Teen School Issues - Hilo, HI - Stephanie Dodge, PhDAre You Concerned About Your Teen’s Dropping Grades?

  • Is your son or daughter struggling academically?
  • Does he or she seem uninterested in studying or reluctant to go to school at all?
  • Is your child having a hard time staying organized or keeping track of what he or she needs to do, even in subjects that he or she used to love?
  • Are you concerned that your child will fail a class or be unable to graduate?
  • Do you want to help your child do well in school and succeed in his or her future?

If you have noticed a change in your child’s attitude toward and performance in school, you may be worried about what dropping grades mean for his or her present and future. Maybe your son or daughter never struggled in school before, but high school has presented an unexpected challenge. Or, perhaps your child  did well until senior year, and now he or she seems listless and unmotivated. Your child might be suddenly doing poorly in all of his or her classes, even the ones he or she used to love and excel in.

You may have received calls from your child’s teachers or school counselors telling you that your child  is at risk of failing a class or losing the ability to participate in sports. Maybe you are worried that he or she won’t graduate on time, or your family will have to change your plans so that your child can make up work in summer school. Your child might seem unmotivated, forgetful, irritable or down, and you wonder why he or she doesn’t care anymore. When children struggle in school, it’s not uncommon to feel frustrated, especially if the change is new or sudden. You may feel that your child is old enough to fulfill his or her responsibilities without needing reminders. Or, you could be tired of feeling as though you are guiding your child through every step, while he or she still doesn’t do homework or pay attention in class. When you try to talk to your child, he or she might shut down and refuse to communicate with you, leaving you to wonder what is wrong and how to help him or her get back on track.

When a Teen Is Struggling in School, There Are Often Underlying Causes

Almost all children face some kind of school issues, whether they are with a particular class, a certain teacher or something else. However, if there is a significant change in your child’s ability to succeed in most of his or her classes, there is likely something significant going on. It is very common for parents to suspect that their child is being defiant or lazy. Or, maybe you think that your child could have undiagnosed ADHD. However, it is very rare to discover ADHD in the teenage years, especially if your child has done well in school up until this point. If your child is older and his or her behavior has changed, it is more likely that he or she may be struggling with anxiety, depression or the aftereffects of a traumatic event.

Junior high and high school are challenging times. Your child might be feeling anxious about doing well or navigating social issues. If your child is a high school senior, he or she may be feeling down about the high cost of college and wondering what his or her future will hold. Or, your child may have experienced a disruptive or traumatic event that is making everything in his or her life more difficult. Your child might also be exhibiting more serious behavioral issues, such as skipping school or experimenting with drugs or alcohol. If your child seems disengaged, distracted and unenthusiastic about everything in life, seeking out an experienced therapist and accurate diagnosis is key. Once you uncover what is happening for your child, you can get the support and guidance he or she needs to feel better and begin doing well again.

Counseling Can Help Your Son or Daughter Work Through Teen School Issues

If your child is struggling in school, early intervention is key to helping him or her address the underlying issues contributing to academic problems. As an experienced therapist, I can talk to your child and help him or her identify the thoughts and feelings that are making it difficult to excel in school. I offer a safe space for your child to share thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. And, I can help you and your child improve communication skills so that you have a better sense of how to best support your child.

If we discover that your child is experiencing anxiety, depression or the aftereffects of a traumatic event, I will meet with your child one-on-one to help him or her work through complex feelings and thoughts and develop ways to mitigate symptoms. I can help your son or daughter develop tools to cope with challenges and manage life’s difficulties. If we do discover that your child has undiagnosed ADHD, I can help you work with your child’s doctor and school so that he or she gets the appropriate help and support. If your son or daughter is exhibiting more serious school issues, I can work with you to get the resources you need and offer you support while you navigate the school system and other agencies/organization that may become involved with your child.

Regardless of your child’s specific issue, I can help him or her learn how to better organize his or her work and time. Your child can develop techniques to self-motivate, even when facing an uninspiring task. I can also help your child break big assignments down into manageable chucks so that he or she feels as though each step is possible. Learning these important skills can not only help your child in school now, but also serve him or her well in the future.

During counseling for school issues, I can serve as a support for both you and your child. You can learn effective ways to help your teen, and your child can rediscover the happy, excited self he or she was before and begin to do well in school and in life again.

You may believe that counseling can help with school issues, but still have questions or concerns…

My child won’t go to therapy.

Even if your child resists therapy, you can still come in and gain important insights, resources and tools. I can provide you with tips on how to encourage your child to join us. Sometimes, a child just needs to hear advice from someone who is not his or her parent. Even if your child still refuses, you can develop effective tools to help your son or daughter navigate school issues.

Can my teenage child have ADHD if it wasn’t diagnosed before? Will he or she need medication?

While it is possible that your teen has undiagnosed ADHD, there are many other things that can cause concentration problems. Finding the right diagnosis is key. If we do discover that your teen has ADHD, I will work with you and your teen’s doctor to decide the best course of medication. However, it is much more likely that, at his or her age, your teen is struggling with something else, such as anxiety, depression or trauma.

I don’t think we are facing general school issues. He or she only struggles in one subject.

If your child is only having difficulties in one area, such as math or spelling, it is possible that he or she has an undiagnosed learning disability, such as dyslexia. I can provide you with special testing and an evaluation to help determine what is going on with your child. If your child does have a learning disability, counseling can help him or her cope with low self-worth or feelings of depression and frustration, and I can help you advocate for your child in the school system.

You don’t have to navigate your child’s academic struggles alone. I invite you to call (808) 747 3445 for a free 15-20-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you have about school issues and my practice. 

Other Information:

National Institute of Mental Health: The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Bullying

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: School Refusal