6 unexpected signs that your child is frustrated at school

By Kate Kelly

Expert reviewed by Molly Algermissen, PhD

Getting frustrated is one of the first signs that your child may be struggling in school. Sometimes it’s clear that things aren’t going well — your child may lose their temper or walk away from a difficult task. But frustration over school can show up in ways that aren’t always obvious.

Here are six signs of frustration you might not expect. You may see these signs at home or hear about them from your child’s teacher. Kids who are frustrated may:

  1. Just sit quietly during classwork or homework, not engaged and not trying.
  2. Avoid taking risks or trying new things, thinking they’ll probably fail.
  3. Say they have no control over whether they succeed at something.
  4. Clown around to distract people from things they don’t do as well as other kids.
  5. Say it doesn’t matter how hard they work because they won’t do well.
  6. Put it on other people: “Nobody explained the directions.”

Ongoing frustration can make kids lose their motivation to keep trying. Spotting the signs is the first step to finding out what’s causing your child's struggles at school — and what might help.

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