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Do You Need to Change Schools?

Do You Need to Change Schools?

Middle School and High School can be some of the most challenging years of your life. As you’re going through the developmental stages, each one brings with it different challenges and potential problems. Peers can be incredibly cruel, not to mention how inappropriate many teachers and staff members can be. If you’re not the smartest or the most popular, school can become intolerable.

Teenagers spend more waking hours at school than anywhere else, yet, for some, being there is incredibly painful. If you’re having trouble at school, whether it is due to being teased, bullied, lack of friends or academic struggles, you’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if the problem is social/emotional or academic; the pain and suffering is real. Perhaps you’ve considered changing schools, but you’re not really sure if that’s the answer.

Here are some signs that could signal you need to change schools:

  1. You frequently just refuse to go to school. This can look like pretending not to wake up, complaining of a stomachache or headache, or crying and just feeling too emotional to go. It is not uncommon to see physical ailments as a result of the stress you are experiencing.
  2. You’ve been acting differently from how you normally act. More tearful, moodier, change in appetite, change in sleep, not doing things you used to enjoy, or not hanging out with friends. Your friends and parents might have even noticed and seem to be nagging you a lot about why you’re acting so different.
  3. You are being teased or bullied. In person or online, both are unacceptable. If you are being teased or bullied, have you reported it to school staff? How have they responded?
  4. School staff fails to take measures to protect your well-being, even after you’ve reported bullying. You are literally feeling unsafe, and nobody is doing anything to help protect you. It can even get to the point where you are literally afraid to go to school.
  5. A teacher is singling you out and treating you unfairly or humiliating you. Sometimes a teacher might shame you for not knowing an answer or for getting a bad grade. Other times, they make it personal, such as calling you fat or making sexual comments to you. You’ve tried talking to the teacher and the principal, but nothing has changed.
  6. You are struggling academically, and the school is not properly helping you. All children learn differently, and not every school teaches the same way. Maybe you need to have projects and creative writing rather than just tests and essays.
  7. You are struggling socially, and despite a lot of effort, things aren’t getting any better. You can’t seem to make friends.
  8. You have a learning difference or other special needs, and the school is unable to accommodate your needs.

Changing schools is never something to take lightly. It should be reserved for only the most serious of circumstances. Before you even consider making a change, you need to try to figure out how to stay where you are. For example, if you are having trouble socially, learn some tools for how to better navigate making friends and improve your social skills. A therapist or a support group can help with that.

If you are being teased, learn how to stand up for yourself. If you are being bullied, do everything in your power to either make it stop or have the bully removed from the school and/or arrested. If you need something from your teachers, ask for it. Become your own advocate.

Lastly, if you have special needs, have your parents help you fight to have those needs met at your school.

When all else fails, you must trust your gut and do what you know is best for you. Ultimately, nobody knows what you need more than you do. You must fight for what is right, but also know how to move on when problems can’t be fixed. These are important life lessons that will serve you well both now and in the future.

For example, you will learn to give relationships their full effort and try to solve whatever problems arise. You will also know when a relationship cannot be fixed and when it is time to walk away and move on. You will know not to make these decisions lightly and without having put forth effort.

So, in a bizarre way, today’s struggles can make you better able to handle problems in the future. If changing schools is really what you and your parents decide you need, don’t be afraid to make it happen.

Lori Freson Lori Freson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Southern California. She has been working in the mental health field since 1997, and has been a licensed therapist since 2002. Lori currently works in her own thriving private practice in Encino and Sherman Oaks, where she serves the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles areas.
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