Maybe the first semester wasn’t the best for your child this school year. Lots of things can get in the way of doing well in school. Just like adults who may have difficulties with a co-worker, a rough workload, or depression and anxiety, teens also can be suffering from similar ailments.
The difference is, adults have the life experience to know it will pass. Teens don’t have the same insight.
If you have a child that had previously done well in school and their grades have fallen, there are things you can do to help them.
1. Talk with them with a listening ear. Leave your judgements at the door. Allow your child the time to be heard. Validate their feelings and struggles. “That must be hard.” “I hear how overwhelmed you feel.”
2. Problem solve. Give them the opportunity to come up with their own ideas on how to pull up their grades, deal with their peers, or manage their emotions at school. Ask if they want some feedback or ideas.
3. Help them to set 1 or 2 realistic goals. You want the plan to work and to build a feeling of accomplishment in your child. If you tell your teen they need to get straight A’s in all their classes when they got C's and D's before, this can feel unmanageable to your teen. Failure is likely to ensue.
4. Create objectives. Write out or discuss how they are going to reach these goals. A daily schedule, reminders in their phone, setting up a calendar. Help them to get organized so their is room for success.
5. Let them take the lead. Since you have been a parent for a long time, you may know just what they need to do. Your child may even arrive at an idea that you have been telling them for ages. But please don’t steal their thunder. Teens are a hundred times more willing if they think it is their idea, not yours.
6. Use rewards to keep kids motivated. We get paid to go to work and ideally love what we do. We have motivations. Kids needs motivators too. If you are really trying to change a behavior or pattern, daily rewards prove useful. Computer time, phone time, family time (maybe?!), earning points towards getting something they want at the mall.
7. Notice them. “I notice you working hard on things.” “I notice you doing your homework each day after school.” You don’t need to go on and on. In fact, your teen may hate that. Pick up on their cues. One sentence may be enough.
8. Offer help. “Can I help you in anyway?” When you get feedback regarding how annoying you are being, head for another room with grace. Avoid comments about how ungrateful they are or mumbling under your breath. Just be proud your teen is getting it done.
With my knowledge and experiences, I can help my child be successful.