Is Your Child Bored with School, or Just Angry?

Posted March 14, 2008 by

From time to time, kids will say that they’re bored of school. There’s some research that indicates that when some kids are bored, they’re actually mildly angry. And so, I think that kids do get angry with school, it is boring sometimes. They also don’t like the responsibility of all the assignments. As they get older, these assignments don’t appear to prepare them for the adult world and they resent it, and they resent having to do them.

But parents have to be able to tell their kids that it’s their responsibility to go to school. You need to be able to say, “You have to go to school even when you’re bored. That’s your responsibility. It’s not about the mood, it’s your responsibility. If you want it to be less boring, find some more interesting things to do there to balance it out.”

Sports might be the thing that helps your child find his comfort zone at school; for another child, it might be drama. Whatever it is, let your child know that this is a problem that’s possible for them to solve.


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  1. Report

    My daughter every morning fights not to go to school. She is almost 13 years old. Crying while i have to push her out the door. Well not literally but you get where I am comming from.  She tells me that she hates me.
    Very hurtful, and her reason is that I am bored and I hate the teachers.
    I dont know what to do anymore . Please help

  2. LDEurbana Report

    My son is 12 years old. He has always struggled in school because he finds it boring and “irratating.” I have went to the school at least once a year to observe him in class to see what the problems are. I knew he was bored because I was bored while I was there. The only thing is his personality is more open so he begins to do things that entertain him but disrupts the class. I’m concerned because it’s putting him further behind as the years go by. I can’t change his personality. He loves basketball but not even that has been enough motivation for him to stay on task with school work. He just shuts down and won’t try. I thought it was that he couldn’t do at first but when he does do the work and focuses he does well. He says the teachers irratate him if they tell him what to do. One of his teachers thinks he is depressed but I don’t see that at all. It’s just not enough stimulation for him. He loves fun and school is just not fun enough for him.

  3. Rebecca Staples, Parental Support Line Advisor Report

    Dear Angelaho,

    Meeting with your daughter’s school counselor, school social worker, or principal is a good next step. You might talk with those people about what your daughter’s options are for school. There might be alternative schools or online programs available for kids in your community who are thinking about dropping out. Sometimes these programs have different hours that allow kids to work as well as complete high school. Have a conversation with your daughter about your expectations and your concerns when it comes to her education. You can help her problem solve what her next step will be. I hope you are able to find a solution that works for you! Good luck to you.

  4. Angelaho Report

    My 16 year old daughter wants to stop schoolas she has shown no interest in her lessons.Now she wants to work.i have talk to the principle about her problem.we hope to keep her in school so that she is able to complete her study till next year.So now She will stop school but she has to come back next year to finish it.She made up her mind she doesnt want to go back.I do not know whether is a good ideaPlease help to find a good solution.

  5. megan Report

    Hi Tam – There is certainly a lot going on for your family. The Total Transformation program can help you and your son improve the situation, and the Support Line Specialists can work with you one on one to customize a plan. You might also read James’ articles on rules, boundaries, and older children, paying special attention to what James says about kids being afraid of becoming adults, and how that shows up in lack of follow through, and hiding out in their rooms: it is easier to do what you know, rather than branch out into something unknown. Look for it in the EP archives. To get things started in your home, you might choose one task for your son, such as finding a job. break that task down into the steps he needs to accomplish each day, and let him know that his video games will not be available to him until he has completed the task for that day. If he doesn’t finish the task, no games for that day, but he gets to try again the next day. Again, Support Line specialists and the total transformation program can really help you break this all down, and help your son improve. The program outlines ways you can act as your son’s coach without allowing him to spend the rest of his life on your couch! You might also read: and Good luck, and keep in touch.

  6. Tam Report

    My son will be 18 in a few days. He has been out of school since 10th grade.

    He was an honour roll and dean’s list student in elementary school. My husband and I sent him to a prep school for 6th grade but he got behind due to excessive absences. He would stay up late at night and was not able to get up in the morning and get to school on time. Nothing we tried for bedtime rules worked.

    Eventually, he started skipping classes but not leaving the campus. After a talk with the school counselor, we put him into therapy for depression.

    The therapist said he was highly intelligent and very manipulative. That he had manipulated the school counselor and me and my husband into believing he was depressed but his true motive was to get out of work. The therapist suggested different methods to try to change his behaviour, none of which were successful. Eventually, the prep school counselor suggested we place my son in public school as he did not fit into their program.

    I homeschooled my son for the rest of the semester and he started public school in 7th grade. From there on, his grades and his enthusiasm for study went completely downhill.

    In 10th grade, he refused to go back to school, saying he was failing and there was nothing he could do to bring up his grades. I made him get dressed and go but each morning he left the car in tears. After a month, I gave in and tried homeschool again. But, he would not do the work nor sit for home classes. I signed him up for correspondence classes, but unless I sat with him and practically did the work myself, he made no effort to even try, saying I took too long to explain lessons, was boring or went into too much detail. Each session would end in pointless discussion about his lack of enthusiasm for the subject matter. He would tell me he was so far behind that he was overwhelmed and he had no confidence that he could ever catch up. That he felt he was a failure.

    I tried to tell him that the longer he put schooling off, the harder it would be to get back into it. I gave examples of others who had fallen off track but persevered and gone on to success.

    While I believed he was overwhelmed to some extent, we had come up with a plan that would allow him to graduate only one year after his peers. I suspected that most of his complaints were excuses to get out of doing school work all together. Again, he is very smart and very manipulative in his ways.

    After two years of paying for correspondence courses that he did not finish, my husband told me to stop. All my son does now is sit at his computer and play video games or surf the net. His only chores are to take out the garbage and wash his clothes. We have to remind him constantly about the garbage and he gets around the clothes washing by wearing the same items for a week until we force him to bathe and wash or he unexpectedly does it on his own.

    He will do what we tell him if we keep after him for days on end, but has no initiative except for gaming. Because he stays at home and is always on the computer, he has no friends and no other interests. Not even in learning how to drive, which really has me worried.

    In addition to all of the above, he has a severe case of acne and although not overweight, his muscles are flabby and out of shape. This does not add to his self esteem. He won’t use the acne medication the dermatologist prescribed because he says it irritates his skin, yet will not go back to the dermatologist to get a milder version because he is too lazy.

    My husband has given up on him and says he is good for nothing. I try to talk with my son about responsibility and changing his behavior because he needs to be able to function on his own in society. He agress with all that I say, yet continues to procrastinate in all ways.

    His addiction to video games and the computer is frightening. I cannot interest him in anything else. Once an avid tennis player, he shows no interest in sports or other type activities. He has no hobbies other than the computer, wakes and sleeps at odd hours and only comes out of his room to eat or get something to drink. He talks about getting a GED and going to college but I believe he does so only because he knows that is what I want him to do.

    Aside from school and laziness, he is very well behaved. No screaming arguements, scenes or the troubles that most teens seem to go through with their parents. He is polite and well-spoken to others when we get him out of the house and other people are impressed with his manners and character.

    But, his lack of ambition and motivation, lack of interest in friends other than those online, worry me. I am afraid he is going through some type of depression and withdrawal from society and I don’t know how to get him back. When I talk to him about his lack of schooling, motivation to drive, lack of friends, he says once he gets his GED and starts college, all will fall into place. But he planned to start all that when he turned 18. Eighteen is a few days away and he is still procrastinating. The Total Transformation program looks great and I am willing to give it a try. But meanwhile, any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.


  7. Bridgetteciaj Report

    We are considering independent study/homeschooling for our almost 12 year old. He is a very bright kid who bores easily and reminds me way too much of myself. I skipped out of high school early with a proficiency exam and was angry with the exam being the bar of what was expected exclaiming “no wonder I was bored!” So I have a soft spot already for the struggles my son has. Currently in private school so he has a different angle, but still. Afraid of public shcool where he MIGHT get into a GATE program, but might not due to behavior issues. He loves to learn but hates the redundancy. Am considering doing the rest of this year on independent study as a test to see how it will go. Is this a huge mistake or a stroke of genius? Hubby and I are praying and researching for guidance.

  8. Carole Banks Report

    Yankeemother: It sounds like your son is really struggling with his behaviors at school. I’m sorry to hear its been so difficult for both of you. I’m trying to get a sense of the behaviors you say are a problem. It looks like you’re stating that your eight year old son is disrespectful to teachers and other students, sometimes calling the teachers names; he interrupts others; he gets under his desk during class; and has bitten and drawn blood from a teacher. Where you begin with these behaviors is not to ask yourself, “What punishment will fit these crimes?” As James Lehman says, punishment does NOT change behavior. Instead, think in terms of problem solving. What problem is your son trying to solve with these behaviors? Is the problem that he cannot control his impulses, his frustrations, his body during school? When behaviors are this frequent and this severe, consider getting a professional evaluation of your son to help you answer those questions. You might ask your pediatrician if he should be referred for a neuropsychological evaluation. When you know what problem he is trying to solve with his behaviors, you can coach him to recognize his triggers. James talks about trigger management in the program to change his faulty thinking (Lesson 5). You can then coach him to use specific skills to manage his behavior. The evaluation will help you and your son know what skills he should focus on. If he has these tools and refuses to try to use them, those are the times when you would encourage him to try something else rather than experience a consequence for choosing not to use his skills. I hope this is helpful. Please keep in touch and let us know how it goes.

  9. yankeemother Report

    My son is and has been an angel since starting the TTP. No problems at home, public, other friends or family homes but school has worsened so bad that in the past two weeks he’s on his third suspension, one was for a week long continuous battle of not listening, being mouthy and disrespectful, not keeping his hands to himself, the second suspension was for calling the teacher a ‘jerk’ and the third suspension was for biting a teacher so hard that he drew blood just because she was pulling out from underneath his desk (which he does when he knows he’s in trouble) I don’t understand the problem, all the teachers involved in his everyday schedule at school say that he just defies any and all requests given to him. I don’t get it and am at a loss and scared that he’s going to have to repeat 1st grade again. (He’s already had to repeat pre-k for all the school he missed for behavior and looking at having to do it again. And to top it off, his grades are all straight A’s and is going to be recommended for talented & gifted reading next year!

  10. Lillie Report

    We’re in the middle of countdown to senior finals and graduation. There are 4 wks of school left and we worry
    our 18yr old daughter will not make graduate. She’s in therapy and has been since last fall. I’m not sure it’s helping? Hubby & I are hanging in there. If she doesn’t graduate, we won’t be happy about it, but between our-selves, my husband and I, we have resolved that if she
    does not graduate, it is not going to be the end of the road, it will just be a different path. We’ve come to
    realize we are not in control of everything and everyone
    only ourselves. We’ve tried and inspite of our best and
    sometimes our worst efforts our daughter is the only one
    who is responsible if she does not continue to make the
    effort to complete her work and finish her senior year.
    I know we will be sad if she doesn’t finish and graduate.I
    But I have no peppy encouragement or angry words left.
    The only words I can think of are “so it is and so it
    shall be” or “so be it”.

  11. Laura Finney Report

    As I read the articles of parents seeking the perfect
    answer to get their child to measure up I remember all I tried and watched others try. My son now 19, still wants t be in charge an independant thinker and defiant to the
    What I learned works the best focus on what you like in the child and realize he is different but that does not mean that there is not a place to find success. School is only one piece of the puzzle and not the final career.

  12. Niki Report

    I’m at the end of my rope. My son, Ryan, is 13 years old and he’s a great kid – very kind and well-behaved at home and at school. He just refuses to do any of his school work and is at risk of failing 7th grade. He lies about assignments and tests; and tries to hide graded work. ONe of his problems may be that he loves to be outdoors – constantly – and he’s ina building all day (with almost no windows), then gets home to do more homework. So, we’ve decided to homeschool him next year and our #1 goal for him is to get back his love of learning. Any ideas on how to accomplish this?

  13. Lisa Report

    Our 13-year old son has struggled since his first day of middle school last fall. He got suspended three times for being defiant and disrespectful to teachers and administrators. He also refused to do his school work and many times refused to go at all. After his third suspension, we pulled him out to home-school him for the rest of the year. We are having trouble getting him to do that on a daily basis and nothing we do seems to get him to change his behavior. He refuses to talk about why he doesn’t want to be at school, either to us or to the three counselors we have taken him to. It has been suggested to us that he is gifted and he is taking the gifted test next week, so he is very capable of doing the work, and has gotten straight A’s in the past. Any suggestions regarding how to get him to realize how important school is and how his behavior is affecting his future?

  14. james Report

    Liz » You seem to be in a really tough situation. Unfortunately, you are not alone. Many parents face situations like these, where because of separations and divorces, their kids get double messages about school. Often this does not come from parents actually having different views of school. Rather, this comes from parents acting out, and from one parent trying to get back at the other–so they take a contrarian posture to things they know the other parent values.
    Your choices here are very clear. One: you can keep fighting. The other is that you can let her go to her father’s house. That choice will depend on how you want to handle it. Neither is very effective in getting your daughter to value her education. If you keep fighting with her, my experience is that she’ll get stronger, because fighting with kids validates them and makes them feel more powerful. If you let her go to her father’s, there’s a good chance she’s going to fall on her face—in other words, the same behaviors are going to emerge at her father’s house, because the only thing that’s changed is her geography. My experience suggests that once that happens, he won’t want her there anymore, and she’ll probably be back with you. I think that I would let her go to her father’s if that’s what she chooses to do. I would let her know that she’s welcome to come home, but only under your rules about school. And one of those rules certainly has to be, “Stop complaining.” What I suggest to parents whose kids complain a lot is to assign them a complaint time. So you can say, “From 7:30-7:40, you can complain all you want, but after that, you have to hold it to the next day.” When kids complain outside of that period, there’s a simple answer, “Save it till tonight.” So you don’t have to get into the whole explanation and argument again. Kids learn a lot from that kind of simple exercise.

    On a personal note: Stick with the Master’s Degree. It’s one of the best things I ever did.

  15. Liz Report

    I have tried to impress upon my 13-year-old daughter that school is her responsibility. She seems to have given up on herself. Now, she says she wants to leave the school she has attended since kindergarten and live with her father an hour away. He does not consider school a priority at all and has told her so. He hated school as a teen and proudly announces his disdain for academics altogether. This is completely opposite from my home, where she now lives. I am currently pursuing my Master’s Degree. I fear she will try to leave home to get away from school demands and house rules. I require her to have her homework done before she can socialize. Please don’t suggest that I speak with her father. He has made his position clear. What would be the most effective way to handle this?

  16. Kim Report

    Who ever wrote this article doesn’t understand how boring Arkansas schools are. They teach them the basics and that is it. Have they even looked at how Arkansas is performing compared to the nation? My kid isn’t angry, he is bored to death!

  17. yore Report

    i have a 16yrs son that is not serious with his books but liked wearing new clothes everyday what do i do to stop him and to be with his books


  18. Shundra M. Kufner Report

    I have a 12yr. old son(ODD) that cannot stay on task. He just got his report card for the third semester and although his grades have improved, they are not significant enough for him to pass to the 7th grade. His teachers say that he doesn’t apply himself. He doesn’t like school and he blames others for his failures. I have a 10yr. old daughter who is an honor roll student and another son who is 6yrs. old and I am starting to see the early signs of ODD in him. One of the things that I’ve learned is to do for the boys is to physically have the tasks written out for them to do and let them check them off as they go. Although, we haven’t done this very long it seems to help my oldest. Still working on the younger son. 🙂

  19. ms. love Report

    i am a mother of six. three adult daughters,one semi- adult son (18) and two minor sons. i say that my 18 year old son is semi- adult because at this age in my opinion, he is not truly mentally prepared for adult responsibity. in some ways he appears to be ready, but actually 18 is much too soon to be called an adult. he still in his teens.i think he should still be addressed as a teenager because that is what he is in,his teens. i think that he is very bored and confused with school and with this new role as an adult. he also is very opinionated and daily suggests that his opinions are law. one, because he is 18(wow i am an adult)and i can make decisions because of this. two, i can run the household with an iron fist. even though mom constantly wants to be there for him in these trying times of his entrance into adulthood. i still want to set up boundaries and enforce rules to him as well. the other minor brothers of the household are getting caught up in this battle with us.there is always something going on with his attendance and i truly understand because he has not yet learned to hurry with speed. when i say hurry i mean move quicker and do things faster than at your normal pace. if he is not doing it at home, that explains why he can’t get to class on time.sometimes he is on the ball. then other times he sinks into a depressive stage where everything i say gets on his nerves rather than vice-versa. in short, i think that my choice of suggesting he see a therapist is appropriate. but when do we call to make the appointment? right now? i cannot wait any longer and he is getting worse. i am getting short-circuited, about to explode! in a one parent household it is getting unbearable for me to relax while he is home. i enjoy our quarters so much more when he is away. should i put him out so he can experience adulthood? he really seems to be very unhappy here. he is bored at home and at school and very very angry.

  20. momof three Report

    Did any of you ever consider homeschooling as a option? Our children have never been in a public school because of the type of instances you described above. Seem the staff and administration is hostile towards the students before they even get to the classroom and then don’t want to follow through there either.

  21. Julie Report

    I am a mother of two children still in elementary school, however I am concerned by the comments of the above two parents regarding their high school staff members. I recently moved into a new neighborhood, which has me searching and listening for information regarding the middle and high schools my children will be entering. I have had two situations which were from different individuals who both have HUGE concerns regarding our HIGH SCHOOL office staff members. Both situations indicate that the office has been very unforthcoming regarding collecting homework for students who are out of school for a period of time. I wonder what it is about the high school level that the administration in the schools become less than helpful for both students and parents. If they have the attitude that the students are old enough to take care of things on their own, that is to be commended to a point. However, don’t we hire them to be sure that things don’t fall through the cracks? If the students don’t take the responsibility and the parents are their insisting they get the work, isn’t that why they have their jobs is to be sure that the requests are being filled regardless if they feel it is their “job”?

  22. Peggy Shannon Report

    I think you’re right – boredom and anger often go hand-in-hand. My son has struggled with school for many years in this way. Our daughter decided (at 18) to quit school her senior year because of just this same thing – and lack of motivation. They’ve had good role modeling – at 52 I’m working on my Masters degree and their father is often in further training for his job. Anyway, since our daughter quit school, her brother has been hearing things like “You’re going to be a drop-out just like your sister” and similar statements from the dean of students and others in the high school administration. Recently he was called to the dean’s office because an item was stolen from one of his fellow students and he was “in the area at the time along with some other students.” I was told that all of those students would be questioned. He was angry that they thought he might have taken the item, but was further incensed when he discovered that none of these “other students” were questioned. Needless to say, this is making him more angry and not just bored. We are looking into cyber school at the moment as one answer to the situation. I’ve never been a parent who looks elsewhere for responsibility when my children get in trouble at school – I look to them first and they know it. However, I wonder what steps to take with the school, if any, for their part in pushing my child further out the door. He doesn’t want me to do anything because he then pays a price. This is true as I intervened last year when he was in a bullying situation by another student that he and we were not able to get under control, and that intervention just made his life worse. The administratiion at his high school doesn’t seem to have a policy of confidentiality. Any suggestions?

  23. gram Report

    Hi, in regards to your above category, what do you think of a high school principal who thinks the students academic and social life comes before their health? The reason I ask is this… granddaughter has asthma plus a few more health problems. She is in a wheelchair due to being born with Caudal Regression Syndrome w/ Sacralagenisis, (1/2 a back and spinal cord.) so she has no use of her legs and walks on her hands and uses her chair. She had a bout with vertigo for a couple months where she could not lie down all the way, (she gets catherized due to a bladder augmentation),she has asthma and when she gets a cold she is home for about a week or few days more. Her principal thinks she should be in school when this is going on …I told her that my granddaughters health is more important than her academics or social life. After all if she’s not feeling well she can’t do her work…..What do you think of this principal?….
    thank you …. please send answer to my email address….



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