You don’t want to overreact. Putting too much pressure on children to perform can backfire. They can become anxious or angry and engage in even more self-defeating behavior.

Taking these steps can help:

• Talk with your child’s teachers. If they think your child is doing well, perhaps you need not be so worried.

• Talk with your child. Why does he think he’s not performing well? Is he involved in too many activities? Does he need help with study skills or perhaps some tutoring?

• Encourage your child to think about the future. What does she want to be doing in 15 years? If she doesn’t apply herself now in school, will she be able to do that?

• Help your child set daily goals for completing assignments and making better grades. Break large tasks into smaller segments.

• Be supportive. Underachievers often have low self-esteem. They need to know that their parents have confidence in them and love them no matter what their academic standing.

• Offer praise and rewards for meeting goals and making improvements.

• Get involved at school. When your child sees your interest, he might decide school is worth his interest as well.

If serious underachievement continues, consult your child’s teachers, a school counselor or private psychologist.

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