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Teenager Help

Question: Our 16 boy is stuggling in high school. He hates it and is failing 3 of his classes. I got him a tutor but he did not go. (He has a car and drives himself everywhere). He is very capable of doing his homework but just refuses. He tells me he is dumb so why do the work. During the summer he got his own jobs of building brick walls, mailboxes and repairing driveways. He is self motivated if it is something HE wants to do. I am at a loss as what to do…. GED is out of the question, I could barely get him to make up one of his classes this pass summer. We are about to take away his truck tonight and I know this will cause turmoil in our home. What else can I do?

Answer: Hi Kim,

It seems clear that your son is discouraged about school and he likely is feeling overwhelmed and possibly depressed or anxious. As a parent, it can be very difficult to discern what is going on inside of a teenagers head. Some teenagers share a lot with their parents when life gets rough, while other teens close themselves off from the world and their parents when they encounter adversities. A starting point is to clarify as best as possible what your son is thinking and feeling about his current situation. If he is reluctant to share then having him talk with a psychologist/therapist could prove useful. A psychologist can provide another perspective and help to “grease the wheels” of cooperation. It may also be particularly important to conduct a thoughtful clinical assessment to help differentiate between willful opposition and cognitive, emotional, or behavioral problems which may be disrupting your son’s ability to maintain motivation for school.

Response by Dr. Jim Matter

James Matter

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This post was submitted by Kim.