You've made it through the first few weeks of the "dreaded" middle school years – congratulations! Yes, these years can be full of awkwardness, drama, raging hormones, increased academics and responsibilities, and ever-changing social structures and dynamics. But, they also can be a time of growth, maturation, special friendships, new experiences, and a greater level of parent-child bonding. This will be an exciting and challenging time of life for both you and your child. Below are some tips to help the both of you navigate the complex world known as MIDDLE SCHOOL.
Confidence, Confidence, Confidence
Your child is going through a period of rapid growth - mentally, physically, and socially. Their confidence levels will fluctuate from all-time highs to all-time lows. One of the best ways to boost confidence is to try new things! Encourage your child to take on a new sport, activity or club. Allow them the freedom to navigate towards activities that they are interested in, not necessarily what you feel they should do.
Nothing can make a child feel more self-conscious than a changing body that they don't understand or are not equipped to deal with. Make sure you have open conversations on how to handle bodily changes, practice good health and hygiene, and cope with hormone-fueled emotions.
Listen, Watch, and Monitor
Create and sustain dialogue with your child. This may mean you have to listen for the 47th time about how unfair a teacher may be, or how another child continuously doesn't pass them the ball at soccer practice. If a child starts to feel like they are not being heard it will lead to them shutting down and no longer sharing with you. Remember, what may seem trivial to you, can be very significant for your child.
Monitor, monitor, monitor their social media interactions. Every child is different as to what and how much social media they can handle. Create rules and boundaries and always know their passwords.
Finally, don't disengage even though your child might push you away!
Help Them Stay Organized
As academic, extracurricular, and social demands increase, organization is key for both you and your child. Ensure your child has all the required supplies they need. Make sure you have a copy of their schedule and a list of their teachers. Staying on top of homework is also important. When a child is disorganized, they often feel out of control which can affect them both academically and socially.
Seek Out Fellow Middle School Parents
Middle school brings out fear, anxiety and frustration for many parents. It is important to establish a group of your own to look to for advice and support. Call on other middle school parents to help you regain perspective, find the humor in a given situation, and remind you that you are an amazing parent!
Remember, sometimes the most difficult things in life are the most rewarding. These middle school years, even with their challenges, can be amazing. You got this!
Interested in learning more about the middle school years? Check out this post by Head of School Kirk Wheeler: