Academic Underachievement

Academic Underachievement

Most parents value academic achievement, and encourage their child to put forth his or her best effort in school. What should be done, however, when a child seems to be struggling, with poor grades and/or a lack of motivation? Academic issues may have many causes, including undiagnosed learning disabilities, and a thorough evaluation by a qualified professional may be in order for some children. If learning disabilities are ruled out, other causes of your child’s poor grades may be difficulty paying attention (ADHD) or Depression.

Helping Children with Academic Underachievement

If a child struggles for too long, he or she may come to believe “I am just not smart”, and stop trying to improve his or her grades. Self-esteem can suffer when a child sees their peers and/or siblings doing well in school, and receiving praise and recognition for their achievement. Some children may find other areas in which they excel such as art, drama, or sports. For others, however, their academic struggles may set them up for a lifetime of setting low expectations, limited job opportunities, financial difficulties, and even alcohol or drug abuse.

Counseling can get to the root of your child’s academic issues. Recommended interventions for children experiencing academic underachievement include a combination of individual and family counseling, incorporating cognitive and behavioral techniques. If an initial assessment indicates ADHD or Depression, these issues will be addressed in counseling. Techniques may include effective study habits, help with organization, positive reinforcement from family, expression of feelings about school through artwork, and improving self-esteem. If the family is undergoing life stressors, family counseling sessions can help a child work through these feelings and improve coping. Together, these techniques will help improve a child’s self-esteem and sense of mastery at school.

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