Is your teen always saying that he hates school?
Does he complain about his teachers and classmates, and about how “useless” the lessons are?
Or maybe he complains that the people in school are “fake”, and that it’s hard to make friends?
If so, as a parent you probably feel concerned and frustrated.
You want to help your teen, but whatever you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked.
Given that I work with students – the majority of whom are teens – for a living, I know how common it is for teens to dislike school.
Nonetheless, this is still an issue that must be addressed.
There are many powerful strategies you can employ to help the situation. In this article, I’ll outline 15 of them. (Download the free bonus below to learn five more strategies.)
Let’s get started.
1. Don’t assume that your teen is being defiant or rebellious
As children enter the teenage years, they crave autonomy. They are also forming their identity, all while their bodies and brains are going through drastic changes.
As such, teens often exhibit rebellious behaviour.
But don’t assume that this is the only reason your teen tells you she hates school.
Many times, there are other issues at play, e.g. feeling overwhelmed, struggling to keep up with schoolwork, bullying, fear of exams.
2. Think about what you’ve been doing that may have contributed to the problem
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I frequently nag my teen?
- Do I always talk about school-related topics?
- Do I talk as if my teen’s hobbies are a waste of time, or that they’re merely a distraction from her schoolwork?
- Do I compare my teen with her friends, cousins or siblings?
- Do I overemphasise the importance of performing well in school?
- Do I frequently force or coerce my teen into doing schoolwork?
- Do I sign my teen up for classes or programmes without first seeking her consent?
On their own, none of these behaviours will result in your teen hating school.
But in combination, they’ll likely cause a power struggle between you and your teen.
Over time, your teen may develop even more negative emotional associations with school.
3. Use active listening techniques when talking to your teen about the issue
When you talk to your teen about why he hates school (and when you talk to him about other topics too), use active listening techniques such as the following:
- Give your teen your full attention
- Don’t multitask
- Don’t interrupt your teen while he’s talking
- Encourage your teen to keep talking, e.g. by saying “go on” or “tell me more”
- Empathise with your teen
- Seek to understand how he is feeling
- Don’t judge
- Don’t moralise
- As far as possible, don’t provide unsolicited advice
- Occasionally summarise what you think your teen has been saying and reflect it back to him, e.g. “It sounds like you feel as if your math teacher doesn’t explain the concepts well, so you dislike math.”
By using active listening techniques, your teen will be more likely to share with you what’s troubling him. [Read more…]