My 15-year-old son is failing 9th grade and does not consider school a priority.

I have reached the end of my rope with my 15-year-old son, he tries to stay home from school every single day by complaining that he is sick, which is not the case. Although he does suffer from some kind of anxiety disorder for which he is being treated. He is in the 9th grade and is failing almost every subject, he does fine on the tests but fails to do all his daily assignments. Those that he does do he fails to hand in for fear that they may be wrong. I am done yelling and screaming, punishing him, taking things away and giving him incentives to do better, none of which has worked. I just don’t understand, he’s not a dumb kid. When talking to him he says that school is not his main priority right now but his friends are. I have no idea where to go from here, hoping for some advice to deal with this child.

It is good that he is being treated for his anxiety disorder. Part of the treatment must be for him to face his fears.  He should not be avoiding school.

You cannot make him go to school. You can only make it easier for him to do the right thing. Talk to the doctor who is treating him for anxiety. Tell the doctor your concerns and ask for advice.

Anxiety may be the cause. He may also have a learning problem. In either case, the school should be involved. Make an appointment with his teacher and discuss strategy with him or her along with the school guidance counsellor or principal.

My mother was not a psychologist but did raise ten kids. Her rule was simple:  If you were too sick to go to school, you needed to rest, in bed, with no TV, no visitors for the entire day.  These days she would also say, no telephone, no computer, no Nintendo or other games. So even if he feels better at 3 p.m. the rule sticks for the rest of the day.

You are right to be worried. Missing school a lot is an emergency situation for a child and deserves the immediate attention of his doctor and his school as well as yourself.

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