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When grades start dropping, the reasons may be complex

Parents and teenagers have very different feelings about the school report; the former want to know exactly how well their teenager is doing, welcoming the information; the latter dread what may be said on the report and how bad the grades may be. Many schools have now developed online reporting systems that are continuously updated and text or e mail alerts to tell parents that their teens' grades are ready to read. No longer can a teenager lose a bad report card and keep their parent in the dark about their progress.

Teenager' grades can be a source of great conflict between the teen and their parents. It is, however, more significant when a teenager suddenly starts getting reports saying that their grades are dropping. It is likely that parents will be alerted to this by the school as soon as it starts happening, rather than waiting for the end of the semester.

The parent may well be upset and annoyed that their teenager has a bad report, especially if they are coming to the end of high school and making college applications. Rather than lose their temper, a parent needs to get to the bottom of the problem. If the bad grades have been accompanied by defiant and aggressive behavior, then this may be a serious issue that goes deep. If, generally the teen seems happy, then the parent needs to identify what has changed since the last report.

A major culprit for dropping grades is when a teenager falls in love; their time is spent day dreaming, or with their boyfriend/girlfriend and homework and school work suffers. A new group of friends who do not expect to go to college and are disenchanted with high school may be the influencing factor. A change in teacher in certain subjects or a substitute teacher for a period of time can have an impact. If the teenager is being bullied, then their grades will fall as they are unable to concentrate properly, due to fear.

Whatever the issues are, the parent needs to find them out and put some remedies in place. If this is part of a pattern of defiant and angry behavior, the parents may need outside help and the teen may need therapy, counseling or residential treatment. If the causes are more temporary and recent, the teenager needs parental support to get back on track. Quiet time to do homework, a tutor for subjects they find difficult, and lots of praise and encouragement from the parents will all help the teenager to bring their grades back up. The next report, if better, needs to be celebrated; teenagers need to see that hard work pays off, and that they have earned their parents congratulations.

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