My Teen Hates School

What to do when your child hates school…

Struggling to get your teenager to go to school? “I hate school!” is a common complaint from kids, especially after the turbulent year we’ve just had. But what can you do when the occasional grumble about school becomes a weekly or even daily issue? Arguing about school can be tiring, stressful and relentless – for both of you. Here’s a helpful guide to help you cope with a teenager who doesn’t want to go to school.

  1. Find The Root Of The Problem

Start by figuring out what’s causing your teen’s reluctance to go to school. There are all sorts of reasons why a child might feel anxious about school, from struggling with homework or learning to falling out with friends or being bullied. Sit your teen down and ask them if there’s anything troubling them. There’s often more to it than simply hating school.

Your teen may be:

  • Stressed about exam results
  • Feeling pressured
  • Worried about falling behind
  • Being bullied
  • Feeling lonely and struggling to make friends
  • Having learning difficulties

When talking to your teen, try to listen and resist the urge to nag or judge. Read our guide to listening to your teen here.

  1. Avoid Using Threats

Using threats can be counter-intuitive, especially with teenagers. They’re more likely to dig their heels in and stubbornly reject your pleas to attend school with minimum fuss. They’re also more likely to rebel in defiance. Plus, ultimately, you cannot force motivation. Instead, focus on the root of the problem and make this you and your teen’s priority.

  1. Work Together

Once you’ve identified the root problem, you can work together to find a solution. Talk to your teen about ways you can help them and offer to bring in extra help if needed. For example, it could be a meeting with their teacher or a chat with the school’s pupil support officer. Letting your teen know you’ve got their back makes them feel supported and more able to face school.

For students who are struggling to manage their workload, you could help them work out a study schedule. We’ve got more advice about back-to-school struggles here.

  1. Praise Progress & Achievements

Acknowledge your teen’s achievements, no matter how small. Focus on their efforts and how hard they’re trying, not the overall grades. It can also help to focus on their achievements outside of school. Whether it’s scoring goals with their football team or getting a Saturday job, let them know how proud you are of their achievements. This helps to promote self-confidence and increases their motivation in all aspects of their life.

  1. Relieve The Pressure

Take a look at your teenager’s weekly schedule. Do they have too much going on? Have they got multiple clubs and activities outside of school? Your teen may be tired and worn out which can affect their motivation and energy. Do what you can to make sure your teenager’s life isn’t too hectic. Make sure they schedule in plenty of time to relax and hang out with friends and family.

Sleep is also really important. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep every night but the reality is the majority aren’t getting anywhere near that. A lack of good quality sleep can affect your teen in many ways, including:

  • Concentration and focusing on tasks
  • Coping with stress
  • Mood swings
  • Growth and development
  • Problem-solving abilities
  • Diet and general health
  • Mental health

Encourage your teen to establish a healthy night-time routine to help them get the sleep they need – click here for hints and tips.

  1. Look Out For Warning Signs

Sometimes, hating school can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Seek advice from your GP if your teen is showing several of these symptoms:

  • Listless and tired a lot of the time
  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Loss of motivation
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Changes to appetite
  • Feeling worthless
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawn from family and friends
  • Self-harming

Worried your teen has depression? Get more advice and help here. Click here for more help around supporting a teenager with suicidal thoughts and feelings.


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