Help Your Tween Deal With a Bad School Day

A bad school day is unpleasant but your tween can get past it

Try to distract your tween from the bad school day she's experienced.

Crissy Pauley/

Everybody experiences a bad day every now and then, adults and children alike. As a parent, it can be especially hard when you find out your child had a terrible day at school, and if your child is in middle school you can count on difficult days ahead. The middle school years are times of social pressure and rejection, as well as other challenges your tween may not have yet experienced. But you can help your tween prevent or deal with a bad school day. The tips below should help you reach out to your tween and make a bad day better. 

Preventing a Bad Day at School

Get Organized: The first step to preventing a bad school day is to prepare for the day ahead of time. Be sure your child knows that before he or she goes to bed, homework needs to be finished, clothes should be ready to wear, lunch made and his or her book bag and shoes waiting at the front door. Also, be sure your tween has a working alarm clock, and make sure it's set so that there is enough time in the morning to eat and get ready. Your tween will also be more likely to catch the bus on time, and missing the school bus is an easy way to get the school day off on the wrong foot.

By being prepared and ready to go when he or she wakes up, you'll minimize problems that could lead to a bad day.

Encourage Strong Friendships: Middle school students face a lot of social issues while at school, including bullying and social ostracism. Be sure your child takes the time to develop strong friendships, which can help should your child run into trouble on the bus or at school. Friendships also help your child deal with teacher issues, homework problems, and other troubling concerns.

Be Prepared for Tests: Forgetting that you had a test is probably the easiest way to ruin your school day. Help your child update a weekly calendar so that he/she (and you) know when tests will take place, and when projects are due. Of course, your tween won't know if a pop quiz is on the calendar, but by keeping up with his/her homework and by staying on top of his/her studies, your tween will be in a good position for those surprise quizzes.

Dealing With a Bad Day

No matter how much preparation you do ahead of time, at some point your child will come home from school with a tale of woe. But you can do a lot to take your child's thoughts off his/her school troubles. For example, you should:

  • Listen to your child if he/she wants to talk.
  • Find a fun way to distract your tween from problems. You could go for a bike ride or watch a little television together.
  • Help your tween troubleshoot problems. If he or she is having problems with a subject, offer to tutor him or her, or to find a tutor. If he or she is having issues with a friend, role play possible solutions that might help.
  • Leave your tween alone. Some tweens need a little privacy or downtime if they'd had a bad day. Give your child some space if that's what he or she needs.
  • Contact the school. If you think your child's problem might be serious, contacting his or her teacher, or guidance counselor might be a good idea, especially if you think bullying, violence, drugs or other serious issues might be the problem.
  • Consider your tween's life outside of school. It's important for tweens to have a life outside of school. Be sure your child has activities that he or she can turn to after school. Extracurricular activities give children the chance to broaden their social circle and develop interests that have nothing to do with school. They are also a great distraction when your child needs to forget about his school day.

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.