Rolling with your teen's resistance at school
Are you a teacher or a parent with a highly capable and intelligent child whose motivation
seems to have simply disappeared? Or perhaps they’re still working hard on their homework
and studying, but they don’t turn in their homework? It’s an incredibly puzzling experience –
why would a child stop being motivated or complete their homework but choose to get a 0 on
Something we forget about teenagers is that they are ALWAYS evaluating themselves next to others and next to what they produce. In school, the evaluation of one’s work can translate to evaluation of one’s self-worth. To avoid the shame that comes with the chance for a negative evaluation, a teen may choose to not participate or not turn in assignments as a result.
Here are some tips that might help your child or teenager overcome this pattern:
1. Focus on the process rather than the outcomes:
a. Get curious about your child or teenager’s experience! Ask questions about
school and their studying process, from a curious place, not a judgmental one.
Ask about the teachers they like, the classes they like, what makes these things
likeable? Or what makes the classes or teachers they don’t connect with well
b. Focus less on the grade or outcome, this may be the source of stress they are
working hard to avoid.
2. Determine if there is a problem to be solved or coping to be implemented
a. There may be a need for intervention or changes, and that is completely valid.
You may need to find out if there’s something occurring that is preventing your
child or teenager from going out for their sport or activity or turning in their
homework. Is there a bully in class that the teacher is unaware of? Are their peer
issues going on that your child or teenager doesn’t want to confront when
he/she joins a certain club or sport? Does he or she need more skills around time
management or organization? If so, there is help and there are solutions!
b. If there is no “problem” that can be solved, it may be a matter of implementing
some skills around emotion-focused coping. Could your child or teenager talk to
a friend or a teacher to help them de-stress? Could they use deep breathing or
mindfulness in class to get present? Is there something they can do while in class
to help them feel more safe or comfortable? A counselor is an excellent
supplement or resource to teach your child or teenager these skills!