When Teens Struggle With School

What does a parent do with a teenager who needs constant prompting in their school work? "Did you study?" "Is your homework done?"  

When should a parent stop the prompting and when should the teenager take responsibility? Should a parent let their teenager fail a test, class or grade to learn his or her lesson? Well these are complicated questions, this has got to rank as one of the most difficult issues parents face today. The consequences a teenager would face if his/her parents didn't bail him/her out seem to be disastrous. 

First of all, if your teenager is not acquainted with taking responsibility in his/her life up to this point, this arena is a tough place to start. This is why I coach parents to start the process of introducing real and age appropriate responsibility early on so when the child becomes a teenager things like keeping up with homework and assignments is not a shock. In this case i think you need to schedule a meeting with your teenager. This meeting is intended to present the reality of the path he/she is on. You must clearly explain that study, paying attention and staying organized are HIS/HER responsibility. You must inform your child that you will gladly help when asked but they must ask. This forces them to "own" their responsibilities and bring you in when there is a challenge they can't seem to overcome. This could mean they ask for organization help, reminders, etc. All of that is OK, because they have verbalized the need for help revealing an attempt at being responsible with their school work. 

Consequences are very important when it comes to learning appropriate behavior. As our children mature they must learn what it feels like to bear the weight of responsibility for their actions. As far as grades are concerned you would be wise to remember that generally speaking, grades tell little of the educational story. Your goal is to ensure that your child learns - the education of our children falls on parents more than anyone else! If your child shows diligence and good study habits, etc. yet still struggles with grades I advise taking the emphasis off of the letter grade and evaluate the effort your teen is putting forth. If the grades suffer because of laziness or irresponsibility then you must bring some type of consequence to help correct the behavior that led to the bad grades. 

I'm always cautions regarding grades because some students simply test well and get good grades with little effort. Other students may be working their tails off and struggle to get average grades. The individual child must be considered. My parents watched this difference very wisely when i was growing up. My older sister is a genius and excelled in school and currently holds a Masters degree. I however struggled in school all the way through college yet today I hold a Masters degree. We handled school very differently but the truth is we are both smart and were both able to advance our education. I advise parents to evaluate responsible study habits more than grades. I understand grades are a reality but an over emphasis on grades can demoralize a struggling student and even create unhealthy perfectionism among high performing students. When we monitor our teenager's study habits and effort we are addressing our child in the right category - training. If you parent according to grades you will get the the effort it takes to get the grade or demoralize the student who just can get there. If you parent according to best effort you train a child to give their best regardless of who recognizes it. Not to mention you will be cultivating a work ethic that will open more doors of opportunity than any transcript.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments.
I hope this makes sense!

Posted by Andy Savage at 2:42 PM
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