JoAnn Schauf – Guest Contributor
Aug 14 2016

You have the notebooks, the pencils and the brand new backpack, but do you have some new parenting tools ready to go as your tween heads back to school?

Here are three you can keep in your back pocket to help you have fewer conflicts at home once the school bell rings!

To ask, or not to ask, for a schedule change

Often times students are disappointed when they are not in class with their friends. You'll want to empathize with your child. As much as we school counselors (I was a school counselor for twenty years.) would like to satisfy the social desires of every student, it's not feasible. Please don't give your child hope for this change.

On the other hand, there are valid reasons to ask for a schedule change: being placed in the wrong band section, not getting the correct core class, or needing a PE class. In cases like these, you or your child should email the counselor ASAP. Starting school with a permanent schedule is ideal.

Alternatives to asking, "How was your day?"

To eliminate the dreaded "fine" and other one-word responses to this age old question, change the format of your questions. Avoid posing questions that begin with passive verbs such as havedid, and is. Invite dialogue by using open ended statements and questions that garner information and elaboration. Once you hear the answeryou can build on the conversation. You'll see the differences in the examples below.

"Have you talked to your coach?" becomes "I'm wondering what information the coach shared with you."

"Did your science teacher get back with you?" becomes "What kind of assignment did your science teacher give you?"

"Is your aide class okay?" becomes "What was the best/worst part of being an office aide today?"

Shifting the closed door perception

Most middle school students love being in their rooms behind shut doors. Kira is no different. Her mom, Stacy, knows she needs a daily plan to chat with her seventh grader. They agree to visit at 5:30 every afternoon. Stacey goes to Kira's room, sits on her bed, and they chat. No screens allowed. It's turned into a treasured time. The door, that once represented a barrier, is a welcome sight from both points of view.

You're good to go!   JoAnn             

Coppell resident JoAnn Schauf created Your Tween And You after spending 20 years as a middle, high school and college guidance counselor. She's a master storyteller who helps parents re-connect with their tweens. She used humor to survive the tween years with her own four kids, who are now well adjusted adults! JoAnn offers private parent coaching, workshops, and a bi-monthly newsletter. You can reach her at