How to Tell if Your Teen Has Trouble in School

Teenagers are never short of drama, but learning to discern between a little normal angst and a real cause for concern can a be a lifesaver for your child, and your family.

Paying attention to the warning signs, and more importantly – intervening as early as possible – might be the only way you can take control of your child when he or she thinks their lives are spiraling in the opposite direction. Look for these basic signs to see if you really have anything to worry about.

A change in their crowd. Sure, friendships come and go, particularly as your children grow into more independent creatures. Gone are the days of playdates, and suddenly, you no longer have a say in who your child is befriending. Falling outs or changes in friendships are not as crucial as the type of friends your child is choosing these days. Are they still showing interest in things they once loved? Or have they become apathetic, or leaning more towards the habits of their new peers?

A decline in academic achievement. One of the biggest signs that something may be going on in your teen’s life is a sharp drop in grades. Some subjects are bound to be more challenging than others, but if your once good student suddenly starts showing signs of failure, you might want to look into what may be causing this lack of interest. It could be the normal stress of teen life, or perhaps they are over committing to outside activities. Whatever the reason, it needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

Withdrawal from family life. Older kids need space, and it’s normal for them to want to learn or be on their own for periods of time, particularly if they have younger siblings. However, if your teen is completely withdrawn from the family, or shows a negative change in attitude towards you or their siblings, it may be a sign they are suffering from depression. Part of growing up is learning when to ask for help and lean on those who love you, but often teens become of a mentality that they must handle everything on their own.

Use of alcohol or drugs. This one may seem obvious, but it’s not always abused the way one would assume. Teens may be exposed to drugs that are more easily attainable, like prescription narcotics that are found right in your own home. If you notice a sudden irritability, paranoia or a need for quick cash, these are all signs your child may be substance abusing under your nose. Always keep prescription pills hidden in a safe place, and be aware of how many there are left at all times. This should also apply to any alcohol kept in the home.

Finding a way to make your child feel like it is safe to speak with you may feel like a challenge, but it is entirely possible to keep problems from growing out of hand by noticing the warning signs early. If you need help, try a program like a resident camp for troubled teens, or for more extreme cases, a military camp. 

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