How to Encourage Your Teen to Finish High School

prevent teen dropout encourage finish high school
Encourage your teen to finish high school and not dropout. Matthias Tunger / Getty Images

Receiving a high school diploma guarantees your teen of one important thing--the lack of stigma attached to being a high school dropout. Whether your teen plans to enter into the military, or she wants to get a job right away, graduating from high school will open doors to a brighter future.

Society has deemed it necessary to place a minimum education level on its population. Here in the United States, it’s the high school diploma or its equivalent.

Employers, training schools and the military require it.

While some teens feel that they will be okay without a diploma, it is your job as a responsible parent to tell your teen why he needs to finish high school. Here are five steps you should take if your teen is thinking about dropping out:

1. Find Out What Your Teen is Thinking

Ask open-ended questions to see if you can find out why she wants to drop out. Have her list, in order of priority, her problems with finishing school. 

Sometimes, teens struggle to solve a relatively minor problem. As a result, they dig themselves deeper into a hole and they can't find their way out. But if you write down each problem, you can work together to develop a plan.

Sometimes, a desire to quit school is really a symptom of another problem. Bullying, learning disabilities, or mental health problems may be the root cause of your teen's desire to drop out.

Until those issues are addressed, your teen won't want to finish school. 

2. Problem-Solve Together 

Don't rush to offer solutions to each problem or obstacle your teen faces. Instead, be willing to listen. Validate your teen's feelings, even if you don't necessarily agree.

Then, brainstorm ideas together.

See if you can identify at least five different solutions to each problem. Whether your teen says she can't wake up on time for school or she just can't pass her classes, there are always multiple ways to address each issue.

3. Seek Outside Help

If your teen dislikes school so much that he doesn't want to finish, it's likely he could benefit from some outside help. That may mean speaking to a mental health counselor to address issues like depression, anxiety, or stress.

Or, outside help may involve talking to a guidance counselor. There may be programs that could help your teen graduate. Whether it's an online school or an alternative education program, high schools usually offer a variety of options for teens who are struggling. 

Schedule appointments and attend them with your teen. Show that you're making it a priority to ensure that he finishes high school and that you're willing to support his efforts in overcoming the barriers to getting an education. 

4. Keep on Top of the Issue

Even if you solve a problem or your teen's attitude shifts, don't relax too much.

There will likely be more obstacles in the way at one time or another so it's important to watch for problems.

Check in with your teen frequently about how school is going. Be prepared to problem-solve again when issues arise. 

5. Talk About the Future

Teens need reassurance that their high school problems are temporary. Talk about the future often to keep your teen motivated to finish school.

Whether your teen wants to open up his own business or he hopes to go to college, get him excited about the future. Remind him how finishing high school will help him with his goals--no matter what he hopes to achieve. 

Sometimes, teens hear success stories about people who didn't finish high school. Make sure you explain to your teen that although there are rare exceptions, most high school dropouts end up living in poverty. Provide your teen with the facts and discuss the importance of having a good education.

Edited by Amy Morin.

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