Reasons Why Teenagers Don't Do Well in School

As much as you want your teen to succeed in high school, this is not always the case. Your teen might struggle in school due to stress, family or relationship issues or concerns or because he is focusing on something else. The primary way to help your teen improve his school performance is to pinpoint the reason that he is struggling. Addressing the problem and providing assistance through counseling, additional parental support and direct cooperation with teachers can improve how your teen achieves in school.

Lack of Sleep

According to a poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America, more than 25 percent of teens have fallen asleep in school. The Mayo Clinic states that teens should get nine hours of sleep at night for maximum performance, but few actually get this much rest. Experts have determined that lack of sleep directly contributes to poor grades and impacts performance in athletics. It's important for your teen to establish a bedtime routine to ensure he gets enough sleep each night. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and sugary foods and beverages makes it easier to fall asleep at night. Experts also advise falling asleep in the dark and using a white noise machine or fan to help fall asleep if the silence is a concern.

Family Concerns

Things that happen at home with the family directly impact your teen's performance in school. Fights with parents or siblings are a distraction and take the focus off homework, studying and paying attention in class. Some teens also carry the burden of taking care of siblings or dealing with going through major changes such as a move or experiencing their parents' divorce.

Too Busy

Your teen might be too busy to give enough focus to his schoolwork. Between sports, clubs, other extracurricular activities, spending time with friends and even holding down a part-time job, some teens place school on the back burner of priorities. It can be difficult for your teen to find a way to balance everything that he is involved in. You might find that his grades are suffering due to extra practices being scheduled in preparation for a big game, or because he has a large event coming up in another one of his activities.


Teens also do poorly in school due to the large influence of technology. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average child between the ages of 8 and 18 spends more than seven hours each day using entertainment media, which amounts to more than 10 hours per day when multitasking is taken into account. This adds up to more than 53 hours a week, which is a far cry from the recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that children and teens over 2 should limit usage to no more than two hours per day of TV viewing, and warn against hours wasted on a computer as well.


Your teen might feel that school is not worth the effort and he doesn't apply himself completely, especially if you reinforce these views and don't encourage healthy studying habits. Your teen can also go through a period of rebellion as a way to express himself to sources of authority.

Difficulty with Material

Your teen might also be suffering from a disability that makes certain subjects or aspects of school difficult to tolerate. Teens with an undiagnosed disability can feel awkward in social situations or feel like they are "stupid" or "dumb" when compared to their peers. Learning disabilities make it difficult to read, write and process information 5. If you suspect your teen has a learning disorder, it is best to get him evaluated as soon as possible, since early detection is best.