Find out your parenting style with my parent personality quiz!

Find out your parenting style with my parent personality quiz!


Ask Dr. Meg: My middle schooler doesn’t like school. What should I do?

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dear Parent of a Preteen,

I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you’re having with your son. I know things feel incredibly difficult right now. I also know you are doing a great job as his parent. So don’t get discouraged!

My first instinct is something is going on at school that’s causing him to not like it and to act out and isolate at home. Maybe he’s being bullied, or he feels like his teachers don’t like him, but something there is the culprit.

I know he’s a good student, but he could have a learning issue such as dyslexia, a problem with math, or something else that’s making school feel uncomfortable.

Regardless of the underlying issue, it sounds like once he has one or two bad feelings, those feelings snowball, and the longer those feelings go unresolved the more he will dislike school.

Whether it’s a social issue—such as bullying—or a learning issue, once you get to the bottom of the problem, you will be able to better address his behavior. Here are a few suggestions to help you uncover what that underlying issue might be:

1. Get him tested for any type of learning disability.

A psychologist can conduct an extensive battery of tests that includes testing for ADHD and anxiety disorders.

2. Find out if other boys are being mean to him.

Ask if someone is saying something to him at school that bothers him. Be careful with your tone as you ask this. Don’t reveal that you feel sorry for him or are pitying him. If he knows you feel sorry for him, he may not tell you the truth because he doesn’t want to upset you. Ask him in a direct, matter-of-fact manner.  

3. Don’t let him bail.

Don’t resort to homeschool right away. Get to the bottom of the issue first. If things are still unresolved or the school is the culprit, he may need a different school. But don’t let your first resort be to pull him out.

School can be an overwhelming environment for kids and pre-teens. The social environment is confusing, the schoolwork is challenging, and the days can feel very long. I’m sure your son will be able to adjust once you can work out what’s going on. Hang in there, for your and your son’s sake.


Dr. Meg

Parents, if you found this answer helpful, be sure to join my online parenting community, Parenting Great Kids. I answer questions there regularly from parents of kids of all ages and stages. You can post a question on our chat page or check out any of my existing Ask Dr. Meg videos that are available in the community. Click here to join today! 


Skylight Digital Picture Frames are the perfect bridge connecting you to the special moments of those you love! It’s private, pre-loadable, and you can personalize it! Visit


Here’s the perfect gift to inspire and delight that young person in your life! The CrunchLabs build box subscription. Crunchlabs packs the fun into science by sending kids a new toy to build each month. And everyone’s favorite youtuber Mark Rober’s teaches them how! Kids LOVE IT! Go to and get yours today!


Masimo Stork is a revolutionary new baby monitor. SET technology has been in use for 25 years in the NICU units of America’s hospitals – now that same technology is available at home. Masimo Stork tracks real time, with your baby’s pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and skin temperature. While not a medical device, it can ensure more confident and calmer parenting. To learn more, go to

Website-Dr. Meeker (8)
Feeling a a bit uneasy about having "the talk" with your son or daughter?
Dr. Meeker is here to help! “How to Talk to Your Kids about Puberty & Sex (ages 8-18)” is her most comprehensive course ever and she’ll equip you to have that conversation with knowledge, confidence and sensitivity. Check it out!

More Tools to Simplify Fatherhood