Show Your Parents a Bad Grade

Receiving a bad grade happens to most people at some point in their education. A bad grade can already make you feel low, even without the added stress of telling your parents. Telling your parents is necessary, however, and you shouldn’t avoid it. Parents only want what is best for you. You can handle this situation by preparing yourself, explaining the grade, accepting the punishment, and improving your grades in the future.


Preparing Yourself

  1. Calm yourself down. Don’t get too worked up before showing your parents the grade. Anxiety and nervousness will cause you to overthink the situation. Remember, this will one day be unimportant and a distant memory. The sooner you explain what has happened, the sooner it'll be over, and you can start looking towards doing better.[1]
    • Take deep breaths and focus on pleasant thoughts.
    • Take your mind off of your grade for an hour by doing something that makes you happy, like reading a book or playing a game.
  2. Prepare yourself before telling them. Think of positive things you have accomplished. This way, you can share the good news as well as the bad news. If you can’t think of any new accomplishments, come up with a plan for improvement. Prepare a solid plan or physical proof of how you plan to do better in the future.[2]
    • Plan a meeting with your teacher, or talk to your teacher about the bad grade beforehand.
    • Prepare a study plan.
    • Don’t hide or throw away the grade. It may be tempting to hide, “forget” about, or throw away your grade. Do not do this. Chances are, the bad grade will come to light eventually. The bad grade may need to be signed, or it will reflect in a poor grade on a report card.[3]
    • It is always better to go the honest route. The punishment and reaction will be worse if you delay the news.
  3. Pick the right moment. Try to prepare the right environment for breaking bad news. Don’t wait to tell them in a crowded area, or during a fun family outing. A good time to tell them would be during or after dinner, when they are unlikely to be caught up in other responsibilities.[4]
    • Don’t talk to them as soon as they come home from work. Allow them some time to unwind before you start a serious conversation with them.
    • Schedule a time with your parents if you are not sure when to talk to them.
  4. Be respectful. Don’t approach the situation in a defensive or rude manner. Your parents will respond better to good manners and a thoughtful approach. Talk to your parents as you were taught to speak to your elders.[5]
    • Never resort to inappropriate name-calling or cursing.
    • Do not raise your voice. Keep your voice calm and steady.

Talking to Your Parents

  1. Ask your parents to talk. When the moment is right, ask your parents if they are available to talk. You should take advantage of a quiet and private area. Try sitting down instead of standing, as the conversation may take a while.[1]
    • Approach your parents confidently and seriously. Don’t act silly or upset. Your parents will be more likely to react positively if you display the right behavior.
  2. Don’t over-explain. Get straight to the point. Don’t build up the conversation by trying to pad the situation in your favour. For example, you can say something like "I got a bad grade," or "I'm very sorry, but I didn't do very well on a quiz/test/exam.”[1]
  3. Be honest. Don't make excuses. It might seem easier to be dishonest about your grade, or make excuses about it. Dishonesty and excuses will not benefit you because they do not change your grade. Your parents will appreciate and acknowledge the fact that you were straight and honest with them.[4]
    • There is a difference between excuses and legitimate reasons for a bad grade. Differentiate the two. An excuse is, “My teacher made the test too hard.” A reason is “I didn’t understand the material.”
  4. Tell them why you made a bad grade. Be direct with a simple statement at first, but your parents will probably want an explanation. Stay honest when you explain to them what happened. If you didn’t study, tell them. If you tried your best, but still failed, tell them.[4]
    • Something you could say is “I had a hard time understanding the material,” or “I didn’t study for the test, which led to me doing poorly on it.”[5]
    • Be honest with yourself about why you made a bad grade. Don’t convince that it wasn’t your fault if it was.
    • If accurate, tell them about how you know you should have studied more. That will show them that you've learned from your mistake.
  5. Explain how you plan to make a change. Lay out the plan you've made, and tell them how you plan to improve in the future. Show them comments from your teacher, your study plan, or tell them how you will avoid distractions.[2]
    • Tell your parents that you will make effort to do things like set up a meeting with your teacher, turn off your phone and television while studying, and study for at least an hour a night.
    • Physical proof or a well thought out plan will be more convincing than comments thought up during the conversation.
  6. Put the problem into perspective. You may typically be a good student. Remind your parents of this. This may keep them from overreacting if they remember what kind of grades you usually bring home. Do not, however, treat the bad grade lightly if it is an ongoing problem.[6]
    • Something you could say is “I may have done poorly on this test, but this is a rare occurrence for me. I will make an effort to do better next time.”
    • If bad grades are a recurring problem you could say, “I haven’t been doing well in school lately, but I am going to do my best to change that.”

Dealing with Your Parents’ Reaction

  1. Listen to what your parents say. Know that your parents want what is best for you. Parents want the best for you, and it makes them nervous when they think your future is being damaged. Your parents have most likely been through school, and they have probably dealt with bad grade themselves. Take their advice, and understand their frustration is mostly concern for you.[2]
    • Do not talk back if they are lecturing you. Being rude and disrespectful will show that you do not take the situation or your parents seriously.
    • Your parents might be angry or frustrated, and that is normal. Being mentally or physically abused is not normal. Talk to your teacher or proper authorities if you think you are being abused.
  2. Suggest a fair punishment. Before they give you a punishment, offer fair punishments. Tell them that you are willing to give up television for a certain amount of time, or that you won’t go the party you were invited to that weekend in favor of studying. Doing this will show your parents that you know the bad grade is a problem, and you are willing to fix the problem.[1]
  3. Accept the punishment. Your parents may or may not accept your suggestion for a punishment. They may decide on a different and more appropriate punishment. Either way, accept the punishment. Do not argue with them, or try to deny the punishment.[2]
    • Don’t act out against the punishment. Don’t sneak out if they ground you, or don’t watch television if you are banned from it.
  4. Give your parents the ability to stay updated. Many school systems have a way of viewing your grades online. If they don’t already have the login information, give it to them. Alternatively, if your school does not have an online system, make an Excel spreadsheet of your grades, and give it to them weekly.[4]
    • Keeping your parents updated will motivate you to do better, and show your parents that you care about your grades.

Improving Your Grades

  1. Ask your parents for help. Suggest that your parents sit down and help you with homework. If you are struggling to understand your work, ask your parents if it is possible to get a tutor. If you aren’t sure how to improve, ask your parents what they suggest.[2]
    • Keeping your parents involved will likely make them more understanding if you get a bad grade in the future.
  2. Explain any ongoing problems to your parents. Tell them about anything that is inhibiting your education. Don’t be afraid to tell them everything. Tell them about bullies, distractions, or trouble concentrating. Your parents are there to help you.[2]
    • Something you could say is, “There is an ongoing distraction at school (or home), that prevents me from concentrating on my studies.”
    • Tell your teacher if there is an ongoing distraction or bully in your class.
  3. Avoid bad habits in the future. There are many bad habits that lead to low grades. Avoiding these habits in the future will help you do better in your studies, therefore preventing stressful confrontations with your parents. Some of these bad habits are:[5]
    • Copying a classmate’s homework instead of doing your own work.
    • Not asking questions when you don’t understand the material.
    • Cheating on quizzes and exams.
    • Forgetting the due dates of essays, projects, quizzes, tests, etc. Keep a calendar for the due dates of your schoolwork.
    • Failing to take notes during class. Taking notes during class will help you avoid zoning out and not paying attention.


  • Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher for extra help.
  • Do not misbehave before telling your parents about a bad grade.
  • Stick to a study schedule. Set outside time every evening to review material, or study for a test.
  • Always do your homework. Your homework prepares you for test.


  • Do not hide, lose, or throw out the grade. The punishment may be worse when they find out.
  • Know the difference between healthy and harmful punishment. If you feel that you are being treated inappropriately, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

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