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5 Kinds of School Stress Your Tween Is Feeling

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The school stress tweens feel might surprise you. As a teacher, I recently saw proof of this on a wall in the faculty break room that was covered with Post-It notes on which students had written what they were worried about. Some of them were so sad!

And their stress isn’t caused by the same things that caused them stress when they were little, like the separation anxiety they felt in kindergarten. No, the stress our kids feel as tweens has to do with hormonal changes, academics, and self-consciousness. Here’s what those Post-Its said—and the 5 kinds of school stress your tween is feeling.

1. Will my friends still like me?

A lot of kids wrote this one down. Middle school friendships are very tenuous—friends move away, shared interests disappear, or friends gravitate toward a different group. Look for ways to find out if your child’s friendships have changed. Our After School Conversation Starters can help. In fact, one of the questions is Who did you sit by at lunch today? This is a great question, as I’ve seen too many middle schoolers eating alone.

2. How will I handle all the homework?

Tweens feel tons of school stress about homework—not just over getting it done, but also over keeping track of it until they turn it in, and what kind of grades they’ll get. Here’s a tip: If your child is feeling overwhelmed with homework, talk to his or her teacher. Explain that your child is trying but having a tough time managing the homework workload.

3. What if I get a bad grade?

Middle school is the perfect time to let your child endure the consequences of forgotten assignments, unfinished projects, and subpar test scores. If your child gets a bad grade, be kind and stay calm. Look over these other tips for how to react to bad grades. Many of my students say their parents put a lot of pressure on them to get good grades. It’s important to motivate our kids, but making them feel defeated when they fall short adds to their school stress.

It’s important to motivate our kids, but making them feel defeated when they fall short adds to their school stress. Click To Tweet

4. Do I look OK? compliments for kids

Tweens are very self-conscious. Even the students who appear confident worry about getting  it “right.” Tweens also worry about physical differences: height, body type, hair, braces, acne, body odor. Our kids need encouragement. If you don’t want to focus on being pretty or handsome, zero in on good traits: Your smile lights up the room. Your eyes are such a gorgeous brown. You move so gracefully. I can tell that you’re getting stronger every day. I love the way you put your outfits together. Print iMOM’s 99 Compliments for Kids and use it as often as you can.

5. Will I get bullied?

Bullying is more than just getting pushed around physically. It’s classmates making fun of your name when the teacher calls roll. It’s kids snickering at the way you’re dressed or how you answer a question in front of the class. A lot of children won’t tell their parents they’re being bullied, so bring up the topic regularly: Are kids at your school nice to each other? What about mean stuff? Do you see that too? Once they answer those questions, you can ask about their experiences specifically.

What stresses out your kids?

ASK YOUR CHILD...

What do kids stress out about in school?

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