The National Parenting Center

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School Underachiever

Underachievers perform below their potential at school. They don’t finish their school work and homework. If you help them with homework, they lose it or don’t it in. The main cause is your child’s reaction to pressure and interference around school work. Poor grades become a way of proving his independence. The harder you try, the worse the situation becomes. Here are some ways you can help.

• First, eliminate all power struggles. Clarify that school work is between your teenager and the teacher. Get out of the middle. Don’t help with homework unless asked. And allow the school to apply all consequences for poor performance.

• Second, if this alone doesn’t help, add incentives, such as money for improved work. You can verify that school work has been completed by a weekly report from the teacher.

• Third, if performance continues to worsen, eliminate all TV and video games. Also remove privileges on school nights, such as visiting or calling friends. Remind your teen, “First we work, then we play,” and restore privileges and give incentives as work improves.

In summary, you can’t force your teenager to study or learn. In fact, you need to do less, not more.

During Dr. Schmitt’s 20 years as a medical practitioner and researcher, he has published over 100 articles or chapters on pediatric health care, and has been awarded the distinguished C. Anderson Aldrich Award by the American Academy of Pediatrics for outstanding contributions to the field of child development. Schmitt has also authored five books including Your Child’s Health, which won Child Magazine’s first Hall of Fame Award in 1991. Schmitt is also a professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and on staff at The Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado.


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