Why Do Teens Fail in School?

Why is my teen failing in school? They are capable of good grades yet barely passing.

Is your smart teen failing in school? Underachieving? Not doing their homework?

Finding out your intelligent teen has failing grades and may not be passing can be extremely stressful and frustrating. Failed classes lead to a lower GPA as well as may delay them graduating from high school. If your teen has a first-choice college that requires a higher GPA, lagging behind in school can also affect this. Once your teen starts falling behind, catching up can be difficult — when grades begin to plummet, many teens give up.


If your teen is failing a class—or they’ve already failed the entire semester—take action. There are several things you can do to address the issue.

Why is my teen failing?

Once you realize your teen is failing a class or in danger of not passing, it’s time to sit down and discuss the problem.  Ask your teen for help uncovering the they are not passing. Some students who start out strong get distracted, while others just aren’t motivated to stay on track. Maybe your teen gets involved in a wrong peer group.

Talk to your teen and examine whether or not any of these issues have contributed to a failing grade.

1. Are the classes too hard?  Is your teen in gifted or AP classes? Sometimes teens are places in classes that are just too difficult and they become stressed and overwhelmed.

2. Are they not doing their homework? Many smart teens are capable of passing tests yet fail to turn in their homework which can result in a failing grade. Find out if the homework is being completed or not turned in on time.

3. Are they getting low test scores? In some situations, smart teens don’t score well on tests due to test anxiety while others aren’t sure how to study for tests.

4. Is your teen under a lot of stress? Especially in today’s world, stress has become a factor with young people. If your teen is stressed out, they may have difficulty concentrating and completely their work.

5. Could a mental health issue be part of the problem?  Teen depression and anxiety has doubled since 2019. It’s a growing concern for teens and often contributes to failing grades. Substance abuse issues can also be a factor in declining grades. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disabilities can impact concentration, motivation, comprehension, and memory – especially if they go undiagnosed.

Work together to develop a plan to address failing grades. Discuss possible strategies to help them improve their grade, such as arranging for tutoring. If they’re not able to pass the class, talk to the school about alternative options such as summer school or adult education classes.

Also read:

5 Benefits of Boarding Schools for Troubled Teens

How Bullying Impacts Teenage Mental Health


If you’ve exhausted your local resources and your smart teen is struggling academically, as well as emotionally, learn more about the benefits of residential treatment and how it can help your teen. Contact us for more information.

Sources: VeryWellFamily


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