As a pediatrician, I have heard many parents who are concerned about their child’s school performance. The truth is there are multiple factors that play a role in how the child performs in school.
Are their problems new?
If so, consider that there may be new demands or expectations at school that they did not have earlier.
Are they avoiding school?
They may be dealing with difficulty understanding the material or may be dealing with something more serious, like a learning disability. Neuropsychological testing can help delineate specific learning problems or problems with attention, memory or processing speed. Is there a family history of school problems and psychiatric disorders?
Do they have trouble with sleep, energy, appetite?
If they do experience such symptoms, and it is not only occurring at school, you may consider an underlying psychiatric problem, such as anxiety or depression, and the child may need to see a psychiatrist. It is not uncommon for children that are experiencing anxiety or depression to develop symptoms like stomach pain or headaches. Pediatric psychiatric illnesses are not as uncommon as you may think and can be easily treated.
Are they stressed?
Bullying or fear at home due to abuse, whether sexual or physical, the loss of a job, or a big move may prevent them from finishing homework.
Are they sleeping?
What time do they go to bed at night? Are they distracted by video games or by their phones?
How can we help?
- Set reasonable expectations
- Utilizing psychiatry resources
- Be aware of your child’s self-esteem
- Avoid electronics one hour before bedtime
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