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5 Warning Signs Your Child Needs Help with School

Tornike Asatiani - Co-founder & COO of Edumentors

Why Do Teenagers Dread School?

It is obvious to grownups that early education is an important part of a child’s academic success, however, children often don’t feel the same way. Teenagers are notorious for being moody, lazy and uninterested in any sort of work they are pushed to do. While this could be normal in most situations, there are several signs indicating that your child needs help with school and the problem is not going to disappear on its own.

💡Before we start, is it normal for teenagers to dislike school?!

There is no need to worry if your child occasionally wants to skip school or does not feel like doing homework. There are many influencing factors that are not in their control. Especially if it’s the beginning of the school year.

Secondly, don’t forget that teenagers tend to feel things more intensely. The changes they are going through make them more sensitive and heighten their emotional response. Their bodies are undergoing hormonal fluctuations which can make them feel irritable or even anxious. Hence, try to be observing, but don’t overreact, most of the things you are experiencing as a parent now, are normal.

However, there are times when parental intervention is required and it is our responsibility as parents to pay attention to their cues.

Here are the Top 5 Red Flags to Look out for:

1. Sudden Changes in Their Mood

Your teenager comes home and all you want to ask is “how’s your school day been?” and you get ignored? You are not alone. Many parents feel the same way:

✏️ Michelle from the parent’s support group – “I don’t know what is bothering her, but I think I need to ask her why she is being so distant and hard to reach. I tried talking to her about this, but she just got even more distant and moody. It’s like she doesn’t want to talk about anything at all. Maybe I should just let it go for now, and try again later when things have calmed down?”

Teenage moodiness is normal, but sudden changes in mood that don’t seem to correlate with anything else could be a sign of other issues like depression. If the child is always sad, demotivated, disorganised and visibly having a difficult time, it’s time to investigate.

✏️ “It can be hard to tell whether your child is just going through a phase or experiencing true depression,” says Dr McAllister-Williams. “Be sure you know what is normal for their personality and their life stage before you jump to conclusions about how they’re feeling.”

Talk to them and see if there might be some underlying issue causing the change (e.g., bullying). Learn how to deal with bullying in school before taking any steps. If you suspect that they are truly experiencing depression, seek help immediately as this condition requires treatment from trained professionals who know best how to handle it!

2. Refusing to Go to School

While it’s not uncommon for teenagers to feel the pressure of school and the stress of trying to fit in, this can lead to a host of problems. If your child’s attitude about going to school takes an unusual turn and all of a sudden he/she is looking for excuses not to attend, perhaps claiming sickness or making consistent complaints about teachers or classmates, there may be something more serious going on.

Here are some reasons why your teenager refuses to go to school:

✏️They’re afraid of school, have bad attendance and are behind on school materials.

✏️They have difficulty concentrating during class time and it makes them feel inferior.

✏️They can’t finish their homework in time. You can try to help them with homework once in a while, but if they are too dependent on you, it’s a sign to react.

3. Struggling with Maintaining Sleeping Routine and Eating Habits

Teenagers are known to have trouble sleeping, so it’s normal for them to stay up later than they should or to wake up early. According to paediatrician Michael Crocetti, M.D. they need around 9 – 9½ of sleep every night.

✏️ “Teenagers are going through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation”, says Crocetti.

However, if your teen is having trouble falling asleep, they wake up in the middle of the night or feel tired all the time, these may be signs that it’s time for parents to interfere.

Normally, the body releases hormones that tell it when to wake up, when it needs food, and when it should go back to sleep again. Despite that, some teenagers have issues with this process because their brains aren’t mature enough yet. This can lead them towards erratic eating habits too: sometimes teens might eat three meals a day but sometimes only one meal.

Did you know that 83.2% of teens drink caffeinated beverages regularly, according to Medical News Today? Coffee increases anxiety and also reduces the absorption of some minerals and vitamins. Hence, make sure you inform them about these effects. Try to reduce caffeine intake yourself, so that you can lead by example! Eating and/or sleeping irregularly and consuming too much caffeine can throw off their biological clock even more. Keep in mind what they like and try to help them with improving their sleeping routine and incorporating more brain foods into their diet without denying them fast food.

4. Spending Too Much Time on the Homework

Signs that the Child Needs Help with School - Teenager Doing Their Homework
Signs that the Child Needs Help with School – Teenager Doing Their Homework

The fourth warning sign that your child may need help with school is if they spend too much time on their homework. Homework is important for helping teach kids the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the future, but it shouldn’t take over a teen’s life.

If your teenager spends more than two-three hours on every subject and still struggles to complete it all before bedtime, it might be worth trying something different. Check whether or not the workload is appropriate for their grade level. If the workload is fine for their age, there might be other problems to consider:

📌 They might have poor time-management skills. If your child sits all day at their desk, but can’t quite get through their homework, they might not be using their time smartly. However, it’s a skill that can be learnt. There even are some useful apps to help your child with managing their tasks and time.

📌 They might not be using effective studying methods. If the child is using passive learning techniques, it won’t do much good. Rereading notes or making flashcards all day may seem like a productive thing to do, but they may also waste some valuable time. Help them figure out what their learning style is and suggest them studying methods and revision techniques to try out.

📌 They might not know where to start. They juggle multiple subjects, and multiple books and at the end of the day, do not get much done. Switching from one topic to another might seem like a productive thing to do, but sadly, multitasking does not work. If the school material is too broad, they may not be able to figure out the best way to approach it. Help them break down their homework into manageable chunks by asking them what steps they need in order to complete each assignment. This may mean breaking up hard topics into smaller parts with clearer goals that can be checked off as completed as each part is finished.

📌 They might not understand why they are studying. Not every teenager has future goals to become an engineer, astronaut, artist or etc. They may not be able to see what they are struggling for exactly. They may sit down for hours and study with less effort, just to get acceptable grades. Show them how far they’ve come already. Encourage them to keep track of their progress by using an online planner or appointment book (or even just paper). Your child might not think this is necessary, but research shows it really does make a difference!

📌 They might have learning difficulties. Disorders like ADHD, Dyscalculia, Dyslexia, and Autism may also affect their ability to focus and their productivity. Make sure they use all the tips and tricks for learning with these difficulties. For example, to-do lists don’t quite work for some people with ADHD, but doing homework whilst listening to music might work wonders. Not everyone is the same though, so make sure you research all the hacks!

5. Getting Low Grades Consistently

If your child is getting low grades consistently and their teacher also has concerns, it’s time to step in. Grade point averages should help a student understand how they are doing academically and can be a great motivator for studying harder and getting better grades. However, it can also be overwhelming.

If you find that your child has been struggling with schoolwork for a long time, it may be helpful for them to see an educational psychologist or another professional who can assess their learning style and make recommendations about what might work best for them. Also, taking notes on all of the classes being taken by your teenager each semester will help you provide support if needed. This will show whether there are any gaps in the curriculum or if there is something that could be covered more effectively by other means (i.e., online resources).

Other factors why your child might have low grades:

📌 They have test anxiety. If the child is afraid of taking exams, no matter how much they study, they may still get bad grades. 

📌 They don’t understand the importance of good grades. Teenagers might not realise that grades may affect their future greatly.

📌 They don’t understand the material. If the child always is behind in class, because the teacher goes too fast or does not explain well, it will affect their learning process. Being always frustrated and trying to keep up can damage their self-esteem. Try to find out the exact reason and help them accordingly.

How Can Parents Help?

If you suspect that your child is struggling with school, it’s important to have an open dialogue with them. Always talk to them in a calm, supportive manner and let them know that you are willing to listen to their concerns. Check out this guide on how to talk with your teenager and what response is better. Every little thing is important, even your body language or facial expressions. Be careful to not lose their trust completely, don’t be pushy. Be gentle and understanding.

You can also use a rewards system to encourage them to study and see if that can help. You should also encourage your child to seek professional help if they need it and not stigmatise it. If your teenager refuses help or continues to refuse after you’ve tried several times, don’t give up! However, consult with a professional on how to best approach this issue.

Don’t forget that mental support and unconditional love from a parent can be the best help they can get. Even if teenagers don’t show it, they care. They want parents to be proud of them and their achievements. Whether you decide to seek additional help or assist them yourself, never stop being by their side!


If your teenager is going through difficult times and you picked up some of the warning signs mentioned in this article, it might be the right time to take action. Talk to them and understand their viewpoint on the matter. If they refuse to go back to school or are not interested in attending, try speaking with teachers and other students who have had similar experiences. There might be something outside of your knowledge that even they don’t fully understand. In general, it might be encouraging to do more physical activities together as a family. This can help teenagers combat stress and anxiety-related issues such as depression or anxiety.

If the source of their bad mood is weaker academic performance than expected, you can always find personalised external support. It can be helpful to find someone who teenagers trust and relate to. What has worked for many parents is hiring a student-tutor from a top university to guide their teenager with recent experience. A student from their dream university who has received the highest marks in GCSEs and A-Levels, often comes out as a role model to teenagers and serves as the best motivator. Try finding one on Edumentors.co.uk if you think your child is also falling behind at school and read this article about how great online tutors can help teenagers.

Lastly, it is important to remind ourselves that unconditional parental love and constant encouragement (even when they’re not doing well) are the most invaluable support any parent could give. Talk to your teenagers more. Listen to them and make them feel that you understand their everyday struggles no matter how silly they might seem to you. Remember, it’s more about how they are experiencing a particular situation in their own world rather than what we might think about their sensations.

Be attentive, be supportive and be conscious of the warning signs discussed above. Feel free to share this article with others you think might also need to be aware of or if you’ve noticed any of the signs with their kids. You never know how you could help other parents with the right advice.


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