Respect is about more than being polite or behaving in a certain way. It’s also about tolerance. Tolerant preteens respect people’s differences—they don’t judge them. There are many ways to encourage this. For example:

• Walk the talk. When you respect others’ differences, you are a role model for your child. Do not make ethnic jokes or racial comments. Expect the best from yourself—and your preteen.

• Stand up for what’s right. If someone makes a disrespectful remark about another person, don’t laugh or ignore it. Show disapproval. Your preteen will remember what to do (or don’t do).

• Address stereotypes. Talk about prejudice with your preteen,. Are certain groups picked on at school? Has your child been singled out for any reason? Discuss this problem—and how tolerance makes a difference.

• Learn about cultures. Visit museums. Make a diverse group of friends. Try new ways of doing things, such as cooking or decorating. Read books about different countries.

• Share your history. For example, tell your preteen about immigrant ancestors. Imagine what it was like to arrive in a new country. How could people show respect? Tolerance? Why is this so important?

Source: American School Counselor Association, “How to Open Your Preteen’s Mind,”, Reprinted with permission from Copyright©, The Parent Institute,


Yes, parent-teacher conferences are often brief. But they’re extremely important, too. To get the most from a meeting with your preteen’s teacher:

• Write down questions. Is there something in particular you need to discuss with your preteen’s teacher? Jot it down ahead of time.

• Be prompt. Arriving late may delay conferences after yours.

• Stay focused. Don’t waste time chatting about things that have nothing to do with school

• Be open-minded. Really listen to what your preteen’s teacher has to say. Her insight matters.

• Control yourself. Keep your emotions in check when talking to the teacher. Remember: The two of you are partners in your preteen’s education.

• Take notes. Don’t assume you’ll remember everything.

Source: Peggy Gisele, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S., “Ten Tips for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference,” Family Education Network, Reprinted with permission from Copyright©2008, The Parent Institute