7 Ways To Get Your Children To Love School
Is your teen always saying that he hates school?
Does he complain about his teachers and classmates, and about how “useless” the lessons are?
Or maybe he complains that the people in school are “fake”, and that it’s hard to make friends?
If so, as a parent you probably feel concerned and frustrated.
You want to help your teen, but whatever you’ve tried so far hasn’t worked.
Don’t worry. There are many powerful strategies you can employ to help the situation. In this article, I’ll outline 7.
1. Don’t assume that your teen is being defiant or rebellious.
As children enter the teenage years, they crave autonomy. They’re also forming their identity, all while their bodies and brains are going through drastic changes. As such, teens often exhibit rebellious behaviour.
But don’t assume that this is the only reason your teen tells you she hates school. Many times, there are other issues at play, e.g. feeling overwhelmed, struggling to keep up with schoolwork, bullying, fear of exams.
By using active listening techniques, your teen will be more likely to share with you what’s troubling him.
Many parents seem to care more about their children’s homework than their children do. Help them to understand that their homework is their responsibility, not yours. Feel free to provide help or guidance, but never do the work for them.
2. Think about what you’ve been doing that may have contributed to the problem.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I frequently nag my teen?
- Do I always talk about school-related topics?
- Do I talk as if my teen’s hobbies are a waste of time, or that they’re merely a distraction from her schoolwork?
- Do I frequently force or coerce my teen into doing schoolwork?
If you threaten or intimidate them, your parent-child relationship will suffer. And as the saying goes, “Rules without relationship breeds rebellion.” If you impose rules without nurturing the relationship, sooner or later your children will defy you.
3. Use active listening techniques when talking to your teen about the issue.
When you talk to your teen about why he hates school (and when you talk to him about other topics too), use active listening techniques such as the following:
- Give your teen your full attention
- Don’t multitask
- Don’t interrupt your teen while he’s talking
- Encourage your teen to keep talking, e.g. by saying “go on” or “tell me more”
- Empathise with your teen
- Seek to understand how he is feeling
- Don’t judge
4. Don’t use threats.
Whether it’s threatening to reduce your teen’s allowance or take away her phone, it won’t work in the long run.
The use of power becomes less effective as children get older. By the time they’re teenagers, this approach doesn’t work, and tends to backfire instead.
If your teen detests school, the root cause is probably emotional in nature. This is what must be addressed as a priority.
5. Don’t lecture.
Avoid lecturing your teen. But if you really can’t help it, keep the lecture short.
Teens tell me that they start tuning their parents out about two minutes into the lecture.
Your teen won’t respond well to you preaching about the importance of school. Nor will he start or stop performing specific behaviours because you told him that he “should” or “shouldn’t” do those things.
What does your teen need from you?
He needs you to listen to him, to understand him, to see things from his perspective.
When he feels understood, he’ll change his behaviour and attitude.
6. Reduce your focus on school and academics.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t bring up school-related topics at all.
But many teens have told me that it seems as if school is the only thing their parents care about.
Make it a point to talk about topics that your teen is interested in, e.g. music, hobbies, gaming, social media.
When the conversations you have with your teen are more balanced, your teen’s attitude toward school will become more balanced too.
7. Help your teen to learn organisational and study skills.
Many students who don’t like school feel overwhelmed by schoolwork, projects, tests, exams, etc.
Most of these students haven’t learned how to prioritise, plan, stay organised, manage their time, and study effectively.
If this describes your teen, encourage – but don’t force – her to develop these skills. To do so, she can check out relevant resources and sign up for programmes.
This is the reason why I’ve developed products like the Straight-A Student Weekly Checklist, and why I coach students 1-to-1.
When students develop the necessary organisational and study skills, they enjoy school more.
Daniel Wong blogs about empowering students and parenting tips at Daniel-Wong.com.