When a teen fails or is doing poorly in school, parents can react with understandable frustration and try all kinds of strategies, from bribery to punishment, to get their teen to turn things around. When all else fails, the tension builds and everyone becomes exasperated and at a loss to discover the cause, and the cure, of problems at school.
Depression, and not stubbornness or laziness. Approximately 4% to 12% of school-age children (depending on their age) meet the criteria for being depressed, and since depression is not only experienced at home, it is likely to affect an adolescent’s performance as well. at school. Adolescents who experience symptoms of depression generally have difficulty completing school work and are at risk of poor academic performance and failure. Without early diagnosis and treatment, an adolescent is likely to have a negative cycle of depression> school failure> increased depression due to failure.
School failure has a negative impact on a teenager’s self-esteem. A depressed teenager tends to have a difficult time working on his academic and intellectual abilities. You rarely complete your homework and your grades are likely to drop because you are tired and have trouble concentrating. To complicate matters, your teachers don’t recognize the symptoms of depression.
School can also be a source of stress for your teen. For a depressed adolescent, school may be the main situation in which substantial demands are placed on her. It can result in significant social stress if your teen has a hard time adjusting to his peer group.
Depression is likely to affect your teen in the following areas of school:
Ability to concentrate and pay attention. The depressed adolescent is often preoccupied with negative thoughts and feelings and finds it difficult to put full attention on school work. Concentration problems at school are one of the main complaints of adolescents experiencing depression. A depressed teenager can improve his ability to maintain attention by getting a good night’s sleep and feeling rested.
Completing class work. When an adolescent is depressed, he has little energy to apply himself to activities that he perceives as stressful or of little interest. A depressed adolescent may withdraw from typical activities and become resistant to teacher requests to participate in classroom activities. In this situation, it is good for teachers to be able to provide daily feedback to parents regarding the completion of a teenager’s homework. It works best if used positively rather than negatively so that it doesn’t add undue pressure to the teen’s stress level. If you are having a bad day, you can ignore it and try to focus on making the next day better.
Completing the task. Teens who are depressed often have great difficulty finishing their homework because they lack focus, energy, and motivation. Most teens, of course, prefer not to have homework, but they do it because they know they have to. They are also aware that if they don’t, they may pay a price in the future. The depressed teenager is caught in a nasty here and now. You are not thinking ahead, and when you do, it is without much hope or interest. You can create a behavior plan to establish rewards for completing homework well. If homework is still a problem, you can try enrolling your teen in an after-school homework program or suggest finding a study buddy.
Get to school. Many depressed teens have a hard time getting up in the morning and going to school. Because they are tired and have a hard time dealing with stressful events, they may try to avoid school. You can help by encouraging your teen to develop good bedtime and wake-up routines. The less your teen has to think about what to do in the morning or in the evening, the better. The process must become automatic, so that it runs smoothly.
Peer relations. Depressed teens often have difficulties that lead to social isolation. It is another cycle of depression. A teenager may withdraw and isolate him from his friends and classmates, leading to loneliness, which can perpetuate depression. Having friends and a social support system can go a long way for a teenager dealing with depression. You should encourage your teenager to attend extracurricular activities that teach him a combination of academic and social skills, through activities such as non-competitive sports, special interest clubs, or skill improvement programs.