When children are little, it is easy to help them do better in school. You can hold their hand while they do homework, help them complete assignments, and are in almost constant communication with the teacher anyway. As they get older, though, parents have to become more hands-off and let their children do school with less supervision. No matter how well you prepared them to succeed and do homework well, there will likely come a time when their grades are not as high as either of you would like. How can you approach this with your teenager in a kind, constructive way?
Talk to them about themselves and their lives before diving into school-related talk
Before you get down to business, engage with your child and see how they are doing. Have they had trouble sleeping lately? Are there issues with a specific teacher? Are they experiencing social problems? There are many external causes that might be making it harder for your child to do their best in school, but you will never hear about them if you jump in with a lecture about their grades. Take the time to really see where your child is at before bringing up school concerns.
Separate your child from their grades
Even as you are expressing concern about certain grades, make sure your child knows that they, and their worth, are completely separate. You do not love them any less, they are not less worthy of your time and affection, they are still safe in your home. While this may seem obvious, many teens may struggle with finding their identity in their grades, so feeling like they have disappointed you in this area may make them feel like they are a disappointment to you overall. Take the time to assure your child that they are not worthless because of their grades, but that grades can be a measure of success that future schools, internships, and employers may use to get an idea of how hard they work.
Troubleshoot with your teen
Try to approach this issue as both of you against the problem, not you against each other. Take the time to evaluate things that might be causing the slip in grades. Are there health issues that may be contributing? Do they need more help in a certain subject? Do they need to let go of some commitments elsewhere to make more time for studying? Talk with them and evaluate together what some problems and their solutions may be, and make sure you are both on the same page.
Now, you are better prepared to handle this difficult conversation with your teen!