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Help! My Kid is “Done with School” and Giving Up

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Is your child giving up on school long before the term is over? Do they start get so tired of it that they just stop trying at all?

Diane:
So one of the things that I notice and parents notice a lot is that later and later and later in the school year, our kids start to lose stamina. And sometimes it happens at the end of the semester. Sometimes it doesn't happen till the end of the school year. But the question is what to do ...

Elaine:
To help kids make it all the way to the end of the school year. None of mine did.

Diane:
Amazing isn't it. So part of it is about raising your kid's awareness and kind of mirroring for them and helping them to see that that's what's going on.

Elaine:
And that it's a legitimate challenge. Right, it's really hard.

Diane:
Yeah. Because it's exhausting. You've been working at this all semester and here you are. They put finals at the end of the semester. What were they thinking? And it's like these kids are exhausted from holding it together for three months and then they've got to study for finals and everything else.

Elaine:
Well and they've lost some of the things that motivate kids at the beginning of the school year, like novelty, right? Or a new subject, or a new teacher or an interesting subject. By the end of the year it may not be so interesting anymore, and it's certainly not that novel anymore. So they've lost some of the things that kept them engaged and kept them going.

Diane:
Right. And so part of this is just acknowledging that and helping them to know that it's a pretty normal thing, and that that's something that needs to be worked on, and it's something that needs to be addressed.

Elaine:
The other thing I used to do with my kids a lot was to really celebrate how far they'd gotten and every time, because my son had this habit of coming to me at some point in the school year, every year, and saying, "I'm done. I'm just done." And every time I heard it, I'd go, "This is great. You were done a month earlier last year. Look at how much further you got." Yes, he was done in December or January and then we had to work with how do we break it down into chunks and help him find the motivation to get through the rest of the year bit by bit, but acknowledging the progress was huge for him -- and acknowledging his experience with being ‘done.’

Diane:
Yeah. And so those are the two strategies. I heard you just say both of them. One is kind of focusing on helping them find their motivation, or creating motivation for them if they're having a really hard time. And then the other is kind of breaking it into smaller pieces because when you're exhausted, and you're stressed out, and you've got all this stuff,

Elaine:
It's overwhelming.

Diane:
... focus on one assignment for one class, or focus on one final, or one hour, or whatever it is so that it makes it easier for them when they don't have as much energy.

When your child is giving up on school because they’re just bored and worn out, start by acknowledging that their feelings are real; then help them tackle each hurdle, step by step.

 

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