What to do if your Teen wants to Drop out of School

The teen years are a difficult time for adolescents and their parents. The growing teen is beginning to think of himself as an adult. Parents become increasingly obsessed with making sure the teen is preparing for her long-range future, not just for the next two or three years. As teens and parents begin to see things differently, conflict arises.

Some teens become frustrated with school if they are struggling with two or more subjects. If a teen fails a course or two, he realizes these courses must be retaken before he is allowed to progress. To a young person, a few months feels like a few years. Teens make rash decisions without thinking through the long-range consequences.

What can parents do if their teen announces that he is quitting school?

The first thing parents should do is ask the teen why. Find out if your teen is feeling overwhelmed by difficult subjects. It may be that the teen is embarrassed about falling behind and not graduating with his senior class. Could a tutor help your child get back on track?

There are many after-school programs that can work with your child until she is back on course. The Kumon Method has centers all around the US. After School Learning Enrichment is another approach to building skills your teen may need to get back on grade level. Talk to the school principal to find out about local opportunities for remediation.

Talk with your son or daughter’s teachers to find out whether or not your child is applying himself at school. Ask whether your child has taken up with a different crowd of students who are influencing your daughter to drop out of school. A school counselor may have some insight as to your son’s frame of mind. Enlist the school counselor to help persuade your child to remain in school.

Peer pressure is the most difficult reason to counter. Teens put a lot of stock into what their friends are saying and doing. To break the hold that your son’s peers may hold over your child, it might be time for a hard life lesson.

Painting a bleak picture for a teen drop-out

If your child is adamant about dropping out, it is time for a field trip through low-rent apartment housing and areas where renters earn minimum wage. Drive slowly through these areas, asking your teen if this is where he intends to live for the rest of his life. Explain that an education is the only ticket to a future with higher expectations. Note any small children playing in these areas. Ask your daughter if this is what she wants for her future children.

Point out the lack of cars and trucks in low-rent areas and/or the older model vehicles that are present. Talk about the things your child has now that he will have to give up if he drops out of school.

Showing the alternatives

Take a drive through a more affluent community. Point out the nice houses and newer model vehicles. Also discuss the fact that a person must work hard for many years before he can afford to live in such a community. Everything in life is gained one day at a time making the right choices.

Laying down the options

Let your teen know that deciding to drop out of school doesn’t mean he gets to sit around and watch television or play computer games. Let him know that he is expected to get a job and move out within a set number of weeks. Sit down with him and write out a budget based on minimum wage. He will see that the life he imagines isn’t possible. 

Even if you decide to let your child live at home, tell her what expenses she will be expected to pay. Pro-rate rent based on the one room she will be living in. Make her pay for her food, utilities, clothes, personal items, etc. Your daughter will realize that there is no money left for entertainment. Take away all computers, phones and other communication devices you have paid for. Tell your child she can purchase these items from you if she desires.

Other factors to consider

If your teen is under the age of compulsory education, make sure he knows that a parent will be spending time in jail until he gets back into school. If this happens, you will likely lose your job, putting the family home in jeopardy and perhaps any vehicles that are financed. Tell your child that you will have no other option but to call the authorities.

If a daughter is pregnant, she can still remain in school until she graduates. There are also night classes she can attend as well as parenting classes at most schools. Children can also take classes online. Talk to her about the statistics for unwed mothers who drop out of school.

In the end, there is little that can be done if a child is determined to quit school. Although he is sent to school, a parent can’t make him study or do the required work. However, a parent does have the power to make life as difficult as possible for the child until she decides to return to school and actually apply herself. No law says that parents have to supply computers, phones, iPods or Kindles. New shoes and clothes should also be withheld until a child returns to school.

Usually, a few months living as the adult the child is not ready to be will change his mind. Remember, it is never too late to return to school or obtain a GED. All hope is not lost.

Avoid screaming and don’t demand that the child do as you say. The teen is growing up and should be talked to as the adult he is becoming. Make valid points that can be backed up with statistics and research studies. Stand your ground, but don’t become obnoxious.

Don’t beg or bribe your child to stay in school. This sets a precedent that the child will use against parents for the rest of their lives. Lay down the facts, your expectations and the consequences. Let the hard facts of life prove themselves.