If you have been struggling with a defiant teen, grades and school attendance have probably taken a hit. While you can make every effort to encourage your teen to go to school, there is not much you can do if he has decided that he no longer cares or refuses to attend classes. While the idea of your son playing fast and loose with his future is frightening, it is important to keep the issue in perspective and try not to let it become a further wedge in your relationship. If your teen is headed down a bad road, academically, there are things you can try before you give up. For instance:
Dig a little deeper – Issues with school are almost always the result of a bigger issue and there is a chance that figuring it out and addressing it can help get him back on track. If you have ruled out issues like a learning disorder or bullying, it may help to get him into therapy to let a professional track the situation, independent of parental input.
Speak his language – Lack of motivation or boredom may be at the heart of your teen’s school issues and he is not mature enough to understand what kind of long term consequences may result from leaving school without graduating. Talk to him about an appropriate reward for regular school attendance and reasonable grades. Whether this means providing him with a car as long as he meets his goals or being willing to pay his phone bill, you need to determine how far you are willing to go and what will likely to motivate him.
Remove your financial support – Defiant teens are difficult to reason with and your best arguments are not going to pack as much of a punch as actions are. Depending on your relationship with your teen, it may be helpful to explain to him that you are willing to cover his living expenses as long as he is attending school, but that dropping out means that he is indicating that he is ready to make adult decisions, which leads to paying rent and providing his own transportation. While he may feel like this is an agreeable trade off initially, he will see very quickly how fast a paycheck can go, even if he is working full time. If you decide to go this route; however, you need to be prepared to follow through.
Compromise – While you would rather your teen get a traditional high school education, there are still options for him. If he is close to graduation anyway, he may be willing to get his GED or even graduate early. If neither of these options is reasonable, keep in mind that dropping out of school at this point is not the worst thing. He can always catch up on his education at a more stable point in his life and it may not be worth breaking the tenuous hold you have left on your relationship together. Assess what is the most valuable at this point in time and make a decision in whatever direction keeps him safe.
For more information on the ways you can help your struggling teen son, visit our site at Sundance Canyon Academy.