What Can Parents Do With Their Teens to Influence Success in School?

Every parent wants their teen to succeed in school, but you might be at a loss as to how you can help out. After all, you can't take your son's geometry test for him. Instead, help your teen set the right academic goals and work with him to make sure he follows-through. You can't do his homework, but you can help set him on a path that leads to academic success.

Set Goals

Pushing your teen too hard could backfire if she feels as though your expectations are unrealistic. Instead, work with your teen to help her set goals that are both achievable and inspiring. Long- and short-term goals are necessary for academic success because the short-term goals help her see the immediate results while contributing to the longer-term goal. At the beginning of each school term, sit down with your teen and come up with specific goals for the semester along with an action plan for each goal, suggests a 2010 "Psychology Today" article. For instance, aim to improve one grade level in math or master verbs in French through extra study time. Those can contribute to a larger goal of attending a desirable college.

Get Involved

Learn as much about your teen's education as possible. Everything from what teacher he has for English to how he's doing in shop class should be on your radar. That way, you'll know immediately when a problem arises. Stay involved with homework and projects and keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your teen's educator. It's OK to offer help when your teen needs it, as long as you're not doing your teen's homework for him, according to HealthyChildren.org, an American Academy of Pediatrics website 1. If you have a hands-off approach to education, you might not know when to step when a problem surfaces.

Offer Rewards

Your teen doesn't need a new car for an A in science, but offering rewards in the form of praise, more responsibility and freedom and the occasional material good can definitely help motivate your teen. Keep tabs on your teen's schoolwork and offer rewards when he succeeds -- even praise can be enough to keep your teen motivated, notes the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Cooperative Extension newsletter, "Gateway." Handling a difficult course load might mean a night out at the movies, while a solid grade at the end of the term could mean loosening curfew rules a little. Praise and rewards can help motivate your teen to try a little harder for the positive feedback.

Back Off

While staying involved in your teen's academics is for the best, you can be too involved. Making excuses for a teen when she's missed an assignment or doing the work for her when she's stressed means you're going too far. Think of yourself as a cheerleader or coach in your teen's academics -- not one of the substitute players. Allowing your teen to take responsibility for her hits and misses can encourage achievement and help her learn that she's responsible for her performance.