Your teen announces they hate school. The first couple of times you let it slide. Every one has a bad day. But now they are beginning to sound like a broken record. What are you going to do? At some point during their education nearly all teens will decide they hate school. While this may be a transient thing that blows over within a day or two it could also turn into a long lasting issue if not dealt with.
Some signs that a problem is occurring are headaches, stomach aches and trouble sleeping which can be stress induced. They may fake illness or miss the bus frequently. Or they might just lay it on the line and say “I hate school.” Other obvious signs are tardy slips, detention, falling grades, and poor attendance. No matter which of these signals you that a problem exists, it’s time to take action. Making positive steps toward a solution will help you and your teen avoid a potential crisis.
First of all take them seriously. Of course teenagers can be melodramatic and blow seemingly small incidents out of proportion, but the magnitude of their feelings and problems are very real in their world. Sit down with your teen and seek clarification. Chris Cortellessa M. Ed suggests that you have your teen make a list of all the things they enjoy about school as well as all the things they dislike. This will help bring some balance into the conversation and allow you to locate any problem areas.
At this point you may determine that your child is being bullied, has a problem with a teacher, is worried about keeping up with class work or is bored by it. They also may have self esteem issues, have had a disagreement with a friend or been part of an embarrassing incident.
Once you’ve gotten to the root of the matter you can work with your teen to find a solution. Resist the impulse to step in and make it all go away. You need to work with your child as a team to find an answer to their problem. Soon enough they will be on their own and this is a valuable opportunity to help them learn problem solving skills. Make suggestions regarding solutions and allow them to add their ideas as well. Come to a mutually agreeable resolution.
Some good ideas may include assertiveness training, tutors or study buddies, lessons or classes outside of school in their area of interest, involvement in clubs or extracurricular activities or teacher conferences. It’s also a good idea to set aside special time each day to really listen to your teen share their daily news. Sit down after school or recruit them to help with dinner and talk.
Bobbi DePorter of Quantum Learning Systems suggests that you remind your teen of their future goals and how school will help them reach those goals. She says “Attitudes change when students truly discover ‘what’s in it’ for them.”