Your teenage or college-aged son or daughter isn’t doing as well in school as you know they’re capable of. Despite numerous talks with them, their assurances that they are genuinely trying and their promises that they will try even harder to do better, any improvements may be temporary at best. Or perhaps they admit that they know they should be doing better and are frustrated with themselves for not following through to make that happen. After a time, it can be easy for both the parent and the student to come to the conclusion that they are “just lazy.”
Although it cannot be denied that some individuals simply vary in their levels of motivation or maturity, it may not be as simple as assigning “ lazy” or” immature” labels to those who are underachievers. Sometimes there can be a hidden piece of the puzzle that hasn’t been previously identified that may be creating an invisible barrier to them reaching their potential. Depression, anxiety, attention-related issues, and differences in how an individual processes information are just a few puzzle pieces that could be playing a key role in their underachievement.
Here are a few questions to consider: How long have they been experiencing this difficulty – at what age, in what grade did this begin? Was anything unusual or significant occurring in their lives at that time? Was there a noticeable difference in their success in elementary school, middle school, high school, or college? Are they easily distracted? Do they become frustrated when attempting to study or complete homework in a particular subject? Do they seem to have good intentions (even in chores) but have perpetual difficulty following through? Is time management a problem or is arriving on time to appointments or class a challenge for them? Do they procrastinate until the last minute? Are they absent-minded or forgetful? When a subject or activity is interesting to them, is interactive, or is “hands on,” do they seem to be more successful? Does it seem as though the amount of time they spend on homework assignments or study is disproportionate to their success? Does it seem as though they learn material one day only to have forgotten it by the next day or to go blank on a test? Do they enjoy time with friends and being involved in activities or do they seem to spend a great deal of time alone? Are they constantly restless or fidgety? Do they have difficulty sitting still or concentrating for periods of time? Do they worry about not being able to succeed in their work? Do they have difficulty sleeping or do they seem to want to sleep all the time?
Students experiencing these types of symptoms are often bright and resourceful. Although those are positive attributes, it also increases the possibility that they may have managed to compensate relatively well until they have reached a particular threshold. If your teenager or college student would benefit from an evaluation to determine if another piece of the puzzle might be contributing to the challenges they are facing, contact Partners in Counseling, LLC and schedule an appointment with Anita Thomas Peters, LPC. Anita is a Licensed Professional Counselor who has extensive training and specialization in issues which can contribute to the frustration of underachievement. Just call 817-354-1234 to schedule an appointment.