Problems in School

If school problems aren’t picked up and addressed early, they can be bad for children in the long term.

To start with, school problems might contribute to poor self-esteem. In the longer term, they can affect your child’s mental health.

School problems can also lead to an increased risk of dropping out. Children who have academic problems might be more likely to avoid school in the short term and to leave school early in the long term. These children might also be less likely to do further education or training in the future.

Another consequence of school problems is that children can get tagged with unhelpful labels like ‘uninterested’, ‘easily distracted’, ‘lazy’ or ‘doesn’t try hard enough’. Young people often start to believe these labels and think that they’re ‘troublemakers’ or ‘misfits’. All these labels suggest that children are to blame for school problems. But school problems are often a sign that children aren’t getting enough support.

Finally, when children fit in at school and feel like they belong, it’s good for their well-being. But children who have problems at school can experience a reduced sense of belonging and well-being.

Causes of school problems

Some of the more common causes of school problems are underlying learning difficulties or learning disabilities – like dyslexia – or behavioral or emotional issues. But there are many other reasons why a young person might not be achieving academically.

Personal factors might include:

  • chronic illness
  • mental health issues like depression or anxiety
  • experiences of trauma
  • difficulties with self-esteem, communication skills or social skills
  • difficulties with listening, concentrating or sitting still.

Problem Solving

The term problem solving is used in many, many, many disciplines, sometimes with different perspectives, visuals and often with different terminologies. Problems can also be classified into two different types (ill-defined and well-defined) from which appropriate solutions are to be made. Ill-defined problems are those that do not have clear goals, solution paths, or expected solution. Well-defined problems have specific goals, clearly defined solution paths, and clear expected solutions. These problems also allow for more initial planning than ill-defined problems. Being able to solve problems sometimes involves dealing with pragmatic (logic) and semantics (interpretation of the problem). The ability to understand what the goal of the problem is and what rules could be applied represent the key to solving the problem. Sometimes the problem requires some abstract thinking and coming up with a creative solution.

Children’s Reaction to Trauma

Children and teens can have extreme reactions to trauma, but their symptoms may not be the same as adults. In very young children (less than 6 years of age), these symptoms can include:

  • Wetting the bed after having learned to use the toilet
  • Forgetting how to or being unable to talk
  • Acting out the scary event during playtime
  • Being unusually clingy with a parent or other adult

Older children and teens are more likely to show symptoms similar to those seen in adults. They may also develop disruptive, disrespectful, or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.

Coping with Anger

Anger problems can make you feel isolated from others, dissatisfied with life, and completely misunderstood. When you have a difficult time dealing with your anger, it can be hard to accomplish what you want to do or develop the relationships you would like to have. Yet, the person who has anger issues doesn’t always recognize the source of their difficulty. They may think others are at fault for pushing their buttons or even feel that the universe is against them.

Yet, realizing that the problem lies in how you choose to deal with your anger can be very freeing. Knowing what is actually happening can help you feel more in tune with yourself. Understanding that you can take charge of your responses can help you deal with the uncomfortable emotions surrounding your anger. And, once you can honestly say the words “I have anger issues,” you can begin the work of overcoming them.

Other Illnesses/Bipolar Disorder

Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which can make it hard for a doctor to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people have bipolar disorder along with another illness such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.

Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example:

  • Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode may believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers.
  • Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime.

As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

Cultural Communication Issues

Even if two parties share the same language, differences in culture may hinder effective communication. One’s culture may often have an impact on the way one thinks and feels about the world, and two individuals who speak the same language but have different cultural backgrounds may come away from a conversation with entirely different views of the exchange. When an individual is not a native speaker of the language an exchange takes place in, misunderstandings or errors in translation may further impede good communication.

Culture can impact meaningful communication in three primary ways:

  • Cognitive constraints can be seen in communicating parties who do not share similar world views and have dissimilar frames of reference.
  • Behavioral constraints are differences in verbal and nonverbal actions. For example, while it is acceptable to look into the eyes of an authority figure while communicating in some cultures, individuals from other cultures may find this behavior to be unacceptable.
  • Emotional constraints describe differences in the expression of feelings and emotions. Those from a particular cultural background may display their feelings quite openly, while individuals from another culture may rigid control over their emotions.

When those involved in cross-cultural communications are not aware of these potential constraints and the effects they may have, misunderstandings can easily occur, and conflict may be the result.

Stages of Grief

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”

Anger: Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”

Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”

Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”

Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what happened.”

If you are experiencing any of these emotions following a loss, it may help to know that your reaction is natural and that you’ll heal in time. However, not everyone who grieves goes through all of these stages—and that’s okay. In fact, some people resolve their grief without going through any of these stages. And if you do go through these stages of grief, you probably won’t experience them in a neat, sequential order, so don’t worry about what you “should” be feeling or which stage you’re supposed to be in.

Social Anxiety

People with social anxiety disorder (sometimes called “social phobia”) have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others.

Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
  • Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Being very afraid that other people will judge them
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around

Depression in Teens

It’s not unusual for young people to experience “the blues” or feel “down in the dumps” occasionally. Adolescence is always an unsettling time, with the many physical, emotional, psychological and social changes that accompany this stage of life.

Unrealistic academic, social, or family expectations can create a strong sense of rejection and can lead to deep disappointment. When things go wrong at school or at home, teens often overreact. Many young people feel that life is not fair or that things “never go their way.” They feel “stressed out” and confused. To make matters worse, teens are bombarded by conflicting messages from parents, friends and society. Today’s teens see more of what life has to offer — both good and bad — on television, at school, in magazines and on the Internet.

Teens need adult guidance more than ever to understand all the emotional and physical changes they are experiencing. When teens’ moods disrupt their ability to function on a day-to-day basis, it may indicate a serious emotional or mental disorder that needs attention — adolescent depression. Parents or caregivers must take action.

Dealing With Adolescent Pressures

When teens feel down, there are ways they can cope with these feelings to avoid serious depression. All of these suggestions help develop a sense of acceptance and belonging that is so important to adolescents.

  • Try to make new friends. Healthy relationships with peers are central to teens’ self-esteem and provide an important social outlet.
  • Participate in sports, job, school activities or hobbies. Staying busy helps teens focus on positive activities rather than negative feelings or behaviors.
  • Join organizations that offer programs for young people. Special programs geared to the needs of adolescents help develop additional interests.
  • Ask a trusted adult for help. When problems are too much to handle alone, teens should not be afraid to ask for help.

But sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, teens become depressed. Many factors can contribute to depression. Studies show that some depressed people have too much or too little of certain brain chemicals. Also, a family history of depression may increase the risk for developing depression. Other factors that can contribute to depression are difficult life events (such as death or divorce), side-effects from some medications and negative thought patterns.

Recognizing Adolescent Depression

Adolescent depression is increasing at an alarming rate. Recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression. This is a serious problem that calls for prompt, appropriate treatment. Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formally called manic-depression), which is a condition that alternates between periods of euphoria and depression.

Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because adults may expect teens to act moody. Also, adolescents do not always understand or express their feelings very well. They may not be aware of the symptoms of depression and may not seek help.

These symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
  • Anger and rage
  • Overreaction to criticism
  • Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
  • Poor self-esteem or guilt
  • Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Problems with authority
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Teens may experiment with drugs or alcohol or become sexually promiscuous to avoid feelings of depression. Teens also may express their depression through hostile, aggressive, risk-taking behavior. But such behaviors only lead to new problems, deeper levels of depression and destroyed relationships with friends, family, law enforcement or school officials.

How Can I Trust Again

If you’ve been burned in the past, it’s understandable that you might have a hard time trusting other people. It can help to remind yourself that your new partner is NOT your old partner (or your friend, family member, or whoever broke your trust before), and making assumptions about them based on the actions of a completely different person isn’t really fair. Even if you’ve been hurt before, that’s not an excuse for checking up on your new partner or demanding that they prove their trustworthiness to you. As we’ve said, trust is a choice, and building on that trust within a relationship takes time. When we begin a relationship with someone, we’re making the choice to trust them. If you feel that you aren’t able to trust anyone else right now, you might not be ready to be in a relationship.

It’s worth noting that being able to trust yourself is an important component in trusting others. Being hurt by someone in the past may have affected your ability to trust yourself and your own instincts. Just remember that the person who broke your trust in the past made that choice; you can’t take responsibility for someone else’s actions or decisions. If you’re struggling with this, taking time to work through it, maybe with a counselor or therapist, could be very helpful in regaining trust in yourself and your ability to trust others.

Are you dealing with trust issues? Our therapist are here to help. Call, chat or text with an advocate today! We can be reached by phone at (813) 244-1251 or online at:

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