My teen is failing and doesn’t care

This week I’m on a desperately needed vacation with time away from my desk so I’ll make this short and sweet. 

One of the most common frustrations I hear from parents is their teen won’t do their schoolwork, like doesn’t even try, and worse yet, they don’t seem to care. 

You’re so frustrated and dumbfounded that your teen won’t even try, because it doesn’t make any sense, and nothing you’ve tried is working. 

I was your teen. 

I stopped trying in my grade 11 year and skipped almost every Monday that year, going from straight As to Fs and refusing to ask for or accept help. I remember that year so clearly and I’m here to tell you your teen isn’t lazy, and they do care. 

Let’s cut to the chase. 

Below is a segment of a webinar I was part of last November for parents of teens who were struggling in the traditional school system. As usual, I said exactly what I think and shared what parents can do to be part of the solution. 


12:00 – why setting expectations around grades with your teen makes the problem worse 

13:50 – the truth about motivation 

15:45 – why your teen won’t ask for help 

21:52 – how you unknowingly become part of the problem 

23:55 – the truth about expectations 

27:30 – the problem with focusing on WHAT your teen is doing and not getting curious about WHY they’re doing it 

33:12 – how to support your teen through this difficult time 

39:20 – so I just let them fail? 

Here’s 4 related articles explaining exact steps you can take to be your teen’s ally and advocate rather than judge and jury, why your teen refuses to try and my personal story of what you don’t see going on inside your teen. 

12 Tips for Back To School Success 

Apathy is a Coping Strategy 

Your Teen Won’t Try if it’s Not Safe to Fail 

10 Ways to Build Your Teen’s Confidence 

Remember this – when you see your teen’s internal struggle as defiance and laziness, you can’t be the support they need, and the problem gets worse. 

Join the conversation with other caring parents in my FREE parenting community on Facebook and get more perspectives, tips and strategies to help your teen find success on their terms. 

(Be sure to answer the membership questions and agree to the group and admin rules.) 

You don’t have to do this alone. 

4 Responses

  1. School isn’t for everyone. It sure wasn’t for me!
    I was burned out by grade 5, suicidal by grade 7 and spent my high school years and many years since seething with anger at the very thought of school.
    Forced education DOES NOT WORK because only some people have a use for what is taught.
    I had all the important basics by about grade 4. (reading,writing,basic math) From that point on school was completely redundant to me and I strongly believe I would have been much better off without it. Instead I’ll be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. Thanks school!

  2. OMG, I’m so sorry you had such a negative experience in school. Being forced to do anything doesn’t reap the value. I appreciate hearing your experience and your comment.

  3. Hi
    I need guidance. My son is 16 years now. Studies has never been his interest. He does not care about his studies . Now he has got into smoking and getting addicted. Can you please guide how to handle and help him get better before it’s too late

  4. Hi there, thank you for your comment. You’re welcome to schedule a session with me from the ‘Work with me’ menu above or check my FREE Resources to get started right away.

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