How to Help a Teenager Struggling in School

When your child is struggling, your first instinct may be to help them, hold their hand, and guide them. Unfortunately, not all problems can be fixed with a hug and an encouraging word or two.

When your teenager is having a hard time in school, there may be several causes that need to be addressed. Oftentimes, professional intervention is required to understand the problem at hand and offer help.

Why Is Your Teen Struggling in School?

There are limitless reasons a teenager may be struggling in school. A decrease in school performance could be linked to learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mental health conditions, substance use disorder (SUD), bullying, and much more.

In addition, someone can experience more than one of these issues at a time. Teenagers may not feel comfortable opening up about such issues with their parents. Not only do they not want to admit that they are struggling, but they may feel ashamed of their struggles.

Teens are at a vulnerable stage in life when a lot of anxiety and stress can impact their overall well-being. This can make it difficult to balance their family life, social life, education, sports, and other activities. You want your child to do well in school, but it is vital to put attention to all aspects of your teen’s life. School should not always be the priority.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Adolescence is a crucial period for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits important for mental well-being.” Often when mental health issues, learning disabilities, or other problems are addressed, school performance improves.

Recognizing School Struggles

Some signs your child may be struggling in school include:

  • Being secretive: If your teen is quiet when asked about school or homework, they may feel ashamed about not performing well. They may leave the conversation, change the topic, or ignore you.
  • Irritability: Most teens can be irritable, but irritation and excessively argumentative behaviors are not the same. Being more difficult during the school week and calmer on weekends or holidays may signify an issue at school.
  • Lack of focus and energy: When your teen’s energy levels sink and they seem withdrawn from other activities, the reason could be school troubles.

How to Help Your Child With School

As a parent, you play a vital role in your child’s well-being. Your involvement and advocacy are what help guide them through life. Since a huge part of their lives is school-related, you should stay active in their progress.

Remember, they may not want help and reject your inclusion. Teens are developing their individuality, maturity, privacy, and independence. While being involved is crucial for your child’s growth, being too overbearing can put unnecessary pressure on them.

Help Them Make Right Decisions

You want your child to be set up for success in all aspects of life. The ability to make smart and healthy choices doesn’t come from someone else making them for you. Work with your teenager as a team to address their struggles in school instead of forcing them.

Talk to Your Teen

Talking to your teen sounds easier than it is. Let them know you are concerned about their performance and discuss it. Ask them to explain so you can understand, then work together on solutions. Be sure to explain why you are concerned and why their performance in school is important.

Make a Schedule

Look at your teenager’s routine. Are they spending too much of their time at their job or with hobbies or sports? These activities are important for overall happiness, but make sure they aren’t interrupting time that should be committed to their studies. Work with them to prioritize their time as needed. You can even dedicate hours in the evening for school work, so that doesn’t take over either.

Continue the Conversation

Make sure their progress in school is an ongoing conversation. Ask them what they are struggling with and what they feel confident in. Celebrate their successes, no matter how small. This will boost their self-esteem and keep them motivated.

Stay Involved

Stay involved in school activities, their health, and their social life. Naturally, teenagers want some privacy, but you should be aware of their behaviors and activities to some extent.

Access Resources

Your child’s school may offer before- or after-school tutoring, one-on-one help, or group study programs to help them gain more direct attention and focus on their studies.

Create Downtime

It is so important that your teenager is resting, enjoying their life, and getting enough sleep and nutrition. Make sure that, with their focus on school, they are relaxing enough. Too much stress will not only lower their energy and performance but can lead to mental health problems, substance use, and more.

Speak With Teachers and Counselors

Speak with their teachers or school counselors. You can include your child in these talks and see if their teachers have noticed them withdrawing from other students, sleeping in class, or any other odd behaviors. These can illuminate the problem or at least point you in the right direction for more information or a diagnosis.

Get Help

If you believe your teenager is struggling with their mental or physical health, reach out to their doctor. Discuss changes in their behaviors, moods, physical activity, and school performance. A professional can guide you on where to go next for tests, therapy, or anything else.

When your teenager is struggling in school, you want to do everything in your power to help them succeed, but sometimes it isn’t that simple. You can remove them from sports teams and sit with them as they do their homework, but when the cause of their performance issues goes beyond a lack of focus, you may need more help. At Havenwood Academy, we help teen girls improve school performance and mental health. We prioritize their mental health care and individualize their treatment to meet their exact needs, as success in academics is a vital part of our treatment plan. Our program focuses on care and compassion with a focus on educational goals and progress. With our help, your child can thrive in all aspects of life. Call us at (435) 586-2500 now for more information about how we can help. 


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