Do you feel like you are always on your teen about one school issue or another? School problems can be acting out in class, not paying attention, not completing homework, chronic low grades, and getting too many phone calls from the school administrators (check Teen ADD/ADHD) With the rise of the personal cell-phone, relationships have become more complex for teens. A new set of social skills is needed to navigate the conflict, rivals, and bullying that your teen experiences. I have heard teens discuss how they are very distracted by social “drama” and their grades suffer. Some teens have trouble getting to school because of heightened social anxiety, lack of motivation or just plain boredom. Others feel like school is a waste of time and is really not going to get them what they need in the future. Still others feel like they have to do so well in every aspect of academics and extra-curricular activities, that they become frozen in anxiety (you may want to see teen anxiety & depression).
DO ONE OF THESE SCENARIOS DESCRIBE YOUR TEEN?
If so, there is help for them and you. Most often, these scenarios are not significant enough issues to seek professional help. If these are only isolated events, it may be that a teen is just having normal adjustment problems. However, when a teen has trouble for over 2-4 weeks continuously, it may be time to start looking for a therapist.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO MANAGE YOUR TEENS’ BEHAVIORS ON YOUR OWN
Frequently, the school guidance office can assist in curbing a school problem before it becomes unmanageable. In general, parents who work with the school and develop a plan, which is consistently reinforced at both locations, have better outcomes with their teen’s behaviors.
Other times, the school may suggest psychological testing to assess a teen’s need for enhanced school support services. This can be very helpful, especially when a child has a learning disability, an emotional disability or another condition that warrants extra time, extra space, or unique conditions for your child to maximize his/her learning potential. The school typically call these 504 plans or IEPs (Individual Educational Plan). Just a note, a parent can request psychological testing from the school at any time, the request just needs to be in writing, and delivered to the CSE (Committee on Special Education) office or the guidance office. The school then has 30 days to take action. Many school do a wonderful job providing enhanced services. Several schools even have unique programs that can give your teen alternatives better suited to their particular needs.
WHAT CAN COUNSELING OFFER YOUR TEEN?
I find that most teens want to do well in school. They want good grades and to be successful in school activities. It is still socially desirable to do well in your classes. However, many teens I have seen are confused about why they are not doing well, or do not have the tools or resources to function at their best level. Counseling offers a unique setting where the teen can discuss in confidence their problems at school. They can dig further into the issues that cause them not to do their homework, do poorly on exams, or have reccurring behavioral problems. Teens generally improve their success rate at school after seeing a therapist by improving their self-assessment skills, problem-solving techniques, and developing enhanced coping skills. The coping skills can be used with social conflicts, getting to task with homework, avoiding problematic behaviors. Often, we work with the school plan and the parents to strengthen the teen’s choices for success.
Another benefit of therapy is it typically affords the opportunity for the teen and parent(s) to “get on the same page” with a plan of action to address the problems. Frequently, parents tell me it was so helpful to have a “third party” in the room to help them negotiate the disagreements.
NEXT STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR TEEN’S SITUATION:
- Talk with your teen’s school counselor or teachers.
- Discuss with your teen if they feel like things are getting so difficult that they may be open to talking with someone confidential about it.
- Find a therapist in your area who has experience working with teens and their issues.
- Or call/text Young Counseling Services in Victor, NY at 585-444-1808 for a phone consult and/or set up an appointment for you and your teen to discuss possible solutions to the issues at school.