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Is Your Middle Schooler Overwhelmed? Here’s How to Help

“What’s apparent in all this focus on grades is that there’s no real emphasis on learning—the true purpose of education.” - Gerald Knesek, Harvard Business School Publishing

Middle schoolers are in a time of transition, physically, socially, and psychologically. In the midst of all of this turmoil, there’s also increased pressure to do well in school. This pressure cooker creates students who are simply overwhelmed. As their parent, you can help your middle schooler refocus on what matters by helping them prioritize their schedule. 

Create a Short-Term and Long-Term Schedule

Sit with your student while they write down everything on their to do list, including the due dates. Organize the list putting the most urgent tasks first. Based on this list, create a schedule for the week ahead. Include time for breaks, extracurriculars, and a little time to do something fun on the weekends. 

Next, look at the deadlines for the month ahead. What can your child work on now to make their life easier later on? Breakdown long-term assignments into smaller, more manageable pieces. For example, if your child has to read a book by the end of the month, discuss how it’s more manageable to read one chapter each night than to try and read the entire book the week before it’s due. 

The final schedule should be a healthy mix of urgent tasks that must be done soon and tasks to prepare for later deadlines.

Check In Throughout the Week

Middle school is a lonely time. In one study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 10.3% of seventh graders responded that they did not feel close to their peers. Your middle schooler needs to know that you’re there for them when they feel overwhelmed. 

This could mean helping them with homework or simply being someone they can talk to. Knowing that you’re there to support them can help them stay calm and reduce their overall level of stress. 

Applaud their Efforts

Nothing overwhelms a student faster than when they’re trying their best and still facing pressure from their parents to do more. Encourage your child to focus more on all that they’ve learned from a project, not on the grades they earned. 

Model the way yourself by centering your commentary on whether or not your child is giving it their best shot, not on the result. For example, if your child comes home with a B+ on a test, consider saying something like, “I’m so proud of how hard you worked.” If your child is studying, following their schedule, and asking their teacher for extra help, that is all something to be celebrated, regardless of whether they get an A or a B.

According to this research article, “Relentless pressure to succeed, often measured by grades or a GPA, can contribute to students being sleep-deprived, anxious, and even engaging in self-harm.” 

To better support students and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed, parents can switch focus from subjective grades to praising the effort we see our students put forward. 

Confidence Leads to Resilience

Confident students are resilient students. At LeadYouth, we teach our learners how to be confident, emotionally intelligent leaders who can handle the day-to-day stress of being a middle school student. Sign your child up for a LeadYouth membership today. 


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