Helping Teens Handle Discouragement

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Helping Teens Handle Discouragement. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

Helping Teens Handle Discouragement

Helping Teens Handle Discouragement

Let’s face it, as humans, we all experience moments of discouragement. Our teens are no exception. Let’s explore some practical ways in helping teens handle discouragement as they navigate through these uncertain, kind of “weird”, challenging times.

Join Vicki for encouragement on helping teens to handle discouragement in healthy ways.

Tackling Difficult Academics

One common source of discouragement for teens is struggling with challenging academics. Whether it’s precalculus, algebra, or geometry, it’s easy for them to feel stuck and believe they’re not good enough. Even us adults, we would feel a little defeated in the face of those math monsters. 

And when they’re feeling down, motivation goes out the window, making it a real struggle to get anything done. We’ve all been there, right? 

As homeschooling parents, it’s essential to provide support during these moments. A few ways to show your support are:

  • Start by making eye contact and allowing them to express their frustrations. 
  • Let them vent and get those negative thoughts out of their system. 
  • Instead of correcting them, help them find their positives. 
  • Remind them of a time when they actually enjoyed something academic.
  • Let them know they can take a break from this tough stuff and recalibrate the next day. 

Help them remember that there is some light at the end of the academic tunnel, even if it means going back in time a little. Sometimes a day or two off is just what the doctor ordered. Our friend CJ over at Homeschooling Through High School swears by it. 

So, take a breather, go on a drive, or plan a fun field trip instead of banging their heads against those textbooks. Helping teens handle discouragement and failure is no easy task, but with a little creativity and ingenuity, it can be done. 

Take a break and recalibrate.

Finding Support

Sometimes teens are dealing with subjects that are just way out of our league as parents. You know which ones I’m talking about…science labs, super tough math, or anything that makes us scratch our heads in confusion. 

In those cases, it’s time to think outside the box. When you have to “teach what you don’t know” and you both are at risk of discouragement:

Thinking outside the box and finding alternative ways to tackle tough subjects can boost your teen’s confidence and motivation. The point is to find creative solutions to tackle those discouraging subjects head-on.

Adjusting Curriculum

Not every teen needs to follow the same academic path. If your teen is heading towards a trade school, the military, or pursuing a literature major in college, it may be worth reevaluating their curriculum. Here are 50 ways to “scrap your schoolbook” 🙂

Financial Literacy from a Christian Perspective
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Dropping unnecessary subjects, like precalculus, can alleviate unnecessary stress and provide opportunities to explore more relevant topics. Then choose some curriculum that might be a better fit. Financial literacy, for example, could be a valuable alternative. 

Remember, just because something is available to do doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for everyone. Scale back and let your teen focus on what truly matters for their future path.

Navigating Life’s Unexpected Twists

Sometimes discouragement for teens isn’t just about academics. Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs, and our teens can feel down when things don’t go as planned. They might think, By now, I should be doing this and that, or I really wanted to do this, but it’s not happening

It’s all part of the rollercoaster ride called Life. When “life happens”, help your teens focus on the good in the present and have hope for the future. Remind them that even though things may not be going as planned right now, they have enough to get by. 

They have food, clothes, and a support system that believes in them. And guess what? The future holds amazing things for them. 

Be their role models, showing them that we’re living in the present with hope in the future, believing that good things are on the horizon. It’s all about navigating the present and the future with faith and hopefulness. We can’t lecture our teens into feeling better, but we can guide them through it.

Coping with Changing Friendships

Now, let’s talk about friendships. Discouragement for teens can happen when they and their friends seem to be heading in different directions. Even us moms go through those friendship changes. It can be downright discouraging. 

When your teen comes to you, pouring their heart out about how they don’t understand what’s going on, let them process it. Let them express their frustrations and just be there for them. 

Of course, if there are negative behaviors on their part, like bossing everyone around or throwing temper tantrums, it’s an opportunity to teach them some valuable life skills. In these particular moments, simply help them work on their self-control and how they interact with others. 

But sometimes, friendships just naturally evolve, and that’s okay. Assure your teen that they are amazing individuals, and there are plenty of friends waiting for them in the future. Together, you’ll get through this rough patch. 

Remember, it’s all about the present and the future. This might feel weird and discouraging right now, but they still have friends, acquaintances, and activities that bring them joy. And in the future, they’ll build an incredible network of awesome people. Here’s a post on making friends in college that can help with high schoolers, too.

Recognizing Signs of Depression

Here’s a little something to keep in mind: sometimes discouragement for teens can escalate into more serious issues like depression or anxiety. It’s crucial to be vigilant and recognize the signs. 

Lethargy, disinterest, excessive crying, or isolation may indicate a depressive episode. Bouncing back becomes a real challenge, especially when they’re bombarded with one discouraging moment after another. 

If you notice these symptoms persisting, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Reach out to your family doctor or find a counselor who specializes in working with teens. Remember, addressing mental health concerns is vital for their overall well-being.

We don’t want discouragement to take root and overshadow their lives. We want them to be healed, whole, and filled with hope. Feel confident in knowing there are resources out there to help them – and you – and it’s a beautiful thing to witness their journey towards freedom from those depressive episodes.

Creating Positive Experiences

When discouragement rears its ugly head, it’s time to create some positive events. When helping teens handle discouragement, as homeschooling parents, we can’t fix everything, but we can inject positivity into our teens’ lives. 

Take a break on the weekend and do something out of the ordinary with your teens. Plan spontaneous outings or activities that they won’t expect. Explore local state parks, museums, or nature trails. The change of scenery and the shared experiences can work wonders.

While they may initially resist, these experiences can lift their spirits and release healing and bonding hormones in their brains. When you engage in a new activity or go on a field trip, their brains release oxytocin, the healing and bonding hormone. Their brains get a little zap of positive vibes. 

Think outside the box, check out local newspapers or online resources for weekend activities, state parks, museums, nature trails, you name it. Just do something different. You might not be able to fix the world for your teens, and you can’t magically make those math lessons disappear, but you can inject a little positivity into their lives. And that is worth its weight in gold.

Helping Teens Handle Discouragement

Dealing with discouragement for teens is a challenge every homeschooling mom faces. By implementing these strategies, you can support your teens through difficult academic moments, navigate changing friendships, and help them find hope in uncertain times. 

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Join the 7Sisters Homeschool Facebook group to connect with a supportive community of homeschooling moms. Together, we can empower our teens and help them overcome discouragement.

Thank you to Richie Soares with Homeschool and Humor for writing this blog post and Seth Tillman for editing!


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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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