What to Do When Your Teen Won’t Go to School


by on September 25, 2010

in Parenting Teens, School Days

Teens go through all kinds of stages and phases. Some harmless, like dying their hair a weird color. Some a little more long lasting. If your teen doesn’t want to go to school, it might be a stage, or it might be there is a problem. Either way, not going to school has long term negative effects, so here is what you should do:

1. Make them go anyway. It stinks, and you are going to be the bad guy, but make them go. Missing school can result in even more problems, like getting behind academically, needing to take summer school, not being able to participate in extra-curricular activities, etc. So, even if you have to carry them into class and sit with them (or just threaten to), make sure they get to school. There are a few times you can make exceptions, but they are rare.

2. Either ferret out the reason why they don’t want to go, or ask them and hope they give you a real answer. Usually when a teen doesn’t want to go to school it is because they are having a problem socially, academically, or in their love life. There might be another reason, but it usually boils down to one of these three options. So, figure out which one it is for your teen. This will help you know what step to take next.

3. Give them advice on solving the problem that is making them want to miss school. For example, if they are struggling academically, you could help them find a tutor, set up a study schedule, and take them in after school so that they can use on campus resources, and talk to their teachers for the extra help they might need.

If you support them, there is a better chance of them addressing the real problem, not just ignoring it or pretending like nothing is wrong. If it is a friend problem, it can be a lot trickier. So, one of the best things you can do is help them feel good about themselves, who they are, and what their strengths are. You will also want to help them see a wider view of their life then the microscopic spec that is their high school social life. While they may retain some of their high school friends throughout their entire life, most people’s closest long term friends are the ones they make in college. This does not mean high school should be about getting through, but your teen should not make every fight with friends into something of earth shattering proportions either.

Kids get burnt out once in a while just like adults, so make sure you know your teen well enough to know if you should let them have a skip day, and just let them take a minor break so that they can go back refreshed and with a better attitude.

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