Parenting a teenage boy comes with lots of challenges, from dealing with a less-than-sunny disposition to worrying about dangers like alcohol and inexperienced driving. Poor school performance is another common concern for parents. Boys get two-thirds of all Ds and Fs and are about 30 percent more likely to drop out of high school, PBS Parents reports online in "Why Do So Many Boys Not Care About School?" Sometimes, reasoning with a teenage boy and motivating him to work harder seems impossible. But don't give up; there are effective strategies to motivate your teen boy to do better in school.
Talk to your teen boy's teachers to get their perspective on whether he's genuinely struggling or just unmotivated. Ask about his strengths and weaknesses in particular areas to find out where he can do better—from turning in homework to test performance and class participation. Also, inquire about how his teachers address the different learning styles and needs of different students. Knowing this can help guide your efforts to improve your teen's school performance.
Have a respectful conversation with your teen boy about his school performance. Don't accuse, belittle, preach or take a negative tone. Ask questions and listen to his answers. Explain your perspective and provide him with a fair opportunity to explain his. Don't focus entirely on where he needs to do better; rather, point out what he does well.
Offer support in areas where your teenager is struggling. Help him with his homework or special projects, hire a tutor or encourage him to work with a study partner. Ask teachers if they can provide additional help after school.
Check up on your teenage boy's organizational skills. Go through binders and notebooks together to see where he writes down his homework assignments, then offer suggestions for ways to improve organization, if necessary.
Establish a homework time every weekday during which your teen boy must do his schoolwork. If he says he doesn't have homework, encourage him to use that time to study for subjects he's struggling in. Give him a break right after school, though, and make sure he takes time to enjoy his own interests between homework time and bedtime.
Since positive reinforcement is more powerful than punishment and other forms of negative reinforcement, establish realistic goals and create incentives for achieving those goals. If your teenage boy is earning mostly Fs or Ds, it's unrealistic to expect him to pull all of his grades up to As right away. He'll know this is impossible and won't bother trying. You might start by offering small rewards for his increased efforts, such as demonstrating that he has completed all homework assignments or make-up work. Later, you can focus on rewarding his improved grades.