Why would a good student suddenly start doing poorly?

ilikechicken asks: Recently I’ve been turning in late homework and forgetting important things on tests. I don’t know what on earth is going on and my parents have already punished me a couple times. Please help!

Hi ilikechicken –


This is a really common problem.  In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever known a human who didn’t go through this at some point.  The sad part is that your parents are doing what they think is best (punishing you), but you already feel bad about it, so punishing isn’t going to do any good.

I don’t know your life, of course, but I’m going to make a guess.  I’m guessing that you’re going through a big transition right now.  Maybe it’s something you’re aware of (you’re becoming a teenager and your body’s changing shape), or maybe it’s something else (you’re starting to develop new awarenesses and ideas).  Or maybe it’s something  outside of you, such as that your family’s moving or splitting up.

Regardless, it is totally normal for a kid – of whatever age – to have some trouble in this transition, and for it to show up in their schoolwork.

Why?  I don’t know.  But there are a lot of things about myself I don’t quite know.  Like, why is it that, every night when I go to bed, I lie across the bed instead of up-and-down it, even though I know Handsome’s going to shove me over to that other position when he climbs in?!  Got me, but I still do it!

There are really only two solutions to what you’re going through.  The first is to organize yourself a little more.  Your brain is busy on other things, things that you didn’t put a lot of thought into when you were younger.  So you need more organizing than you did back then.  Maybe you’ve always written down your assignments when you got them in class.  Great.  Well, now you need to put a reminder on your assignment list every day about the longer-term assignments that will come due, so you don’t forget to put some work into them early.  And if you’ve always done well on tests by studying hard the night before, maybe now you need to study the night before that as well.  It’s nothing to feel bad about – it’s just a time you’re going through.  Things will get better over time, I promise.

But the second solution has nothing to do with your homework or tests.  And that solution is to deal with whatever else is going on in your life, as best you can.  If it’s mild (you’ve changed to a new school and are making friends, but it’s going slowly), then just keep going as you are, and it’ll be fine.  But if your difficulties are stronger – if you’re really having trouble dealing with something in your life – I recommend you find someone to talk to.  Therapists are just great, or someone at your school or place of worship that specializes in helping kids through times like this.  You’ve always got me, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face talking.

Then of course, if you just need someone to cuddle with who’ll tell you you’re the most wonderful thing in the world, of course I’ll recommend you find a good dog!  No one can make you feel as good about yourself as we do – and we do not lie!

Again, ilikechicken, you’re right to be paying attention to this issue, and trying to resolve it.  But it’s totally normal, and something you’ll definitely get through.


Good Luck!





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poproxy360 - March 30, 2014 Reply

Get yourself a planner. That way you can write what you need to do or remember, like 2:30-4:30 Study for English test. And bring your planner to school and home and check on it after school, when you wake up, and when you are about to sleep – so you can check what you have done or need to do.

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