Emotional Wellbeing

Mental Health




Mandy Kloppers

My teenager hates school

Teenager post #35709 “School isn’t even about learning. It’s about how much stress you can handle before you have mental breakdown” – Teenagerposts.com

It is hard to start the day off with a teenager that is grumpy and does not want to go to school. I am sure that I am not alone in this experience. My 21-year-old son really disliked school. The poor boy used to get a therapy session every morning on the way to school. My son would begin the ‘session’ by saying something like, “I hate school”. Then he would add, “Yes, I know… If I think it’s going to be bad then it probably will be”… followed by a loud sigh.

I hated the fact that my son was unhappy at school. I do believe that the modern education system has many failings. One of these is that school teaches us that we have to accept that a large part of our lives will be spent doing things we don’t want to do. Of course, accepting that there are times when we have to do things we dislike is just part of life. The other aspect is that school conditions us to accept the impending “9 to 5” drudgery. We are taught to fit in and as a teenager, it is mortifying to stand out in any way. Bullying at school is on the rise and this is due to the increased stress we all face in life. Parents work longer hours for less money, finances are tight, there is often workplace bullying, bills to pay and keeping up with the information overload thanks to the huge progress made in modern technology.

Many parents don’t even realise that they are projecting their own stress onto their children. Their children then take this negative energy (frustration, anger) and project it onto a few unfortunate victims at school. Many of us handle stress badly and in unproductive ways (such as projecting our unhealthy emotions onto others in an attempt to make ourselves feel happier)which just maintains the “dog eat dog” attitude.

In my view, the spirit of education has been lost. These days it seems more about reaching targets than about getting the best out of our students. parents often don’t help the situation by expecting their children to live up to impossible standards, standards that teenagers do not necessarily agree with. Parents that force their children to partake in every activity under the sun, when the children are unininterested, are inadvertently conditioning their children to accept that they have little control over their lives. They are also teaching their children the lesson that “life is full of unpleasantries and you just have to get on with it”. When parents allow their children to make more of their own decisions rather than trying to force a reality that children do not empathise with (such as playing football or rugby every weekend, as this is what popular children do), the end result will be an adult that knows who they are and what they want.

Accountability is one of the most important lessons that we can teach our children. For many teenagers, school feels like a noose around their necks. When they are then involved in many after-school activities, they can end up resentful and angry. If they can at least understand that an education is a good springboard from which to cross over into being an adult with opportunities, they can then successfully negotiate the politics inherent in the education system. Politics such as incompetent teachers who limit children with their ignorant behaviour and comments, and/or the “us and them” mentality that exists in all schools between students. Many teenagers will end up wiser and stronger because of it if they can persevere and keep the bigger picture in mind.

Mandy X