You are super stressed one minute and hopping mad the next! Nothing brings on the overwhelm and mixed emotions like when a teenager starts talking about taking steps that could hurt their future. If your teenager is refusing to go to school, talking about dropping out or seemingly not caring about their plummeting grades, this can feel terrifying! For 12+ years, I have worked with hundreds and hundreds of families that have tweens and teens that are struggling with school. So I get all the mixed emotions. And I want to share 6 Mom Sanity Saving Ideas for When Teens Hate School.
6 Mom Sanity Saving Ideas For When Teens Hate School
Let’s take a bird’s eye view of some of the most common problems and their solutions. If you want more help on this topic, I deep dive into my years teaching family groups for parents and teens, to bring you very specific actionable tips in my latest book, When Teens Hate School: 10 Smart Strategies for Overcoming School Refusal here.
Why Teens Don’t Like School and What Parents Can Do!
There are many reasons that tweens and teens avoid school. Here are some common reasons why teens don’t like school and some sanity saving ideas for moms to try to turn the situation around! As you read through these, be aware that sometimes your teen may be in more than one group!
Teen Stress About School Performance Adds to Dislike of School
Correction…both parents AND teens feel pressure regarding school.
Mom, step back for a minute and take a BREATH!
Many moms describe feeling like a failure if their kid doesn’t like or “do well” in school. But there are so many reasons that students may not like school. This does not mean that we have “failed” as a parent. As parents, we may be able to tweak or change some of our parenting strategies, but give yourself and your tween some breathing room first. Stop heaping on the guilt! This will naturally help you think outside the box for your unique teen.
Talk with your teenager about if school stress is causing them to want to avoid school.
Here are a few questions to ask them about school stress:
- What is making you feel the most stress at school (grades, a class, a teacher, other students, etc..)?
- What is one thing you wish we would stop doing?
- Do you ever feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts about school?
A simple 30 minute, non-threatening, conversation can help you to really hear what your teen has to say. Be aware, often what a person leads off the conversation with is not truly how they feel. They just may feel like they have to make the situation sound even worse than it is to get your attention to the stress they are feeling.
So just because your teen threatens to “drop-out” of school or “never go to college” doesn’t necessarily mean they truly want to do that. There worst-case scenario statement may just mean that they are feeling trapped and overwhelmed. They need your help to see all the options they have available to them to make the school situation less stressful.
Let your teen talk it all out and just LISTEN! Then you all can work on the real problem together.
Bullying and Lack of Friendships Causes Dislike of School
You would think that if your teen or tween was being bullied, that they would come to you. I mean, after all, you are the person that cares about them the most.
Unfortunately, many kids will NOT tell their parents when they are in trouble. They often feel, on some level, that they have caused the bullying, so they avoid telling their parents. Kids don’t want their parents to think any less of them, so they may even hide the bullying from their parents.
If you have noticed a big change in your student, and they suddenly don’t want to go to school, you may need to talk to them. Be gentle but direct. You may wish to not know either, on some level, that your child is being bullied. But bring up the topic specifically of school relationships and bullying. That way your teen knows they have permission to tell you what is really going on.
Here are a few things to ask your teen if you are concerned about bullying:
- Is there one friend that you feel you can count on at school?
- Have any of your relationships changed recently?
- Has anyone ever threatened to embarrass you with private information you shared with them?
Unclear Household Boundaries Increases School Refusal
Let’s be real. All of us have had days, when we were students, that we didn’t like school! School is work. For some students, it is mostly enjoyable, but there are days when it is just work!
So what happens when a teen who is used to getting there way, due to lack of household rules, decides they don’t want to go to school because it is hard.
Unfortunately, I see this scenario play out ALL THE TIME!
If there has been a lack of household boundaries and a kid is used to getting their way, they eventually turn their dislike to school. And when a student refuses to go to school, parents often feel powerless to get their undisciplined teen to school.
This scenario can be one of the trickiest one to solve. Now, remember when I said earlier that just because our teen doesn’t want to go to school doesn’t mean we are a failure as a parent. But sometimes, we can see that a parenting strategy is not working. We have to be brave enough to change it. If you have discovered that you have been rescuing your teen, too much, then it is time to reassess.
Share with your teen that from now on you will be try to expect everything from them that you know they can do. Your teen is amazing and can accomplish so much, so we don’t want to send the message that they can’t handle life!
Start small on your household rules, stick with them and gradually reteach your teen that your “yes” means “yes” and your “no” means “no”.
Learning Styles Can Make Teens Hate School
As I touched on earlier, different learning styles can affect how teens view school. Sometimes you have a kid that has trouble learning by sitting still in a classroom. Other kids face learning challenges, so learning to read is a challenge for them.
With out oldest, learning in a classroom brought some challenges. Since he is my bonus child, I entered his life later. And I could see that he no longer felt confident in school due to some of the challenges he faced.
When our daughter started school, I noticed some of these same learning challenges. And since I had a view into the future, I was determined that we would do whatever it took for her to learn at her pace. We had to take longer at certain school stages. And while reading took her a little longer to grasp, I love that now she is obsessed with reading and has no big remembrance of that struggle.
If your student doesn’t like school since they have some challenges or they learn better when they are working with their hands, then give them opportunities to bloom in other areas!
Here are a few ideas to try to encourage your teen to enjoy learning:
- Take advantage of experiences that encourage your teen’s interest. If your teen loves woodworking, then go to a museum or festival that highlights that interest.
- Explore career centers or local trade schools that would help teach your teen more of what they want to know.
- Grab my NEW book, When Teens Hate School: 10 Smart Strategies for Overcoming School Refusal, for tons of more ideas on helping your teen see all that ways that they are smart and that education can be enjoyable!
Lack of Organizational School Causes School Avoidance
When teens stay up til 2am, morning comes pretty darn earlier. And when kids spend all afternoon and evening watching Netflix, they are not going to want to go to school when there is a major test for which they are completely unprepared.
Sometimes a teen doesn’t like school because they are so disorganized. They know that they should be better prepared or to be ready to go in the morning but it is not happening.
If your teen lacks organizational skills, start with the household first. Does your teen have a good morning routine. If morning is a disaster back up and review the evening routine.
Here are a few things that a good school evening routine should include:
- Concentrated study or review time. Teenagers typically have projects and upcoming tests, so there needs to be time that they are focused on studying, without distractions
- Preparing for the next day. Have teens pack their backpack, make their lunch, or pick out what they are wearing the next day.
- Wind down time. Finally, teens need a few non-screen activities to do right before bed. This helps signal their bodies that it is time to go to sleep.
Once you have some basic household routines down then you can focus more on creating better school organizational habits. Students in my family groups often mention that they avoid school when they feel unprepared. Help your teen break the cycle of staying up too late and not studying. When they know that they are prepared for the day, it will be easier to get them out the door for school.
Grab the Ultimate Guide to When Teens Hate School
#6 on my mom sanity saving tips for moms is to grab my new book, When Teens Hate School: 10 Smart Strategies to Overcoming School Refusal. In this post, I’ve given you some quick actionable tips to get you started on problem solving why your teen doesn’t like school. But I would love to really show you how to get your teen on the right track with school.
Ditch the school stress and the awful school mornings spent yelling!
If you are so done with stressing constantly about your teen that doesn’t like school, When Teens Hate School:10 Smart Strategies to Overcome School Refusal, is the help you need. For 12+ years, I have taught groups to students and families struggling with truancy and attendance issues. And I know that school avoidance is a big problem for many families. And there are so many reasons for the issue. Parents need real help to figure out the true reasons their teen doesn’t like school. And to learn how to get there teen to the finish line.
You are not alone! Don’t lay awake at night freaking out that your student may not graduate.
Instead, start right now …
- Learning tips to understanding your teen’s dislike of school.
- Getting crystal clear on what school success looks like to you.
- Focusing your energy on ways that will actually help your teen.
Go here to grab all the details about what is included in my new ebook, When Teens Hate School: 10 Smart Strategies to Overcoming School Refusal.