Homeschooling     Hot Topics     Home and Family     K-12     Education Guide    

Help for the underachiever



Insight into the underachiever dilemma

Insight into the underachiever dilemma


Prior to the 1950s, there is no record of the word “underachiever.” Most parents would agree the concept has grown and broadened in the ensuing decades, particularly recently. Thankfully, terms like “emotional intelligence” and “soft skills” (i.e. innate “people skills” that can’t be taught, but are extremely useful) have entered the lexicon, conveying some value on “intelligence” that can’t be measured academically or through an IQ test. These have joined “street smarts,” “horse sense,” and “common sense.”

If you feel your child falls into “underachiever” status, Armin at MrDad.com offers a guide that can help clarify if your child is, indeed, in that category, and if so, possible remedies to get them operating at their highest potential.

But first things first: Armin offers a list of problems that can be attributed to a child’s performance that have nothing directly to do with the child or their ability. They are:

  • There’s not enough of a challenge
  • There’s too much or too little competition
  • He’s having conflict with one or more of his teachers
  • He has an unidentified/undiagnosed learning disability
  • There’s a mismatch between his preferred learning style and what’s possible given the limits of online education in the COVID-19 era
  • He’s feeling a lot of pressure from his peers
  • He doesn’t have enough opportunities to be creative
  • There’s too much—or too little—structure in the classroom
READ MORE: Child Behavior: Is your child an underachiever?

Also, underachievement may also be caused by factors within the home, such as:

  • Conflict between parents
  • High levels of stress in the home (which are almost guaranteed these days)
  • Overtly protective parents
  • Parents’ unrealistically high expectations or demand for perfection
  • Low expectations from the parents (this is clearly not the case for you, but in families where the parents don’t care, the children have no motivation to work hard and achieve)
  • Health problems
  • Sibling rivalry

What to do? Mr. Dad offers a few suggestions:

  • Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher about the problem.
  • Communicate regularly with your child. In a non-judgmental way, ask your child how things are going and whether he thinks he’s doing his best work. If he agrees that he isn’t, ask what he thinks he’d need to improve his grades.
  • Listen carefully. If your child needs a little help with organization, help. If he needs more (or fewer) reminders about homework and projects, adjust accordingly. If he needs a tutor, get one. If he needs incentives and rewards, think of ways to provide them (but stay away from bribery)
  • Join a parent support group for gifted children and encourage your child to participate in activities that involve other gifted children.
  • Arrange for an evaluation by a school- or private psychologist who specializes in helping underachieving children.
  • Continue to encourage your child’s interests, regardless of the level of school success.
  • Adjust your expectations if necessary. Even gifted children have limits.
  • Never, ever give up on your child.

That last one is the most important. Never give up on your child!



More Homeschooling


  • Indoor spots for teens to play

    Older kids need to have some play time too

    Teens need places to go that aren't lame and won't bore them to tears. We have the best in the Valley listed just for you. read more »
  • Everything you need to know about student loans

    Traditional ways of paying for college aren't working

    More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings i falling. read more »
  • 3 ways people of all ages can make the most of International Youth Day

    Celebrate youth activists and combat ageism

    August 12 is International Youth Day, a United Nations effort to celebrate youth activists, combat ageism and help bridge gaps between generations working toward the same change. read more »
  • Everything you should to know about student loans

    Traditional ways of paying for college aren't working

    More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings i falling. read more »
  • 4 ways to get involved this global volunteer month

    It's a good time to get in on the action

    Global Volunteer Month, celebrated throughout April, is a time to recognize people who actively support their communities through volunteerism and active civic engagement. It’s also a time to get in on the action. However, if you’re like many people, you may not know where to begin. read more »
  • Minimize the risk of child identity theft

    NYS Division of Consumer Protection offers advice

    Child Identity Theft is a growing problem. According to recent data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), identity theft for those under 19 years old grew 60% in three years. read more »
  • 5 reasons why your child should (and can) learn how to play chess

    A revolutionary new game that helps kids learn this game of strategy

    Chess is one of the oldest and most popular games in history, with early forms of the game dating back to the 6th century CE. The game has certainly seen a revival since the pandemic began, as people around the globe have dusted off their chess boards and even binged one of the most-watched series ever inspired by the masterful game for much-needed entertainment. read more »
  • Visit cool sculpture parks in the Hudson Valley

    These sculptures are generally huge and sure to please

    Visit fun and educational sculpture gardens in the Hudson Valley. Sculpture Parks and their gardens are a unique way for families to appreciate and enjoy art. The open spaces are wonderful for kids of all ages. Most locations offer space to roam and enable us to enjoy these unique pieces at our own pace. read more »
  • 5 ways to get kids excited about STEM learning

    The country needs more good scientists

    The events of the past couple of years have shown how important scientists are to making the world a better and safer place. read more »
  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 fun, easy ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »