Is Your Teenager Struggling In School?

Has your teen been experiencing ongoing issues in school – whether they be academic, social, behavioral or some combination? Does he or she complain that school is too hard or irrelevant, refuse to do homework or put up a fight about attending? Is your teen struggling to concentrate, organize and follow through with tasks, or manage time well? Are you feeling highly frustrated or concerned about your teen’s relationship to his or her school environment? Are you worried about your child’s ability to finish high school and get into a good college? Do you feel helpless in your attempts to motivate you teen – feeling that your input and concern only lead to more conflict? Are you wondering if what your teen is experiencing is normal or if he or she is really in trouble?

Watching your teen struggle in school – whether it be with the workload, in peer relationships or with maintaining appropriate behavior – can be a very frustrating and concerning experience. School is the epicenter of the teenage experience and in a sense, their job. It’s the place where they do most of the critical teenage work of developing personal identity and navigating a new and more complex social environment. Add to that, the demands of juggling multiple classes and teachers, managing a busy schedule and completing increasingly complicated assignments. School can be hard work. And, with hard work, often comes difficult challenges.

High School Can Be A Struggle For Many Teens

It is extremely common for teens to struggle – at some point, on some level – with school issues. Adolescence, by its very nature, is a struggle. It’s a time when teens strive toward independence and try to figure out who they are and how to be in the world. And, the school experience is a critical part of that.

While school comes easier for some teens, others need more help finding their strengths and places they can excel. Your teen may be struggling with ADHD or a learning disability. He or she may be experiencing difficulties with a bigger, broader and more demanding social environment. Or, there could be issues with time management, organization, managing a heavy schoolwork load or maintaining appropriate conduct. Whatever the cause of your teen’s school issues, an experienced and trained BPS therapist can help your teen better navigate the complex school environment.

Therapy Can Be Highly Effective For Teens Struggling With School

With the right therapist, therapy for teenagers can be very helpful. It’s a space to be heard, understood and to develop healthy and effective skills to manage relationships, stresses and the “job” of being in school. Your teen’s BPS therapist can help him or her learn how to better navigate difficult school situations – academic and social – and figure out what his or her strengths are. Identifying and learning to celebrate these strengths and seeking the company of others who also enjoy math or theater or sports can be an empowering and confidence building experience for teens. Your teen can also learn techniques to better manage time, organize schoolwork and balance work and play, which can alleviate a lot of anxiety and resistance. Psychological testing can help identify if there are any undiagnosed issues – such as a learning disability or ADHD – that may be affecting your child’s ability perform well in school. If so, proper resources and approaches can be discussed. Identifying and addressing deeper issues now can prevent a host of new problems from emerging as your teen enters adulthood.

A BPS therapist with years of experience in counseling for teen school issues will also work with your adolescent on how to better manage relationships with peers, teachers and you. Therapy can help your teen, family and your child’s teachers develop a new perspective toward your teen and their school experience. Rather than being one that feels anxious, uncertain and frustrating, a new perspective can lead to better communication strategies, a more realistic approach and even a little lightness and humor.

With help, it’s entirely possible for your teen to navigate a new way forward. Your child can feel better about his or herself and their school experience. And, by working with the right BPS therapist now, your teen can experience immediate relief as well as be better prepared to handle challenges and communication difficulties in the future.

But, you still may have questions or concerns…

We’ve tried everything. Nothing works, and I’m beginning to fear that nothing will.

What you’re feeling is not uncommon, and your frustration is very understandable. It can be helpful to picture your teen in an alleyway. Chances are that he or she is not that far off of the main road. It’s going to take a little work to navigate a way back over, but it’s entirely possible to get back on the main track.

Even if your attempts at help haven’t worked in the past, it’s always possible to hit the restart button and try again. There can be great hope in a fresh start.

And, finding the right therapist is key. In order to be successful, your teen needs a therapist who he or she can open up to and trust. At BPS, we’ll conduct a increase the likelihood of a good fit, BPS offers an online therapist directory and match your teen with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with teens and school issues and whose personality is a good match for your child’s. Having the right person to talk to can make all the difference.

Things are going okay. I’m afraid that therapy will shine a light on all the issues and make everything worse.

Do you really want things to just be okay for your child or would you prefer that he or she feels productive and successful? The right therapist can help your child explore the issues that are keeping him or her from feeling and functioning in ways that promote wellbeing and success. In therapy, your child can build confidence, increase self-esteem and hone in on what they like and are good at. Addressing school issues now will not only help your teen have a happier and more productive high school experience, but it can set him or her up for increased success later in life.

I’m afraid of what I might find out if my teen starts therapy. I’m worried that my teen might have deeper issues than I now think and that we’ll feel even more helpless.

Although it’s very normal to worry about your child, what he or she is experiencing is likely not as bad as you think. Teenagers go through all sorts of ups and downs, challenges and stresses and still make it into adulthood a little worn, but better equipped to handle the adult world.

If there is a deeper problem, however,  it’s imperative that you find out now so you can get your child the appropriate help and support needed. In cases like these, ignorance is not bliss, and early intervention can be very effective in treating a wide variety of problems.

Whether your fears are the product of the common parent ailment of over-worrying or if something deeper is at play, your BPS therapist can help to determine that and support your teen as he or she navigates the tricky teenager years. With help, it is possible for your teen to get through high school with success and build a solid foundation to draw from throughout his or her life.

To increase the likelihood of a good fit, BPS offers an online therapist directory which will help you to determine what your child’s specific issues are, if additional psychological testing is warranted, and ensure a good match between you, your child and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.

Check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and your teen with a therapist who has expertise working with teenagers on school issues.

karen-wildingBPS therapist Karen Wilding LCSW, helped create the content for this page. Karen served as the director of counseling at the September School for more than a decade and has been working with teens and their families on school issues since 1987.