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Why Do Kids Suddenly Struggle In School?

Why Do Kids Suddenly Struggle In School?

There are a plethora of reasons why kids may suddenly begin to struggle in school. The teenage brain is not yet fully developed, and will not reach full development until age twenty-five, at the earliest. A teenager relies heavily on the amygdala (the area of the brain associated with impulses, emotions, aggression, instinctive behavior, and plays a role in sexual activity and libido) when reacting to certain stimuli whereas an adult relies on the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain that is involved in planning, self-control, and decision making) when reacting to the same stimuli. Hence, teenagers instinctively react to stimuli emotionally and often without any consideration of foresight or rational thought. Adolescence is a time in a young person’s life that is filled with intense pressures, immense physiological growth, surging hormones, and a newfound need for autonomy. Teenagers are designed to test limits, push boundaries, and engage in behaviors that help them discover their true selves and begin to cultivate a moral compass. 

Often the reason young people struggle in school can be attributed to a confluence of contributing factors that may occur both in and/ or outside of the school setting. Some common examples of teenage stress triggers that may negatively impact a young person’s academic performance, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, could include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Excessive schoolwork (e.g., homework, projects, exams, etc.)
  • Extracurricular commitments
  • Problems with school friends and/ or peers
  • Low self-esteem
  • Separation or divorce of parents
  • Body changes
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being overscheduled 
  • Family financial problems
  • Moving 
  • Switching school
  • Learning disabilities

The combination of triggers that can cause a young person to struggle in school will be unique to each teenager. School is intended to provide students with a safe environment to learn. It is a place that enables young people to explore their own identity, discover how they wish to interact with the world around them, and learn a slew of difficult lessons. Although school is meant to challenge young people, it is also a place to nurture and support the growth and development process of our youth. It is impossible for a young person to move through his or her adolescence without having to face an array of teenage struggles, some of which may present as a decline in one’s academic performance.

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


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