10 Parenting Tips to Get Your Child Through Middle School
Presented by BetterHelp.
Early adolescence is a time filled with change and growth. It’s tough on the adolescents themselves, and it can also be quite a challenge for their parents. If you have a child in middle school, these ten tips will help you guide them through it. Of course, every child is different, and only you know what is best for your adolescent. Simply take the tips that resonate with you and leave behind the rest. For more information on parenting, click here.
1. Make giving and getting respect a priority
Middle school is often the time when sweet children become, well, a little less sweet. But it’s vital to instil respectfulness in your children, both by respecting them and showing them that they need to respect you and others. Respect is something that will serve children well throughout the rest of their lives, so it’s a great idea to impart it early on.
2. Speak openly about friendship
Remind your child that being popular isn’t the most important thing; long-term happiness comes from having healthy friendships, regardless of whether this friend group is considered “the popular group” or not. Speak to them about the harm that can come from gossip and how important it is to stick up for their friends and themselves. In addition, take notice of the activities that your child enjoys and look for ways for them to participate in these activities with others. This is a great way to form friendships.
3. Provide a conducive learning environment
Middle school is much different from elementary school; your child will have to get used to having multiple teachers and switching classrooms for different subjects throughout the day. Set up a quiet workspace where they can get their homework done, encourage reading for fun, and offer opportunities for your child to hone skills in the areas they most enjoy. To ensure their brain is ready to learn, make time for nine or more hours of sleep per night and have plenty of nourishing breakfast options available.
4. Find a balance with technology
In today’s world, it’s impossible to escape technology altogether, but do your best to make sure that your child doesn’t get too much screen time. A few ideas are to keep the TV, computers, and gaming equipment in common areas rather than in your child’s bedroom, to collect your child’s cell phone at night so they can sleep without distraction, and to monitor internet usage and social media. It can also be nice to completely unplug from technology as a family for a few hours or even a full weekend.
5. Help your child develop organizational skills
Organizational and study skills must be learned and practised, and these skills will continue to be valuable throughout your child’s life. Middle school is a great time to start learning how to manage these skills since this is often the first time kids will have multiple teachers, extracurriculars, and more to handle. Show your child how to use a planner or calendar, and work out methods of organizing various class materials by subject. Introduce the idea of a daily to-do list and show your child how gratifying it feels to be able to check everything off.
6. Get involved whenever possible
While being a “helicopter parent” often has negative consequences, showing your child you care about their education by getting involved comes with positive impacts. There are different levels of involvement that you can engage in based on the way your child feels about having you around at school; some kids like having their parents close by, while others tend to feel embarrassed. A few ways to get involved are attending athletic events and school plays, going to school board meetings, working at fundraising events, and chaperoning field trips.
7. Let them gain independence
Children of this age begin to rely more on their friends and turn away from their parents; this is a normal part of growing up. Some parents tend to view this as a personal rejection or even oppositional behaviour, but this just isn’t the case. While you should still be a considerable part of your child’s life, it’s essential for them to be able to gain some independence. Avoid attempting to force information out of a resistant adolescent; this can have the opposite effect and push your child away.
8. Spend quality time together
Schedule time to spend with your child on a weekly basis. This should be time dedicated to doing an activity together without distractions when you can offer them your undivided attention. Quality time can be spent doing any activity your adolescent enjoys, and you might find that they open up to you more willingly when you’re both engaged in a fun hobby.
9. Don’t ask too many questions
With younger kids, direct questions will often get you answers. But with adolescents, the direct approach can feel intrusive and overwhelming. Instead, position yourself as someone who is always there to listen. Let them know that you’re always there for them and that they have permission to share what they’re thinking and feeling. Avoid the tendency to step in and attempt to solve all their problems; empathy is the best route.
10. Talk about tough topics
Most kids go through puberty in middle school, and it’s important to talk to your child about the changes they will experience. In addition, middle school is usually the first time kids are exposed to topics like drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and having sex. Avoiding these topics will only ensure that your child gets the incorrect information about them because they’ll simply learn from their peers rather than a reliable source. While conversations about tough topics can be awkward, it’s better to discuss them than to leave your adolescent alone to figure things out.
A Final Word
Parenting a middle schooler is tough, but you will get through it together! We hope the tips shared in this article were helpful and gave you some ideas about how best to work with your adolescent as they navigate this new stage of life.