How to Prevent Your Teen From Dropping Out of School

How can I prevent my teen from dropping out of school? My teen wants to quit school.

Years ago, generations earlier, school was never an option. We were expected to finish high school without even a consideration of dropping out or quitting. We all had road bumps, rough spots, as teens do — however dropping out simply wasn’t an option. Kids that left school to get a GED were typically facing legal issues.


Today more and more young people are not only thinking about leaving high school, they are avoiding school (skipping classes in higher numbers than prior generations) and don’t seem to value the importance of education.

No parent wants to hear their teen wants to drop out of high school, but it is something that about 1 in every 10 people do. This is troubling for parents because statistically speaking, kids who do not graduate from high school are limited in their job potential and make less money than those who do graduate. This is disheartening for a parent, and can cause an emotional reaction that may not be best for either of you.

First it’s important to determine why your teen wants to leave school. 

5 Possible Reasons Teens Choose to Drop Out of School:

1. Mental health. Teens deal with depression and anxiety, and if not addressed, this can pile up into other major mental health issues that force them to drop out.

2. Boredom. Some teens are simply bored and lose interest in academics. In some situations, teens may want to quit their studies to pursue their passion for art or acting. The lure of fame and fortune become attractive as popular social media influencers greatly impact teenagers. Maybe rich kids don’t feel like they need to attend school.

3. Substance abuse. There are teenagers that leave school and studies due to drug addiction and substance abuse. Alcohol addiction is also another reason that explains why teenagers drop out of school.

4. Bullying (cyberbullying) and harassment is a growing concern.  Your teen might be a target (victim) of bullying at school or even online, leaving them with a sense of humiliation and embarrassment. Many young people are too ashamed to even tell their parents when they are being harassed at school. This can eventually lead to your teen begging to leave the school.

5. Problems at home can be sometimes cause your teen difficulties to focus on their studies or want to continue with school. They’re worried about their parents or siblings (maybe a pending divorce, family violence, or other troubles in the house) that is causing them to feel withdrawn.

Preventing Your Teen From Dropping Out of School

There are some things to consider if your teenager wants to drop out of high school–here are some tips so you both know where to start the discussion.

Communication is key, let’s start with finding out why they want to leave school.

1. In reviewing the list above, it is important to discuss the reasoning behind your teenager’s decision to quite high school. Are they being bullied (do they feel threatened), or do they find their courses overwhelming and feel like there is no point to going.

If they are struggling with their classes, you can suggest a tutor or possibly changing courses. Let your teen know you are on their side. If bullying is the issue, it’s likely they won’t want you to get involved. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t on some level — such as getting your child the emotional support they need as well as making sure the school is aware of this situation. Suggest to your teen that you are open to changing schools rather than dropping out.

2. Keep in mind your teen believes they are almost an adult and can make wise decisions for themselves. It’s important to have a respectful conversation with them — not to belittle them or react with anger and rage about this thought of dropping out of school. Talk to them calmly about the risk of dropping out as far as their future earnings and the doors that will close to them in the future.

Ask your teen what they want for their future, whether it’s a car, house or to take nice vacations. Talk with them about limits they will have with low paying jobs. Base the numbers factually; not scare tactics are necessary when showing your teenager how much he will have to dole out for monthly expenses.

If your teen argues he’s not college material, you can help them understand that trade schools also require high school diplomas. Trade schools should also be encouraged by all parents of teenagers that are interested in these jobs. Think about what you paid your electrician or HVAC professional the last time he came to your home?

3. Reach out to your teen’s school. Schedule a meeting with teachers and school administrators. Determine if any accommodations need to be made to foster your teen’s learning experience. While problems at home can be a part of the choice to drop out, more times than not there is a problem at school that is the driving cause of this choice.

4. Getting your teen help. If you realize your teen is struggling with signs of depression, withdrawn, addicted to their devices, becoming isolated from their friends – or other signs of mental health issues, it’s likely time to see a professional. Getting your teen help early can help prevent the thoughts of quitting school. Like with many adults, when struggling with sadness, you don’t want to get out of bed. If your teen is using drugs or drinking, it may be time to consider residential therapy.

5. The last resort is considering alternative school settings. The school environment could be contributing to your teen’s trouble. If other methods fail, you may have to look into enrolling your teen in a charter school, alternative school, magnet school, career academy, general educational development (GED) program or some other setting that is more conducive to their success. As we all know — education is key for their future.

Remember, your are your teen’s advocate.

Read: What is the Goal of Residential Treatment?

Read: Where can I send my troubled teenager?

Read: 5 Benefits of Therapeutic Boarding Schools.


If you’re struggling with your teen and you’ve exhausted your local resources, learn more about how residential treatment can benefit your family. Contact us for more information.

Image provided by Pexels.

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