The struggling teenagers of today are a completely different category than what existed even ten years ago. With the plethora of options tempting teenagers to go off the rails, it is amazing that there are any kids around that are not being categorized as struggling teenagers. If you have a struggling teenager in your family but are not sure whether their struggling is “normal” or not, you should probably start asking yourself some questions. Do you feel that your child is more secretive than he/she used to be? Are you finding that you no longer know who your child’s friends are? Does he/she spend inordinate amounts of time isolated in his/her room and reluctant to share what they are doing? Do they seem happy/sad/withdrawn? Are their grades starting to slip?
Teenagers have learned to hide many things when they are frightened, so it is often difficult to know what is really going on with them. They may be reluctant to share problems with their parents for fear that they will disappoint them. Many struggling teenagers put more pressure on themselves than even their parents do as the bar in their family is high and the expectation of excellence is a given.
Parents will often contact me when they feel that their child is not living up to their academic potential; poor grades, failure to hand in homework, increased lack of enthusiasm or downright reluctance to go to school. Unfortunately, there are many extremely bright struggling teenagers who are able to maintain decent grades at school yet inside are challenged by their daily life. Do not suppose that simply good grades gets your child a pass. Keep the lines of communication open, as much as any parent can with a growing adolescent and do not be afraid to ask the difficult questions when you suspect something more is going on. Your child may present outwardly as though all is well when beneath the surface he is really a classic struggling teenager.