All parents dread the day that they discover their child is struggling in school. Whether they are struggling with social aspects such as school bullying or peer pressure or academically. Here we identify a few ways in which kids struggle in school and hopefully help you to know better how to help your child so that their school experience is as good as possible. After all, not much learning happens if a child does not feel safe in school or confident in their academic abilities. These problems occur in children in both public schools and private schools.
* School bullying – Your child may be the victim of bullying or they may be the bully. Be sure you have a clear understanding of your child’s role in things before you take further steps.
If your child is being bullied – there are two main reason why kids get bullied (this is not always the case) and they are social status and appearance. Bullies will pick on any child who appears to be different and perceived as being weaker. Bullying can be verbal or physical but it is NEVER acceptable. The best thing you can do for your child is to listen to them, believe them, empathize, help them where you can (with appearance, social skills, etc.) and then work with the school to resolve the problem without making worse for the child. You also need to teach your child the skills that are necessary for dealing with a bully. Often time a school counselor or other child therapist can help your child learn coping mechanisms so that they go to school not in fear but armed with a plan to help themselves. This will increase their self esteem so much if they know they have handled it themselves for the most part.
If your child is the bully – make it clear that there is never a time or place for such behavior. Be sure that your child is not learning this type of behavior from you, your spouse or other family and friends that are close. Don’t be fooled. If you get a call saying that your daughter is being a bully you may as well face facts that bullies are girls and boys. Often times we think of boys as being the real bullies and it just isn’t right. Some children who are bullies actually do have personality disorders that keep them from relating with certain peers and their way of handling that is to display poor behavior. You may want to get the help from therapists as well as putting in place a consequence for such behavior to make it clear that you will not accept it.
Cliques – we all want a peer group that we feel accepted by and that we feel comfortable but cliques can be a lesser version of a gang in ways. Be sure if your child is part of a clique that you always teach about the important of accepting and befriending others and never leaving other people out or make them feel alienated. If you child struggles because they just don’t seem to have a clique you may want to help them find activities and other after school programs where they can find a peer group that they relate to and can feel accepted in. Schools have many clubs, organizations and activities. Community involvement will also help this.
If your child is struggling in their classes with low grades, incomplete work, below average test scores or any other problem you, as the parent, need to work closely with the parent to resolve these problems. You may want to look into tutoring for that child. You may also want to have the assessed to see if there is an underlying learning disability that may make it harder than you realize for the child to complete the tasks expected of them.
If you child is a behavior problem in class this not only will affect the child’s grades but the grades of all those around them. It is important to get to the bottom of behavior disorders and find out what kind of help is available to you so that you can help your child be successful in school. If a child is ADD,or ADHD, they may need therapy to learn skills and/or medication to help them focus. The same goes with other disorders. A good place to start is the school counselor but remember to keep pushing on the behalf of your child, you are their only true advocate and if you won’t go to bat for them to find solutions for them who will?
The best thing a parent can do is to be a school volunteer as much as possible without hovering over the child. Show your involvement. For bullies, this will make them aware that you could see what the bully is doing to your child at any time and may lesson the attacks. For kids who do bully, they will think that you may see something and see to it that the child is reprimanded. And if your child struggles in the classwork or with staying on task and other issues, you can make a huge difference by volunteering in the classroom. This frees the teacher up to help more students, even yours. Teachers are overwhelmed with the load they have and too often kids slip through the cracks. Teachers simply don’t have time to get to the underlying issue of why every child does what they do.
Realizing your child is struggling in school for whatever reason is the first step in solving the problem. Just try to be loving and understand through this time as well as firm and resolved. Know that you are not the only parent going through these issues and that there is help if you will just ask your school. If your problems are deeper than the ones discussed here you may want to look at getting your child some serious help. There are many youth programs that can help children and teens in succeeding while helping you as a family unit.
This time of year is when parents do the bulk of clothes shopping for the children to get them ready for school. Whether you have a child in public school, private school, or homeschool them you have choices to make. Your child’s school may require uniforms and they may lesson the arguments about what your child is allowed to where but then you also have to buy uniforms on top of everyday clothing. This can ease some stress and then add some stress and cost to the equation. Either way most parents, teachers and students would agree that clothing is a subject where a lot of peer pressure comes into play.
School uniform requirements are a hot topic that is much debated. We will just provide a brief section for the pros of uniforms and one for the cons of uniforms.
Pros of School Uniforms:
Uniforms take the guess work out of setting guidelines of appropriate school attire.
The students clearly know what is expected of them, there is no room for interpretation.
Students and parents are less worried about fashion trends and can more readily focus on why they are at school.
Students appear as equals in every way. This eliminates social classes and cliques. It also keeps any gang related clothing articles out of the school. These things all create a feeling of unity in the school.
Students are easily identifiable on field trips.
Cons of School Uniforms:
Students lose their freedom of expression in regards to dress and outward appearance on some level due to uniform requirements.
Students do not see the real world at school, identifying that we are not all alike or have the same taste but that we can all get along.
It may not be right to teach conformity in school as a way to avoid problems with each other.
Students are not able to dress for their body type and so may not look their best in school uniforms that may be unflattering. Especially for teens and tweens, this can be hard on their self esteem.
Cost – parents may not have the money for new uniforms every time they are needed or when the school changes a uniform requirement. This excludes children which should never happen at school if possible.
Not allowing children to wear their own clothing will not prevent gangs, clicks or how students choose to express themselves in other ways. With the expression in how they dress taken away, they may find an alternative way that is not much better.
The debate can go on and on about school uniforms or what is appropriate for school dress codes.
In an part 1 of Peer Pressure the focus was on negative and positive peer pressure at all ages. This article will focus specifically on teen peer pressure, which is typically between the ages of 13-18 but could start or occur earlier or later. Most teens participate in some typical teen behavior like spending less time with family, changing their appearance, arguing more, and most will experiment with alcohol and drugs. It is important for parents to educate themselves on what is considered “normal” behavior and what is not, what to look for if they suspect their teen is starting to use or abuse alcohol or drugs, and how to differentiate and identify if their teen is succumbing to peer pressure or being bullied. Children of all ages need to be taught what peer pressure and bullying are, how to identify them in their lives, and how to handle different types of situations related to them. If children and teens know these things they will be better equipped to handle it if and when it occurs to them or others around them. Peer pressure and bullying can significantly effect a teens self esteem and when their self esteem is low they are more likely to give into peer pressure to try to fit in. Even though teens often make parents feel their opinion is not important or they do not care what they think, most of the time they are ultimately looking for their parents acceptance and approval as well as their peers. Parents can help improve their teens self esteem by giving them praise, support, and with positive pressure to make good choices. If parents feel like their teens situation is beyond peer pressure, self esteem, or bullying and their teen may be showing signs of depression or suicide it is important that they get help NOW. Parents should not be so ashamed or embarrassed of a teen who is suffering from depression, drug or alcohol abuse, or suicidal tendencies to seek help. These things can be treated and even prevented with help. It is important that parents include their child’s school principal and/or counselors in any problems they feel may affect their child in school whether it be peer pressure, depression, or drug or alcohol issues. It does “take a village” to raise a child and nobody can help fix what they do not know is broken. Children spend the larger part of their day at school. Teachers and counselors are there to help the children become the best people they can be, the easiest way for them to do that is to be included in any concerns parents may have for the safety or well being of their child.
When we think of “peer pressure” we often think of teenagers and the negative influence that teenagers can have on one another in trying to convince them to do bad things that are not within their normal choices. We also often associate the peer pressure with their schoolmates. I am going to write a second part to this that deals specifically with “teen peer pressure” because I feel it is in a realm all of it’s own.
For now I want to discuss the fact that peer pressure effects everyone, and it can have a negative effect or a positive effect. It is important to teach our toddlers social skills even before they start pre-school or kindergarten. While doing this we can also teach them about peer pressure and that it is ok to stand up for themselves if they feel they are being asked to do something they are not comfortable with.
Once they have started school it is important for them to understand the difference between peer pressure and school bullying and know how to handle them both before it starts. If they can learn these communication skills in their early childhood they will be much more prepared for their teenage and adult years where they may be more greatly influenced.
As these children become young adults (13-18) they are more like to start getting peer pressure to do things that can have a major effect on the rest of their lives such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex. Discuss these issues with your teens and make sure they are clear on how they are going to handle that kind of peer pressure when it happens. And don’t just talk to them once, talk to them regularly. Also teach them how they can have positive peer pressure with their friends to get them to make good choices by inviting them to study together or attend a movie or a sober party instead of the alternative.
After 18 they are going to be moving on with their lives but that does not mean they are free from peer pressure. If they choose to go to college it can be a very trying time to fight off peer pressure because they may not have the support or influence of family and friends to keep them strong. Even if they are not living at home, keeping open communication with your college student will help them remain strong and focused while attending college.
As adults we need to be setting the example to them all along by practicing what we preach and remaining strong and making good choices when our “peers” try to influence us. Even as parents we have the ability to gently apply positive pressure with our children to insure they become strong educated successful adults.