Underachievement typically stems from emotional or psychological turbulence, not laziness.

Statistics regarding waning academic performance are troubling: Jo Ann Natale of The Education Digest determined that approximately 40 to 60 percent of students are underachievers. If your child isn’t living up to his or her potential, however, you can use this gentle guidance to get them back on track:

Have Your Child Screened For A Learning Disability

No amount of tutoring or positive reinforcement will help your child if he or she has an underlying learning disability. It is imperative that children in this instance are screened as soon as possible. Many students with ADHD and Inattentive ADHD aren’t properly diagnosed until high school, college or adulthood. That’s a long time to go without help.

Don’t Compare

One of the best ways to reinforce underachievement is comparisons that make children feel inadequate: “Why can’t you get good grades like your sister?” Comparisons to siblings, friends, neighbors — even yourself — can scald. If your child’s battling depression and insecurity, they’ll only intensify.

Schedule Parent-teacher Meetings

If you’ve noticed a problem, your child’s teacher probably has too. A parent-teacher meeting, including your child, would help. Meeting with a teacher will also alert him or her to whether your child cuts class or forgets an assignment, so that you can be notified. If your child hasn’t progressed after a month, revisit the teacher.

Build Your Child’s Confidence

Praise every victory your child has, small or large. Always use positive reinforcement — “I know you’ll do well on the test” — rather than negative reinforcement — “Don’t fail the test.” If they are particularly hard on themselves after having failed the test, reassure them that they are smart and will do better next time. Give sincere praise, not platitudes.

Your child may be wired differently than others, but that doesn’t mean they cannot live up to their full potential. Use these tips to help your underachieving student get back on the road to achievement. And the best thing you can do? Always remind them that they are loved, regardless of their school performance.