Few Ways In Which You Can Help The Child Get Back On The Track
Witnessing your child’s dropping academic performance can be stressful for any parent. During the teen years, your child is going through various amounts of changes. They are developing physically and are even going through mental and hormonal changes. Although a child’s academic scores are just numbers and one shouldn’t be taking it too seriously, but the paradox of the situation is these numbers are somewhere important in deciding their future. Their marks highly influence the college they would get into which inturn decides their prospects of finding a job and living a financially stable life.
The reason why a child might be under performing doesn’t necessarily suggest that your child is not smart enough or is not able to grasp what he is learning. There have been numerous examples of children who have performed very nicely in the past but suddenly their grades seem to be dropping.
In fact, a sudden drop or a continuous case of achieving a low score can be a sign of some other underlying issue. Like previously mentioned, during the teenage years, your child experiences various changes, sometimes these changes can be stressful and as a parent, you will have to figure out what is troubling your child. Teenagers generally don’t communicate what is troubling them to their parents, they like to hide their troubles and concerns, but dropping grades can be your signal to some underlying trouble in your child’s life.
Here are a few reasons that might be affecting or troubling your child and influencing his academic performance in a negative way.
1) Emotional Distress
During teenage years, with all the physical and psychological development, every child experiences emotional distress. They might have experienced their first heartbreak, or are unable to make friends. They might be having doubts related to themselves and can have serious self-esteem issues. All these problems can take away their attention from their school and studies.
2) Lack of Sleep
Is your child getting enough sleep? Teenagers with their newfound freedom tend to abuse their sleeping patterns. They generally try to juggle too many things at a time and end up compromising on sleep. It can also be possible that they might be over-stressing themselves and in turn, can’t fall asleep until very late in the night.
Teens also tend to stay awake late at night watching movies or playing games or hanging out with friends. The entire concept of one looking cool because they stay awake till late night is damaging to their development.
However, many times, teens are not able to sleep because they are going through some emotional distress. The lack of sleep can cause various physical and mental problems. It can also increase irritability in kids and decrease the level of concentration. Sleeping for less hours can also affect the memory retention capacity of the brain. All these factors influence the child’s academic performance.
According to a study authored by Fred Danner, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky, insufficient sleeping hours can cause a lack of motivation in students. It can also cause many behavioral problems in students.
According to the research, hours of sleep during a school night positively correlated with the student’s GPA and sense of motivation. Lack of sleep can also cause or aggravate depression in students. It is also important to note that not only the duration of your sleep but also the timings of your sleep plays an important role.
That is, sleeping and waking up at the same time (having a regular sleeping schedule) is also very important.
Bullying in the teenage years is more common than you might think. Bullying can seriously affect a child’s perception of self and cause various mental traumas. Teens often try to hurt, humiliate, harass, or expose or harm other teens in different ways to establish their superiority or in their language “their coolness” or “their swag” over others. A child who is bullied on a regular basis can develop multiple personality disorders and self-confidence issues. Bullying can have long term damaging and self-esteem effects.
According to research, bullying can have a very long-lasting and damaging impact when it takes place in the adolescent years of a child. It can be a very stressful and traumatic experience for a child (for that matter anyone) and chances are the side-effects of bullying are seen in the child’s academic performance.
Bullying can make a child lose focus. It can also push the child towards depression. Bullying can make a child question his/her capabilities and this lack of confidence often translates to low academic scores. Teens sometimes turn to negative habits to cope up with this trauma and can go further away from their academic goals. So if you witness your child’s grade slipping away instead of going fist first at them, make sure they are not experiencing any emotional turmoil.
4) Family Issues
Teenagers who come from broken families are at higher risk of not performing well at school. They are more sensitive to all the issues and fights going on in the family. Teenagers also have a tendency to blame themselves for the problems between their parents. This emotional trauma is too much for a child to handle.
Clearly, this can make a child lose focus, which can, in turn, show up as poor grades. Many times parents don’t realize that they might be emotionally abusing their children, not being available for communication, invalidating their feelings, not taking their opinions into consideration or making them feel that what they say is not important, making them feel that their problems are stupid, etc can make a child have psychological issues that can take their focus away from school.
5) Bad Influence
Teenage is the age when the child’s behavior is highly influenced by the kind of company he/she is keeping. The influence of parents on decision making reduces and that of peers increases. This is also the age when they are prone to bad habits and lifestyle choices. The bittersweet taste of being a rebel excites them. Things like smoking, consuming alcohol and doing drugs define their “coolness” amongst their peer group. Some teenagers also pick-up these habits to fit in the peer group.
At this age, it is very important for the kid to have its own identity and a group outside of the family where he feels that he/she belongs. Teens sometimes push from their comfort zone and get into activities and habits just to feel belonged. “Peer pressure” is also very powerful at this age to do things that feel like a rebel, teens at this age are really a rebel without a cause. All this influence and changes that happen in the teens’ lives are likely to divert their attention away from their studies.
6) Health Issues
Children are more prone to falling sick during their teens when they experience rapid changes in their hormones and physical attributes of their body. They also exploit their new-found freedom and get into a very unhealthy lifestyle. They indulge in bad habits of smoking and drinking, pulling all-nighters and various other eating habits like eating junk food and aerated drinks are also on the rise. These habits are likely to create many health issues for the teen. They might keep falling sick again and again. It can also cause problems like indigestion. According to a study mentioned in Sage Journals, children who eat more fast food and junk food are less likely to improve their academic scores.
So if your smart kid is scoring not so smart marks in school, here are a few steps you can take as an adult that will help your child get back on track.
1) Talk To Them About Bullying
If you feel your child is behaving distant and if all of a sudden you find their grades to be falling, talk to them about bullying. Don’t make them feel that you are only concerned about their marks. Make sure they know you are concerned about them.
If you feel they are not opening up to you ( high chance this might happen) then try to talk to the school and to their friends.
Here are some ways you can get your kid open up to you.
● Get in the habit of asking short specific questions
Kids are more likely to answer specific questions about their day than a vague how was your day. Specific questions about what they did with friends, did they get into a fight? What happened during the lunch break? Don’t shoot direct questions about bullying – this is more likely to startle them. If they are hesitant to share the details of these questions, it’s a clue that something is bothering them.
● Try Different Settings And Time
Sometimes kids take time to process what happened to them and what is troubling them. Asking them about the day right after they come from school is not a very great idea. Give them some time to settle in. Taking them out for a fun day and slipping it in an on-going conversation also increases the chances of them sharing it.
● Listen To Them Carefully
What we need is active listening. It is very important to get your child to open up to you. Don’t just be interested in getting your questions answered. Listen to what they have to say to you, it might be difficult for them to share the details of their problems right away. It’s okay to give them their space to open up to you. If you listen to them carefully, you might find hints of what’s troubling them. If they feel that you hear them and understand them, they are more likely to communicate their feelings to you.
● Share Your Childhood Stories With Them
Sharing embarrassing or problematic details of your childhood with your kids will inculcate trust in them. Knowing that even their parents went through trouble and faced problems will make them feel more secure about sharing their problems. They are likely to feel you will understand them because even you have experienced something similar.
If the problem seems more serious, then it will be a good idea to consult a psychologist or a medical health professional.
2) Set Their Sleeping Schedule Straight
Make sure your child is getting enough sleep. As we discussed earlier, sleeping is very important for a child’s overall health. If they are unable to fall asleep, then try making up a bedtime routine that will help them fall asleep. Being away from the digital world before one hour of going to bed makes it easier to fall asleep. You can also encourage them to read (it can be something of their interest, it will make it easier for them to get into a reading habit).
3) Help Build Up Their Confidence
Teens face a lot of self-esteem issues at this age. Try to positively boost their confidence. When people believe they are not capable of doing something, they are more likely to put in less effort, which increases the likelihood of them failing. Similarly, when they believe they are capable of achieving good grades, they are more likely to put in more effort.
4) Check Their Company
As a parent, you have to make sure that your child is surrounded by good company. It is very easy to get into bad habits, especially when they are around people who are already indulging in those habits. It is going to be a tricky business as they will feel you are not respecting their personal choices if you forbid them or try to control them, this might also make them rebel. It is important for you to find a way in which they don’t feel that their personal space is being attacked.