By Guest Blogger Kori Mackall, Director of Communications, The Piedmont School & John Yowell Academy
Autumn is finally here and the leaves will be changing soon. Many schools are approaching the end of their first grading period. The honeymoon and excitement of the beginning of the year has started to wane in most households. The “fall funk” is a real thing for many, including our kiddos. Not much is quite as exhausting as the battle to get a child/children up and ready for the day. Most parents would agree this is potentially one of the most stressful parts of their day, no matter if they have toddlers or teenagers. However, nothing is quite as heartbreaking or defeating as battling a child who sabotages getting ready in the morning because they hate school. It can be hard for parents to endure what feels like a never-ending dialogue of despising school/teachers/classes/homework/peer drama/etc.
While loathing school is at times a rite of passage in adolescence, it should not be an ongoing saga. So, what is there possibly to do when you are ready to pull your hair out and cry (or scream) into your morning cup of coffee?
Look For Patterns
Be sure to work some strategic questions into your daily routine. Ask simple, open-ended questions that don’t appear to pry too much such as: “What was the best part of your day?”; “What was the worst part of your day?”; “Who did you sit with at lunch today?” Over a little time, look for patterns in your child’s answers. Take note if their “worsts” tend to fall around certain times of day, subjects/teachers, peers, etc. If you are noticing repeating academic mentions (Ex.: “I failed my math test”; “I am never going to pass English”; “Mrs. So-and-So just doesn’t like me), it is time to schedule a parent-teacher conference. If your child responds that everything is bad (cue your typical preteen/teenage response) and they give you very few details, try responding with “Tell me one good thing that happened in your day, no matter how small.” Taking this approach can help your child try to focus on the positive parts of their day, no matter how small or insignificant.
Don’t Dismiss “Friendship Drama”
As children develop, they discover new interests and learn to navigate the social climate of their schools. Changes in friendships are common. While these changes are not unusual, if your child seems to hate school more than before, but typically tells you they enjoy certain subjects or teachers, try to focus in on friendships. Try to understand that the social world of adolescence is not what it once was. With social media and personal electronic devices, a child’s social world follows them far beyond the school walls and often feels impossible to escape. If you notice your child not wanting to be around friends they have had for a while, try to dig into why. If your child won’t talk to you about it, you may want to consider examining their social media and texting friendships and online activity. It may come as a surprise to some parents, but online friendships and interactions are even a concern in the elementary years when students interact through games such as Fortnite or Roblox. The best thing to do when changes in friendship are the cause of hating school is to help coach your child through understanding that these changes, or walking away from a friendship, are sometimes okay. If online activities seem to be the root of social concerns, help limit and monitor their interactions. Consider it an opportunity for your child to learn that these kinds of changes are a part of life as they start to forge their own path and help them navigate the best and most appropriate ways to get through.
Consider Your Available Allies
Sometimes we parents just can’t do it all. As tough as that is, sometimes we have to know when to seek additional help. Start by considering assistance from your child’s teachers or school counselor. Every educator wants to give each student the individualized attention they need, but knowing your child is struggling is sometimes enough to put it on their radar to look for specific triggers.
If all else fails, consider seeking advice and assistance from your pediatrician or other medical professionals. There may be underlying concerns that you may not be able to address without assistance, such as depression, anxiety, or underlying/undiagnosed learning disabilities. These medical professionals can often help find the root of your child’s disdain for school and help provide guidance.
Here at The Piedmont School, we often see students come in who have felt defeated by their previous experiences simply because they learn differently than their peers. If you child is struggling in school due to attention deficit disorder or a specific learning disability, please visit our website, www.thepiedmontschool.com , to learn more about the great things happening at The Piedmont School or give us a call (336) 883-0992.
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