she is feeling about school overall and ask them if there are any problems.
You can then speak with your child’s teacher at school to see if there are areas where extra help would be beneficial. Many schools offer free tutoring services. There are many times that an underachieving teen has hit a downward spiral because they are disorganized and find it hard to keep up with the schoolwork and other activities they are involved in.
While it may be hard for some parents to digest, not all children are academically inclined. Even if your child isn’t a scholar, that doesn’t mean that they can’t excel in many other area’s. If you tune into your child, you can help them find out exactly what they are good at and passionate about. Letting your child know that doing their best is good enough and if their best IS a C then that is ok will go a long way with your child. It will encourage your child to try their very best and it will alleviate some of the pressures that they feel which may cause your child to rebel or shut down completely.
Many teens that are underachieving will see that it will affect their self esteem in a negative way. If you teen has low self esteem, offering them emotional and comfort will help them greatly. The best way to let your child know that you love them is to shower them with acceptance. Make sure that no matter what grades your child brings home, that doesn’t mean that you love him or her any less.
Help your teen manage his/her schedule better. Make sure that they have everything they need to stay as organized as possible. Help them to set goals for themselves as it pertains to school (grades, study habits..etc). You can even suggest that your teen start up a study group and offer to host it at your home.
The key here is to try everything that you can and to find out why your teen is not living up to their potential in school. If after working on this and tackling it from many angles, you feel you’re teen isn’t making any process, you may then want to consult a professional to see if there are some other issues causing the problems. You can seek professional support from a school counselor, doctor, therapist or clergy.
As a proactive parent we must seek resources to help our child take an interest in learning, growing and becoming independent. Being an informed parent is one of the 1st steps to ensuring your child has a brighter future.
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