Kids & School: How to Combat the Spring Slump and “Senioritis”

By RebeccaW, Parent Coach

Ahh, springtime!  In many parts of the country, that means we can look forward to warming temperatures, flowers starting to poke through the ground — and here on the parent coaching, we get questions like this: “My child is in a slump at school. How do I keep him motivated through the end of the school year?”

Senioritis, also known as “senior slump” or “senior slide,” is that tricky condition that tends to affect kids’ motivation in the last part of the school year — especially their senior year.  Once college, work or other plans are made and midterms are complete, lots of kids act like they want to take the rest of the year off from school.  Parents find themselves battling with their children to stay on track until the end in order to help their kids avoid the natural , unpleasant consequences that come from this attitude.   So what can you do?

James Lehman talks about the three effective parenting roles: Trainer/Coach, Problem Solver and Limit Setter.  These roles all work together to help you become a more effective parent and to work through many common child behavior issues.  With the Trainer/Coach role, the focus is on helping your child keep their “eyes on the prize” and continue moving forward toward a goal.  This might involve saying things like “I know you don’t like this class/teacher/subject, but you’ve made it this far and you only have a few more weeks left.” (Learn more information here about the Trainer/Coach role.)

The Problem Solver role really focuses on developing new skills through learning how to solve problems more effectively.  With the problem solving role, you take on helping your child to break down the obstacles that are in the way of your child achieving a goal.  On the Support Line, we encourage parents to let their child take a more active role in solving their problems, while the parent points out potential obstacles.  What that might look like is asking more questions, and letting your child come to his/her own conclusions.  For example, instead of saying “You need to stop skipping school and go to class,” you might say, “Attendance is part of your overall grades.  You seem to be having a hard time making it to your classes after lunch.  What is going on for you?  What are you going to do differently tomorrow to make sure you make it to class?”

The Limit Setting role involves creating rules and expectations for your child and following through on holding your child accountable if he or she does not meet those standards.  This means keeping up with homework structure for the whole year, and not extending privileges if your child is not doing what is expected, even if he or she is angry or upset with you.  Using the same example of your child skipping school, that would mean consistently following through on not allowing use of the cell phone that evening if he or she was not present in school all day.  (Learn more information about the Problem Solver/Limit Setter roles.)

Of course, there are natural consequences for your child if he or she decides to take the rest of the year off, such as not graduating on time, deferred acceptance or academic probation from their post-secondary program, trouble finding a job, or simply declining study skills.  By using these roles effectively with your child, you can help your child to avoid these consequences after graduation.

About RebeccaW, Parent Coach

Rebecca Wolfenden is a loving Momma to her son and a dedicated EmpoweringParents Parent Coach. She earned her degree in Social Work from West Virginia University and has been with Empowering Parents since 2011. Rebecca has experience working with children and families in home settings and schools, and has extensive practice working with people of all ages who have survived significant emotional and physical trauma.

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