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.
Back to school can be stressful but it can also be a joyful time.It depends on how prepared you are and how far ahead you look to know how to handle situations.
If your child is moving to a new school you will need to take special consideration to help the student feel comfortable in their new learning environment.Going to back to school nights, visiting the classroom and teacher before school starts,Giving the student (if older) a map of the campus may help them to navigate and not get lost.Finding friends that your student may know at that school can make life easier.This could be someone from the neighborhood or church or other activities.The bottom line is to help your child find their place in their new environment and be active in their school.
Parents should try to volunteer as much as possible at the school that their student is attending.Parents should never underestimate the impact they have on their children’s lives when they get directly involved in what the child is doing.
The American Association of Pediatrics recently came out with an article that gave several tips on a broad spectrum of topics regarding this time of year.A few of these tips are:
Talk to your child about the first day of school.Point out positive aspects of having a new school year.
Find someone from your neighborhood that the child can walk or ride to school with that you feel comfortable with.
Make sure that the backpack you choose is light and comfortable.
Discuss safety with your child regarding getting to and from school.“Stranger danger” is a discussion we can’t have too many times with children of all ages.
Make sure you have lunch and snacks if necessary for your child.Talk to the school to see what your options are and make sure you have it all in place before the first day of school.
If your child is bullied make sure you teach them what they can do for themselves and always remain an active part of their school day.
Make sure you have child care in place for before or after school as needed.
Develop good homework and study habits.Make a spot in your home that is away from unnecessary distractions.A comfortable place with plenty of light is optimal.
Keep in mind that this list is not conclusive for everything that a parent has to think about regarding the beginning of a school year.There is naturally back to school shopping, uniform shopping and more.
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.
There has always been at least one child who would tease or torment others in the class room or on the playground. Years ago bullying in schools meant someone was calling names, teasing, and on occassion someone would picking a fight. These fights were usually few and far between and were quickly put to a stop and punishment ensued. Today, school violence has taken on a whole new meaning. Statistics on teen violence indicate it is continuing to become a greater issue all the time. These statistic also show that about 6% of kids will cut classes or not attend school because they are insecure about being there. Kids no longer fear being called names because they have much harsher terms of bullying to worry about. Simple name calling has turned into out right verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and often physical abuse. Amongst some of the many reasons we are seeing more and more abuse within our schools is because the number of teen gangs continue to grow and our youth are attracted to the image they portray. Although they may not initially join to become violent as they get involved they are expected to carry out violence, which is often brought into the schools. Yet another way of teen bullying has come to light with the use of electronic devices. Although most schools do not allow use of cellular phones it seems most kids have them anyway. Texting is an easy way for them to mock, degrade, or send terrible messages. Last week an LA jury convicted a mother of participating in bullying a 13 year old girl by posing as a boy on MySpace and once she gained her trust began to belittle her creating a verbal and emotional abuse situation. This 13 year old wound up commiting suicide. The statistics on teen suicide indicate our youth are suffering from terrible emotion issues we may not even be aware of. Some of the warning signs of someone who may be having suicidal thoughts are feeling of worthlessness, anger, withdrawal, weight loss/gain, and teen depression. Teen violence statistics continue to increase, it is important that parents get involved with their children and well as their schools and educate themselves on what is going on with their kids as well as any potential dangers of their children while at school.