Having your teen tell you that he wants to drop out of school can be terrifying. Gone are the years when your influence over him held total sway and despite the laws requiring his presence at school while he is still a minor, there is not much you can do if he chooses to leave classes regularly or simply stops caring. While you may still see your son as a child, it is important to remember that he is on the cusp of becoming an adult and yelling and making rules may not have the same effect as approaching him rationally to talk things out. Chances are, he is prepared for you to behave dramatically over his decision and making him part of the conversation could be your ticket to figuring out a solution.
Here are some steps to help you talk it out:
- Get to the bottom of the issue – The first thing you need to do is figure out what the problem is. Does he resist school because he is getting bullied? Is he stressed about the educational goals expected of him? Have you ruled out a learning disorder or ADHD? Figuring out what is leading to his defiance and decision to drop out is the key to taking further steps.
- Determine his expectations – Your teen may have no plan beyond being done with the boredom of school, or he may be anxious to get out and start doing his own thing. Either way, you need to guide him toward what he thinks the next step is.
- Give him the facts – Even if your teen happens to have a good job at the moment or assumes that he will simply learn a trade in order to get by, he should be aware of the statistics involved in entering the workplace without at least a high school degree. He is less likely to be hired anywhere and more likely to get the bottom of the barrel when it comes to wages. Even a steady, decently paying job can be lost and he is at risk for looking for employment in a market of much more qualified adult candidates. In addition, the likelihood that most trade programs will accept him without at least a GED is low.
- Talk about compromise – To be fair, dropping out of high school doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world, education-wise, especially if he is willing to compromise and simply study for his GED or attend an alternative high school where he can participate in a classroom setting at his own pace.
- Be supportive, but not financially… – Let your teen know that you will no longer give him free room and board if he chooses to leave school. Determine the amount you would charge him for the rent of his room and board as well as his car expenses and make these numbers clear before he makes his decision. Without this step, you are feeding the idea that he is independent and doesn’t need an education as well as removing any incentive he might have to ever move out. It’s important to approach this solution in a matter of fact way, rather than making it a threat. If your teen takes you up on it, he will quickly see how quickly a paycheck can get eaten up by regular monthly expenses, much less the extras that teens like to have. This can be one of the most effective ways to get your son to see the value of his education.
For more information on how you can handle your defiant teen, please visit our site at Sundance Canyon Academy.