Most parents hear their children say at one point, “I hate school.” As education is their main job, and likely their key source of stress, it is not unusual for teens to express their dislike of school. But problems come up when that dislike goes from the occasional complaint to constant comments on how bad school is and escalate to truancy.
Sometimes it takes the right kind of school—like a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens—to help teens break out of their hatred for schools. Before you reach that point, you may want to consider the 6 reasons why your teen may hate their school, and how you can fix it.
1. Grades Are Already Low
When a teen has already been struggling in school, it can be very discouraging that they have to plod through school almost every day. Also, often if there is one subject a teen is having a hard time with, their other classes are impacted negatively.
As an adult, you likely know that there are ways your teen can recover from poor grades, whether it’s doing make-up assignments to retaking the class during the summer. But your teen may not understand that there are options that can help them recover.
2. Friction Between Teen And Teacher
Another reason why a teen may say they hate school is due to a teacher. Sometimes, it can be due to the teacher being a tougher grader than the teen is used to, or there may be other issues that are less obvious.
Talk to your teen about why they dislike their teacher. It may be sourced in an off-hand comment the teacher made, or the teacher may be actively picking on your teen. Once you have heard your teen’s side of the story, contact the teacher to set up the meeting. Do your best to be non-confrontational and be prepared to find out that your teen may have lied and there is another cause behind the friction between your teenager and their teacher.
3. Undiagnosed Learning Disability
For teens with undiagnosed learning disabilities, trying to learn the way that neurotypical students learn can be nearly impossible. These issues can cover a range, from Auditory Processing Disorder to dyslexia. As your average public school teachers often aren’t trained to recognize learning disabilities, they may not make the proper accommodations for your child.
Even when a teen gets their learning disability diagnosed, it is often a struggle to enforce the need for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the child. As many school districts lack the funding to provide the assistance needed, a teen can be left to struggle and continue to hate school.
If your local school district isn’t up to helping your child, you may want to consider a boarding school for teens. At a specialized school, your teen can work with professionals who are trained to work with teenagers who have a variety of specific learning needs.
4. Unbearable Bullying Situation At School
An unbearable bullying situation at school can cause your teen to hate going to school. Unfortunately, bullying is still quite common, and not all educators and administrators take it seriously. Even if they do take it seriously, it may just make your teen’s bullies more circumspect in front of authority figures. If you suspect your teen is being bullied, don’t be afraid to ask them outright.
Keep in mind that cyberbullying is common as well, and although it mainly happens outside of school hours, it can lead to isolation, confrontation, and embarrassment in the classroom environment.
However, some teens can be ashamed of being bullied and refuse to be a tattletale. You can email your teen’s teachers to inquire if they have seen any signs of bullying and see what they have to say. Also, be sure your teen knows that you are there for them and willing to do what it takes to help them, whether it means changing schools or another course of action.
5. Too Many Responsibilities
Sometimes parents forget that their children can become burned out with too much on their plates. With 8 hours of school, sports, music lessons, and other commitments, some teens are far busier than any adult without any downtime to unwind and simply relax.
If your teen constantly complains of being tired and hating school, sit them down and have a serious talk about their schedule. By empowering your teen with the ability to take some control over their schedule, they are far likelier to be happy with their remaining commitments.
6. Struggling With Mental Health Issues
Teens are under immense pressure, constantly being told that by eighteen years old, they need to choose the college and major that will lead to their future careers. Add romantic relationships, peer pressure, and developing bodies, and you have a pressure cooker of intense feelings. Essentially, in their minds, their entire future needs to be laid out by the time they are eighteen.
Parents know that it isn’t true, but that stressful message is what teens are often told over and over at school, making teens resent school as the stressful place it has become. This high level of stress can trigger mental health issues ranging from severe anxiety, depression, to issues like difficulty with emotional regulation.
Being supportive and providing access to therapy can be incredibly beneficial, as teens can learn tools to help support their mental health.
So, the next time that your teen tells you that they hate school try to engage them in a conversation and find out why your teenager hates going to school. Their real answers may surprise you and give you the ability to help your child succeed.