Worried about your child at school? As a parent, it can be hard to get the full picture of how your teen is doing – especially at the start of the new term.
If you think they might struggling with school anxiety or that they need extra support, it’s always best to check in with your teen and ask them how you can help.
There are also some key signs to look out for. Here are five red flags and what you can do when your teen is having a difficult time.
1. They get angry when you bring up school
Your teen’s brain is going through a lot of change and development, so you might notice they experience mood swings. But, if you’ve noticed a big difference in their mood since the start of school, it could be a sign that they need extra support.
They might have gaps in their learning, or they might be struggling with staying on top of their homework. If they’re lashing out more than usual, there’s a chance their confidence has taken a knock and they’re feeling frustrated.
2. They spend too much time on homework
When they move up a level, it’s normal for them to spend a bit more time on their work. But, if they’re struggling for hours on the same topic, then they might need extra help.
Check in with them by offering snacks or a little help, and see what their body language is saying. If they’re hunched over and looking deflated, there’s a chance they’re getting stuck.
3. They’re not sleeping or eating well
If they’re struggling at school, it can harm your teen’s mental and physical health. If they’re doubting themselves or struggling to make friends, this might be keeping them up at night.
As a parent, you’ll know the tell-tale signs of when they’re not getting enough sleep. Do they look tired? Are they falling asleep in class, or at strange times of the day? Are they more irritable than usual?
And when they’re stressed, their appetite can take a hit, too. Are they skipping meals? Leaving lots of food on their plate? Or, are they eating tons of junk food? Under- and overeating are both red flags that something is up.
4. They’ve lost interest in the things they usually enjoy
Hobbies and interests are so important to your teen’s wellbeing and help them strike a balance between work and play. If they’re pulling away from the things they love, this can be a sign of low mood or school anxiety.
5. They’re spending a lot of time alone
If they’re avoiding friends and keeping to themselves more than usual, it might be a sign that they’re going through something. There are behaviours you can look out for – like if they’re lying in bed staring up at the ceiling, or their screens for hours at a time.
How can you help them if they’re struggling with school anxiety?
It’s completely normal for you to worry if your teen is struggling with school anxiety. Thankfully, there are some actions you can take to help them open up and find support.
Have regular chats
Spending regular time together makes it easier for your teen to open up. There’s no quick fix, but if you put your teen in the driver’s seat by asking them: ‘What can I do to help?’ you might be surprised by how much they share.
And with lots of chats and encouragement, you can help them work out how to get back on track.
Reach out for academic support
Sometimes, they just need expert help. If you’ve heard from teachers that your child’s not the most organised, or if you’ve seen them struggling over homework, it might be time to consider online tutoring.
Our tutors are students at top UK universities and can help break down tricky topics. They can also give them pointers on how best to study and stay on top of their schoolwork, which can make a big difference to your teen’s confidence and happiness at school.
Encourage them to join a club
Teens want to fit in and it’s really hard when they don’t. If they’re struggling with making friends, ask them if they want to join a club or try something new that interests them.
And if the problem has to do with bullying, it’s a good idea to get in touch with the school. They’ll help to put a plan together so that your child feels safe.
Check out helpful resources
From school anxiety to peer pressure and low self-esteem, our guide for parents can help you navigate some of the biggest issues that your teen might be facing.
Plus, there are helpful resources and initiatives specially designed for teens who are having a hard time:
- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) run by the NHS
- Kooth, which delivers psychological support for teens
- Mental health apps: Catch It, Feeling Good, SAM
This is a tricky life stage for teens to navigate with changing hormones and school and social pressures. So, working out how your teen really feels about school can be tough.
However, you’ll likely know when things aren’t right. Your support and guidance will help them feel listened to and open to reaching out for help when they need it.
Think your teen might benefit from the support of a tutor? Find the right tutor for them here.