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Is My Child an Underachiever?


teen girl

Underachievers  come from a variety of economic, social and ability levels. Often, they are kids who have potential but don't perform at their optimal skill level. Many underachievers have high IQ's. Unfortunately, kids who underachieve can get into trouble at home and school and may be labeled as lazy and noncompliant.  Some factors that may contribute to underachievement are ADHD, poor health, sleep issues, family chaos and visual problems.






Is my child an underachiever?

Detecting underachievement is tricky. Some kids fall through the cracks because the signs are too subtle to pick up. For instance, if a child is still performing in school, though not at her potential, her underachieving behavior may be missed, especially since teachers often focus on kids who are at the extreme end of the spectrum.

Some kids do well academically until they get to high school or middle school. Then it's not "cool" to be an achieving student. They may succumb to peer pressure and skip class or let grades slip like their friends.

if your child performs exceptionally well on standardized tests but does not do well with every day school work, she may be an underachiever. Or if you know that your child has a high IQ but is failing classes, this may also be a sign.

And if your child suffers from low self-esteem, he may be an underachiever. Kids who are given the message early in life that they aren't good enough, create a self-fulfilling prophecy and live up to their low expectations.

How can I help my underachieving child?

First, play detective and assess your child's behavior. Ask questions. Has your child always done poorly in class? Did your child slip off the academic rails recently, after changing a classroom, grade or school? Does your child have a high IQ but act "lazy"? What type of expectations have you put on your child? Does your child have low self-esteem? Is your child in poor health or struggling visually? Once your know the reasons why your child is underachieving, you can step in and effectively deal with the problem.

Role model. Show your child what it looks like to be an achiever. Talk about projects that you accomplish at work. Communicate about the sense of pride you feel when doing chores. Try your best in life. In addition, model self compassion. Sometimes life is hard, and we don't do as well as we would like. Don't walk around the house berating yourself. Demonstrate self compassion and keep a positive attitude.

Support and encourage your child. Support your child with love and acceptance. Give positive feedback any time you see your child making an effort, whether it be school work, extracurriculars or chores. Don't forget to see the positive aspects of your child's behavior. Sometimes, parents get into a cycle of only pointing out negative behaviors to their kids. Children can become discouraged and hopeless. Keep the lines of communication open. Maybe your child has some social issues at school or is experiencing anxiety. You'll never know if you don't communicate. And if it's difficult for you to talk with your child, seek out a school counselor or family therapist for assistance.

Communicate with school personnel. Keep open communication with teachers and school counselors. If necessary, hold your child accountable by setting up some type of daily assignment check off sheet. It's important that your child eventually learn to manage her own school work, but she may need some initial guidance.

Don't battle over school. As frustrated as you may feel, don't turn school into a battle. The more you argue and battle over school work, the less motivated your child will be. If he is experiencing anxiety or social problems, the battles will make him feel more hopeless. Maybe he's incredibly good at science and math but struggles with writing. Battles will only fuel his frustration and lack of confidence.

By staying consistent, communicative an compassionate, you can turn your child's underachieving behavior around.



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