UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FROM YOUR MIDDLE SCHOOLER

Middle school usually spans three years or fewer, but the growing your child will do in these years is huge.  Your child will grow physically.  But expect tremendous mental, emotional and social growth as well. Your preteen will probable display:
  • Some degree of self-absorption.  A key job for a child in middle school is to begin to answer the question: “Who am I?”  Your child will be thinking about his own identity and how he appears to others.  At times he may appear self-centered or even selfish.  Try not to let this hurt your feelings.  Give him some alone time, but do not allow him to isolate himself from the family.
  • Identification with a peer group.  In middle school, the peer group often sets the tone.  New behaviors you see in your child may be copied from peers.  Your child may not seem as affectionate as before.  But don’t be fooled into thinking this is a time to back away.  Your child needs you more than ever.  But he needs you as a support and a guide, not a micro-manager.
  • A strong desire for independence, countered by immature behavior if he doesn’t get his way or he’s anxious or upset.  This is the age when you can expect to hear:  “I’m not a child!  Stop treating me like one!”  Five minutes later, this person who thinks he deserves to be treated like an adult will be having a meltdown that reminds you of his toddler years.
Be mindful of your child’s need for more freedom.  But make sure he knows that you will link more freedom with more responsibility on his part.

Source:  “Developmental Characteristics of Middle Schoolers And Tips for Parents,” Music Department, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, www-camil.music.uiuc.edu/classes/343/where_who/characteristics_adolescents.pdf.  Reprinted with permission from Copyright© 2008 The Parent Institute

TALK WITH YOUR PRETEEN ABOUT MAKING IMPORTANT DECISIONS

Now that he’s a teenager, your eighth grader will be making more decisions on his own.  And those decisions can have big consequences.  Although you ultimately can’t make his choices for him, there are some important topics to discuss with your eighth grader now so that he’ll be able to make smart decisions later.  These include:

¨     Decisions about school.  How does your eighth grader feel about school?  Does he take his work seriously? Or does he slack off and do the bare minimum go get by?
  • Decisions about friends.  What kinds of kids does our child hang out with?  Are they good, decent people?  Does your preteen feel comfortable inviting friends over to his home?  Why of why not?
  • Decisions about you.  Does your eighth grader feel that he can always come to you with problems?  In his mind, are you an ally or an enemy?
  • Decisions about drinking and drugs.  Have you given him the facts about drugs, alcohol and smoking?  Does he understand what he risks by experimenting with these substances?
  • Decisions about his self-worth.  Does your eighth grader believe that he matters?  Does he know that you love him?  How much he values himself will have a huge impact on the decisions--big or small--he makes for years to come.
Source:  Sean Covey, “The 6 Most Important Decisions Your Teen Will Ever Make,” Education.com,www.education.com/magazine/article/Ed_6_Most_Important Reprinted with permission from Copyright© 2008 The Parent Institute