Signs that your teen may be struggling

12 - 18 years
Frustrated student

Teenagers are notoriously tight-lipped, especially with their parents. So not surprisingly, you may be the last person to know when your teen is struggling at secondary school. That is why it pays to keep an eye for these common warning signs.

Not talking about school

If your teen is having problems at school, their first reaction is usually to avoid the issue completely. They will fidget, change the subject, even leave the room to avoid a discussion about school.

Increased aggression

When something is irritating a teen, it often manifests itself in more aggressive behaviour. They might be argumentative, difficult and moody—especially before they leave for, or after they arrive home from school.

Distant behaviour

If you notice your teen’s energy levels are down or their behaviour is more detached and distant than usual, investigate the situation. It could be a sign that they are struggling in school.

First response

If you think your teen might be struggling with school, start with these steps.

  • Talk to your teen about what you've noticed, and ask if there's anything worrying them.
  • Reach out to your teen’s pastoral care teacher, and ask if they or any of your teen's other teachers have any concerns, or have noticed any changes.
  • Organise a meeting with the school counsellor for you and your teen to discuss any problems.
  • If you are still concerned, consider contacting an independent counsellor to talk about the issues your teen is experiencing. If your teen will not attend with you, you can make an appointment for yourself.

When teens experience significant troubles, there are many services out there for support, including:

Each service provides private and confidential telephone and online counselling service to young people and their families.

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Last modified
20 April 2020