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Teen Struggles with Authority

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My 14-year-old son is in the seventh grade. He's repeated two years in grade school, comes from a divorced family, and struggles in school and with authority. He promises to do better each year, but it's getting worse. What should we do? Do you recommend any boot camps, counseling services, or military schools?

A: Having repeated two years, being 14 and in seventh grade must be terribly frustrating and shameful for your son. No wonder he struggles with authority. Boot camps and military schools would only make the situation worse and do nothing to address the core issue -- your son has a learning disability or academic gaps in his education.

I encourage you to make an appointment with his school counselor right away. Find out what the school sees or has learned about your son's achievement, study skills, and abilities. If he has not been tested, insist on his being tested now.

Work with his counselor and teachers on an educational plan. Your son may need a study-skills class or resource room, tutoring, special reading class, or an alternative program. Most of all, he needs support and patience. If the school has groups for children of divorce, ask that he be included.

For yourself and for him, enroll in a parenting skills class where you can get support and help at this most crucial time of his development.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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