Do you remember middle school? I do. I wouldn’t want to go back, to be honest. Drama, voice changes, switching classes, identity, hormones, awkwardness. It’s enough to make the kids cry and give parents the hee bee jeebies.
Middle school is a different place than it was in the 90’s. (Uh-oh am I showing my age?) Now kids have so many things vying for their attention all while they are trying to excel academically. How can parents combat the awkward years? Check out this list for what to expect:
I’ve been a middle school counselor now for 5 years and I’m still amazed at the physical transformation of my students between 6th and 8th grade. As 6th graders, many of them are tiny. It isn’t difficult to notice who the youngest ones are. Then suddenly they hit growth spurts, grow peach fuzz and their voices change. This is an exciting a scary time for parents. The transition from baby to older adolescent seems to happen overnight.
Middle school students want to fit in. They are not in the business of standing out. Parents are often shocked to find out that friendship issues are not just a plight that strikes girls. Nice kids turn mean just to impress the crowd. Boys pick on each other for having shoes that aren’t the most expensive. You can help by teaching your child what to look for in a friend and how to be one. Peer pressure often makes kids act out of character just to fit in. Talk to your kids about being true to themselves and doing what’s right.
Noticing the opposite sex
I tease some of my middle school kids about changing boyfriends and girlfriends like underwear. While they are trying to find themselves, they are also curious about the opposite sex.
If you haven’t had “the” talk, then do it ASAP! If you don’t talk to kids about the opposite sex or sex in general, they’ll be talking about it anyway. Don’t you want them to get the correct information from you?
I promise, this too shall pass. Uncontrollable tears at the drop of a hat. A scowl from your son when you ask him how his day was. Try not to take this personal. Hormones do crazy things to kids. At times they don’t even realize what’s happening. Keep the lines of communication open. Remind them that you love them even when they act totally unreasonable. Reign in the moodiness, but give them a pass now and then.
Organization can make or break your t(w)een
In middle school, teachers give a lot of tough love. This can be tricky as many kids are still accustomed to their elementary teachers reminding them what to do around the clock. I can’t tell you how many times I hear my colleagues complain about their students not having the supplies they need. When you ask the kids, they have no idea why they don’t have them either.
How can you help as a parent? Teach your child how to be organized. Help them clean out their book bag on a weekly basis. Make sure their book bags are always stocked with the necessary supplies. Walmart is making your job easier than ever with a special 5-for-1 box top deal featuring a variety of your favorite products! Box Tops for Education makes it easy to give back to your child’s school on your everyday purchases. Simply look for the Box Tops label when you shop General Mills products at Walmart. The school will receive $.10 for every box top you clip and send! In addition to the $0.10 per Box Tops, you earn 4 more.
Social media safety
If you don’t find anything else in this post helpful, please pay close attention here. I’m always amazed on how naive parents are concerning the social media apps their kids are using. I heard someone say, you wouldn’t give your kid a car to drive without teaching them how to drive it, so why would you give them a device that can access the world without teaching them how to use it responsibly?
The most common issue I see with social media is kids using apps is sexting. Boys ask for pictures. Girls send pictures. I’ve seen this with students as young as 11. Mind blowing right? Parent make the mistake of giving their kids access to devices that can access the internet and Wi-Fi with little to no supervision, and no cut off time at night. Parents, do yourself a favor and make your child turn in their device to you when you go to sleep at night. Have passwords to all their accounts and check their accounts on a regular basis. Establish some ground rules early and explain your expectations.
Do you have a middle school kid? Do you work with middle school kids? What were you surprised to learn about this age group? Did something in this post help you? Give it a share!