Your Teen Hates School, Now What?
This is actually one of the questions I get asked the most often . . .
. . . “My teen hates school. What do I do?”
If your teen hates school, you’re not alone, and neither is your teen. Most of the teens that I talk to tolerate school at best. Quite a few teens HATE school, and I don’t think I know a single teen that LOVES school.
This is a problem.
Especially because school is supposed to be preparing you for the workplace, a career, and your future.
Well, if you are developing the habit of hating school, or at least tolerating it, what do you think your habit will be after school?
Look no further than yourself, your spouse, or your friends and family. Do they love their jobs? Do they tolerate their jobs? Or, do they HATE their jobs like the majority of adults.
This is sad, and it’s a shame. We live in a time when you could do anything, be anything, and most people feel stuck in their job and wish the could do something more exciting, fun, and/or fulfilling.
Can you blame your teen for feeling the same way?
I Have Experience in This Area
When I was a teen I HATED school.
If it weren’t for football, I probably would have dropped out.
Not only did I hate school as a student, but I often hated it as an adult, and I was disappointed in myself for not making school more fun like I always promised that I would.
Fortunately, as a high school principal, I adopted the mantra, “Party with a Purpose”.
You see, I wanted to make school more fun, for me, for my students, and for my staff.
But, you’d be surprised how much resistance I got around this. Teachers, and leaders at the state level, would tell me, “School’s not supposed to be fun.” Or, “Kids can’t learn and have fun at the same time.” One teacher even told me, “These kids are going to leave school and get a job they hate, they might as well get used to it now.”
Seriously, this is sad.
But, here’s a secret that I learned. On our controversial “fun” days, our attendance went up and our behavior issues went down. Eventually, we found that the more fun we made school, the better our students did.
Empower Your Teen by Understanding These School Myths
One of my biggest problems with the way we handle teens who hate school is that we usually blame the teen without ever seeking to understand our teen or ever trying to validate their feelings and perspective.
If you or your school leaders are blaming your teen for hating school, this is disempowering you and your teen.
If you want to help and support your teen that hates school, find ways to empower them.
Nobody seems to really know how to do this because we are stuck believing old myths and lies.
When you believe the following myths, they are your reality. If you want to help your teen who hates school, question these old myths about school.
Myth #1 Your Teen NEEDS to be Successful at School to Succeed in Life
I’m probably going to get some angry emails about this next sentence, but that’s alright–it needs to be said. . .
. . . Your teen doesn’t need to be successful at school to succeed in life!
I graduated with something like a 2.0. Just enough to play sports. I know several people who have dropped out of school and they are perfectly successful. I have clients who have dropped out of school, withdrawn from school, and been kicked out of school who have all gone on to be very successful.
Of course teachers and administrators are going to tell you that you have to succeed at school. That’s their reality. Most of them believe that their success is do to their success in school.
Just because that was true for them, or maybe even you, doesn’t mean that that’s true for your teen.
I promise you, your teen doesn’t need to be successful at school to succeed in life!
Myth # 2 Your Teen Needs to Go to College
I don’t know exactly when or why this happened, but somewhere in the last several years, high school has began pushing college as the only “right” next step after high school. I’m sorry, but this is not true.
Again, I’m going to say something controversial.
College is not the answer for everyone. In fact, I actually believe that it’s less than half of people who actually need to go on to college to be successful.
A lot of our teens want to go to college, simply because they believe that’s the only option if they want to be successful.
There are so many options besides college. Let’s help our teens see the reality that there are indeed options and choices.
Myth #3 If Your Teen Struggles in School, There’s Something Wrong with Them
I’m sorry if this is sounding like a rant, but I remember struggling in school and being told that there was something “wrong” with me. I remember being told that I was “lazy” or that I had something wrong with my brain called ADD and ADHD. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and told that my brain didn’t work “right”.
Let’s stop victimizing and villainizing our teens for struggling in school or hating school.
I could go way deeper in this, and I promise I will later, but for now, let’s just say that if you are blaming your teen for hating school or struggling with school, YOU are in the victim mindset. If your school leader are blaming your teen, THEY are in the victim mentality. If you and your school leaders are in the victim mentality, it’s very likely that your teen will also be in the victim mentality.
Instead of blaming your teen empower them by validating how they feel about school and by helping them take responsibility for coming up with solutions that work for them.
Myth #4 School is the One and Only Answer for EVERYONE
Let’s stop pretending that school works for everyone. School, for the most part, tries to educate everyone the same, or as close to the same as possible.
School, as it is for the most part today, does not work for everyone, period!
It’s silly that in today’s world, with so many recourses at our finger tips, that we refuse differentiate education based on individual’s needs.
School does not work everyone. School does not prepare students for what they individually need.
Myth #5 School is Preparing Kids for the Future
I’m sorry, but I’ve got to call it as I see it.
School is NOT preparing kids for the future.
Remember the thing our teachers used to tell us, “You won’t always have a calculator in your pocket”?
Look at us know! We have full blown computers in our pockets.
Why are schools banning the use of AI. Why are we not teaching our students how to use AI to improve their work?
Why are we not teaching them how to harness the power of YouTube?
School is trying to educate kids for the 1960’s or 70’s.
One of the things that I hear the most from teens is, “What’s the point in school? It’s a waste of time.”
Our teens aren’t dumb. They can see that what their being presented with as the answer to creating success in life is a lie. This is why they are overwhelmed, under motivated, and bored out of their minds.
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