You're a Middle School Parent, Now What?

Middle School…the three years of a child’s life when everything seems a little out of whack.  First thing of importance here is: this is perfectly normal, your child is normal, and you will make it out alive. So, take a breath, hang with me for a few minutes and let’s talk Middle School.

Researchers at Arizona State University found that mothers of middle schoolers experience more stress and less wellbeing than parents of younger or older children. Below are a few ways to stay sane and not only enjoy your child during their middle school years, but help them thrive and succeed:

Dealing with Your Tween’s Growing Independence

 Your child stays locked away for hours at time doing who knows what in their bedroom, they can’t share the same air with a sibling without copious amounts of eye rolling, and all of a sudden they are more affectionate with the screen attached to their face than they are with you.  How do we navigate this new season?

 1.     Be the Boss: Yes, newfound independence is good, but guided independence is better.  Your child is growing physically and seems ready to take on the world, but cognitively, they just aren’t there, yet.  Let your child feel out the newness of Middle School, maybe adjust some rules to fit their new academic lifestyle, but let them know in a kind, loving, controlled way that you are there to keep them safe and help them be productive, and you’re still the boss. Deep down inside, they will appreciate the feeling of not having to be the one in charge.

2.     Leave room for learning organization. Holy moly if there is ever a time where you have felt thrown to the wolves – it’s middle school. You go from 1 teacher, with one teaching style, to 7….one desk with all of your things in the same place to having to switch materials every hour at your locker…and having a significantly more intense homework and test load.  If I could tell you anything, it would be: be patient.  Then, be patient some more.  It will take some time for your child to learn the way they organize best. Help them discover different ways to organize their lockers, their binders, and their planner.  One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to organization.  Give your child opportunities and time to find their organization style.

3.    Encourage extracurricular activities. Your child is coming home with loads of homework. Regardless of where you land on the homework is good/homework is pointless spectrum, it’s a part of our current culture and probably will be for a while.  The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that students who participated in extracurricular activities had much better rankings in reading and math assessments, higher overall Grade Point Averages and were found to have fewer absences. Middle School is a prime time to help our children learn how to balance work and play.  Signing them up for the soccer team, or Chess club might end up making them more academically productive in the end.

 4.     Love their faces off. We often talk about love languages in regards to our spouses.  Have you ever considered what your child’s love language is? Are you having a hard time communicating with them? Are they constantly argumentative? Do they refuse to do their homework?  While consequences are natural and necessary at appropriate times, try to be preventative by finding out what makes your child tick. Your child might respond better if they have a little more quality time with you, or if you leave an encouraging note on their pillow at night, or if you praise them in front of other people.  It’s amazing what an effective tool genuine, purposeful encouragement can be.

 Middle School is a daunting, yet opportunistic time for your family. Communicate, communicate, communicate and love, love, love your kid.  Keep in mind that they have their own styles and they are just now learning how to identify and sharpen them – be their biggest cheerleader while they are at it. You’re a great parent and you have a great kid.  Use the (totally normal) stressors of this season to find opportunities to show your child how capable you both are of working with a world of new things. 

 Do you feel like you already know most of this but have hard time implementing it? Or maybe this is completely new way of thinking for you. If you’d like someone to help you navigate the best ways to help your kiddo, I’d love to work with you, or your child, for a free 30 minutes session.  If you feel after that like coaching will be helpful for you and your family we can partner to make that happen!