What To Do When Your Teen Skips School

For the most part, the problems you will have with your teens will be the run-of-the-mill teen attitude variety. Most teens are good kids who make good choices. Even the so-called "bad" teens are actually just good teens who make bad choices...and that's the best way to approach your teen when he or she skips school. Instead of accusing your teen of being a bad person, recognize that nearly every teen wants that extra day off at least once and that it is normally for no other reason than to see if they can do it without getting caught.

I am not saying that you should not take it seriously when your teen skips school. In fact, I believe that parents need to get tough on teens who skip. I firmly believe that teens should know their parents expectations and that open communication is the key to successful parenting. The more your teens know about how you feel about them not skipping class, the more likely they will be to avoid that particular bad choice.

When your teen doesn't want to go to school, it might be an indication that he or she is overburdened and looking for a break. It's ok to teach your teen about life balance issues. Often the demands placed on teens are incredible, between academic requirements, searching for the right college, sports games and practices, and still trying to manage a social life. You can set an example of good life balance by sending a clear message that it is ok to take a break now and then.

There should be consequences for the teen who skips school. Often, the school will count the teen as truant and all of the teachers will be required to give failing grades for the day's assignments. However, if there is no follow-up from home, that may not be enough to deter further episodes of class skipping. Talk with your teen. Find out the reasons behind why your teen skips school. Is there a bully involved? Has something changed in your teen's life that is causing distress? Did he or she recently gain or lose a friend or boyfriend that may be impacting life at school?

Make it clear to your teen that going to school is his or her obligation, just like going to work is yours. Place value on your teen's education, but recognize if your teen truly needs a break and work to help him or her learn to better balance the demands. If your teen skips school habitually, enlist the assistance of the school counselor. Your teen student can be placed on a variety of academic performance reports in which the teachers have to sign off on his or her daily attendance.

If your teen skips school, make sure he or she understands that it is a choice, but that it is a choice that carries consequences. Teens who skip are not responsible enough, perhaps, to have a cell phone or a car; teens who skip are not demonstrating the maturity required to go on the school trip or have a part-time job. The message you send about what the impact of your teen's choices are will help him or her make better choices about skipping.