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During the middle school open house, I was nervous as I stood in line waiting to speak to my son’s teachers. Each teacher had very similar things to say about my son, he was letting just little things slip in all of his classes.

Last year, I would’ve flipped out and probably cried on my way home while I battled this feeling that my son would probably grow up and be like Wayne living in my basement and hosting his own YouTube show.

Living in my basement till he's 30? As if!

Living in my basement till he’s 30? As if!

This year however, I had notes that I could take back to my son and share with him. I left feeling hopeful as his grades were much better than last year. I shared with other parents in our Facebook group what his grades were last year for some perspective.

My son ended his sixth grade year with mostly C’s, D’s, and one F. (I share this with his permission)

Now some parents may read that and think that I didn’t do enough to bust his chops. Before you judge the situation, I have to share that we tried so many things with him.

We took his iTouch away, TV time, and all fun stuff. When that didn’t work, we tried positive reinforcement. That didn’t work.

As a tutor and loving parent, I desperately wanted him to be successful.

I knew he was smart and that was half the battle. He didn’t see the point in these mundane assignments. He could not turn his work in and still ace the test.  My son was experiencing totally developmentally appropriate struggle.

That’s when I learned…in other words–he’s normal.

You Don’t Have to Worry About Grades

As you’ll discover in our podcast episode today, Kara Scanlon and I talk about this typical struggle in middle school. The teenage brain is under major construction which is why it is so difficult for them to remember to do #allthethings.

On top of that, teens today are looking for meaning in their work and if the assignment doesn’t seem to have a point–it will be like pushing Pooh Bear through a hole.

Grab a seat. It's gonna be awhile.

Grab a seat. It’s gonna be awhile.

The TL;DL (Too Long, Didn’t Listen)

Kara and I go into depth of what you are looking for when your teen bumps up against struggle in school work.  Pin this post and come back, as this podcast episode is proving to be popular with good reason.

These middle school years will be a struggle for both you and your teen. Your struggle will be to hold back and watch as your child takes control of his decisions.

Your teen’s struggle will be to bump up against hard things and be willing to go with a plan B. Essentially, your teen is learning what it means to have hope, persevere, and have tenacity.

Brene Brown says it best, “Hope is a function of struggle. When we don’t expose our children to struggle, we don’t allow them to know failure, disappointment [and] we tear at their hopefulness…What children really want is feedback.”

When to worry about grades. https://madeformath.com/worry-grades

We learned this year that we don’t need to spend so much time worrying about our son’s grades. Instead we opt to give him constructive feedback. We regularly look at his grades together and point out opportunities for improvement. We try to use his strengths to help him overcome his weakness.

Giving Feedback is NOT Easy.

My son will be the first to tell you that sometimes he feels attacked, but he is learning his teenage brain is not reading emotions correctly (thank you for that Michelle Icard). I remind him often when we are not talking about grades,  the feedback we give is meant out of love, not criticism.

If you are reading this and thinking your teen seems to be crumbling or bristles at any sort of feedback, it’s time to bring in a neutral party. An academic wound may be present.

Related: What is Academic Wounding and How to Heal

A tutor like Kara, myself, or any of our preferred tutors can help your child gain the feedback, confidence, and positive learning experiences he needs to be successful.

Additional Reading on This Topic

(These are affiliate links)

The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting by Brene Brown
The Blessing of a B – by Wendy Mogel
Middle School Makeover by Michelle Icard

Grab my free checklist for evaluating whether its time to get a tutor or not for your child here:

While giving feedback is tough, having your child live in your basement and hosting a cable TV show is worse. Party On Parents!  (This is where you say…party on Adrianne)

Adrianne Meldrum

Adrianne Meldrum

Owner of Math for Middles

I’m the owner and creator of the math videos here at Math for Middles.  I’ve tutored students for over ten years.  When I am not creating here, you’ll find me down by the river with my family.  You can read more about me here and how I once was a middle schooler too.