Guest Expert

Help My Teen is Falling Behind!

When your teen is falling behind in school, beyond just focusing on the schoolwork that is not getting done, Guest Expert Elizabeth Hamblet encourages parents to engage your kids in a "metacognitive" way. It's important to figure out what work is overdue, but you also want to get your kids thinking about what's going on for them – about what might be getting in their way, and what might help set them up for success. In coaching language, she is inviting parents to "get curious."

It's Important to Assume Best Intentions

While it is frustrating when your complex teen falls behind in school, it is not uncommon, and it helps to assume best intentions when it happens– that is, presume that your teen is struggling, not lazy or unconcerned. Then you can ask questions that lead to success, according to Hamblet, like, "How does it feel for you?" Would you like to avoid going to school feeling uncomfortable? Or would you rather go feeling uneasy all the time?"

"The trouble is," says Hamblet, "some of our kids don't know what it feels like to feel comfortable."


This interview moves into an interesting discussion about the difference between procrastination and avoidance. Hamblet reinforces what parents report frequently, that rewards don't always work, especially for teens who don't want to be "bribed" into doing something. But giving them a sense of what's in it for them can help them find a way to buy-in to their own participation.

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Raise Your Child's Self-Awareness

And that may start by helping our kids understand what's difficult for them in the first place. Hamblet discusses many ways to raise kids' self-awareness, such as by appealing to their intelligence, helping them see what works and what doesn’t, encouraging them to test out different approaches, and more.

When your teen is falling behind, you may ask questions like, "do you prefer to start with the work you like best? Or the work you don't like as much?" (likening it to eat your veggies first before you get to the good stuff.) Hamblet also reminds us that any improvement is a step forward, and deserving of celebration. You'll find  strategies about finding the solutions in the successes, and so much more in this 25 minute interview about what to do when your teen is falling behind in school.

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