How Do I Approach My Teen's Bad Grades?

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"My daughter just turned 16. We’ve been struggling with her grades for two years. I got her newest report card & she’s still sitting on 3 F’s. She’s got zero desire to study even though we’ve offered help from 4 adults, private tutoring, tutoring from us & her older sister ( she’s a straight-A student ). We’re trying to get her to practice driving, but she has zero motivation to do that even after her father bought her a car. She’s got no motivation to do anything that she doesn’t want to do. I’m at a loss because she’s 16, and she has no plan, no motivation to do anything other than talking to her online friends. She doesn’t want to hear anything from us, especially if it differs from what her online friends say. I’m worried she’s not going to graduate; I’m worried she’s not going to be able to cope with adult life. I’m worried for her. I’ve dragged her out of her room to do things, making her put job applications in. I finally told her yesterday I’m no longer putting the extra effort in to worry about her grades. If she doesn’t care, then why should I? I told her she needs to get a part-time job b/c if she isn’t going to do anything else, she can at least work on social skills & saving money because she’s going to need it later. My question is, how would you all approach this? What would your plan be to get your teenager moving & motivated? I should also add she does have bipolar as well. She’s been on medication that is doing great for her mood & sleep, etc."

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The following top answers have been selected by a moderator from hundreds of responses to the original question.

"Maybe she’s being bullied at school and doesn’t want to tell anyone. Or she feels it’s a trigger and overwhelming Is there an option for online learning . Public school is a one for all and some students just do better with a curriculum more suited to them. Online gives more flexibility and options for this . Maybe Ask her if she’d at least be willing to give it a try."

"She could have depression in with the bipolar. Make sure she isn’t misdiagnosed, because becoming distant and isolating herself could be more than just bipolar. I would make sure it’s not disassociative disorder. Good luck, sending positive vibes and blessings to you."

"My daughter felt the same. Then she went to the Alternative School and became a star."

"I think you should get her in therapy and it’s probably time to revisit the medication to see if they’re really working. I will probably cut the internet for a month. Do homework together and volunteer community service together. Try to introduce her to different settings to help her define what she enjoys."

"Sounds like me when I was younger. I also have Bipolar Disorder. It was depression hiding. Get that checked asap!! It might be depression. The medication for Bipolar is not depression meds…even tho some of them help with it. Its better to be on 2 different meds to help with each issue. That might help! A lot."

"Maybe don’t compare your children? Each is different with their own skills and talents. Maybe she hasn’t found hers yet. It sounds like a medication adjustment could be made. Either dosage or just something different. I am also bipolar and struggle daily with motivation. Sometimes a simple adjustment of meds can work wonders. I’m sorry she’s hurting/struggling. It can be heartbreaking to watch."

"Does she go to a therapist/counselor if not do so immediately. Medicate the disorder. Don’t push driving. Take the car don’t take the car is irrelevant honestly. She needs to know you are with her not against her bipolar is tough to maneuver. Oh and stop comparing her to her straight A sister"

"My son was the same way about school. Not because he had behavior issues but because he wasn’t interested in normal school learning. So I put him in a trade school that had stuff he was actually interested in learning. Now he is excelling and is going to graduate this year"

"I would say her medication isn’t working properly or needs to be adjusted. I would discuss this in a family session with the the counselor. She sounds like she’s on a low down swing. Please consult with a mental health professional."

"Sometimes school clicks later in life for some. My kids did much better in university than high school. All you can do is encourage and hope a light comes on one day."

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