Going from “Idol to Idiot” in the eyes of their Middle Schooler!
It is this battlefield of questions that we leave our children to face their own fears, tackle their own obstacles and to become their own person; and all too often it is with our regret that we have not prepared them for this fight. The middle school transition can be smoother if the fifth grader has received enough preparation for this momentous time in life.
Fox 35 Interviews Adolescent Expert Jim West for Parenting Tips for First Time Middle Schoolers
Student fears: Going from hoping their parents will pick them up on time to hoping their parents will pick them up one block away from the school.
- Their friends seeing them with their parents.
- Physical education classes
- Multiple classrooms and teachers
- Getting to class on time
- Being different
- Homework schedule
Parents fears: Going from idol to idiot in the eyes of their Middle Schooler!
- They will start thinking your stupid
- They are growing up
- Effects of peer pressure
- Their body image suffers
- Loss of family time
Puberty Means they are Biological Adults:
- Parents need start making the Transition from Parenting a Child to Coaching an Adult?
- How Many Adults like to be Told what to do?
- Most adults prefer to be lead to the solution.
- Let them learn through your example- Be the person that you want your child to be; model good behavior, strong organizational skills and strong values.
- Validate their feelings- No matter how irrational their feelings, validate them to promote self-confidence.
- Empathize- Restate their conversations back to them so they know you truly are listening, ask them to do the same for you.
- Give them choices and consequences- Get their opinions on appropriate privileges and restrictions; find a compromise that you can both agree on.
- Be a mentor, not a restrictive parent - Be their friend, sometimes you might be the only one they think they can count on.
- Remain approachable - Approachable parents have greater insight on their children’s’ lives than restrictive parents.
- Bolster social skills- Encourage them to develop friendships, improve listening skills and increase their active participation in the community.
- Build trust- Personal space and privacy will build the crucial friendship between parent and child.
A parent’s role in the transition:
- Increase self confidence - Use small manageable tasks instead of the complete chore at one time.
- Assist with organization - Buy appropriate backpacks and materials that are small enough to keep consistent.
- Teach about failure - It is an important stepping stone in life and is essential to improving next time.
- Become knowledgeable - It is not just like what you went through in the old days; there are new pressures, new changes and new social consequences that you need to support your child through; learn what you can to help them through it.
- Be present - Attend school functions, introduce yourself to teachers, ask for advice from school personnel.
- Support - Independence is the key to a happy and progressive Middle School experience.
- Family time - Maintain consistent and strong family time including dinners, recreation and game time.
- Be alert - Signs of depression and anxiety can be easily overlooked.
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Orlando Teen Counselor Therapist – Jim West, MA, LMHC, NCC – Author, Communicator, Coach and Counselor