How To Help Middle Schoolers: Student and Parent Perspective
Middle school; it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This spin-off of the first sentence of A Tale of Two Cities makes a freakishly close representation of these three years. However, middle school is when you grow from a “kid” to a “teenager” bringing along some stressful moments, but also some great memories. One of the things that we don’t usually think about, I believe, is how much our parents go through to keep us going. Typically working a job, or taking care of another kid too, but mostly just a whole lot of responsibility, our parents sacrifice a lot for us. So the least we can do is share our opinions and perspectives respectfully, right?
Homework and home time is arguably the craziest part of my day. Okay, maybe not craziest, but definitely most stressful. I come home, want/eat a snack, and sit down on my phone to lose track of time, but when my parents want me to get up I start to get frustrated. The biggest thing that I want for them is to just be able to read my mind.
Unfortunately, that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon. *disappointed face*
This proves that there’s something we need to figure out between our (what we think is) insane lives now and their (what they think is) insane life is.
One of the biggest things about my want for them to read my mind is so that I don’t have to repeat my homework over and over and over. It makes me angry and stressed and I show that to them, which makes them angry and stressed when they didn’t do anything in the first place (for those of you disagreeing, just think about it for a second). We all know that middle school ladies and gents can get a little, ummmmmmm, crazy (sure, I haven’t used that word about a hundred times now have I?). This one is, thankfully, an easy fix. Talk to your parents about getting a whiteboard, or a place to write down the agenda every day when you get home.
Plus, that word, talk. As we said before, our parents can’t read our minds, but parents out there, we can’t read yours either! TALK to parents about your day and goals, and parents, TALK to us about yours. We want something like a trade, and this one will make both of our lives better.
Hmmm…. what I wish my parents understood I need from them to support me through middle school:
- Listen to all of what I have to say. If you stop me I might not want to continue because I might get myself “in trouble”.
- Help me no matter how easy it is for you. It might be easy for you, but not to me.
- Don’t OVERREACT. If I am going through a bad time of anxiety then it’s not going to get any better with you overreacting.
- Do not assume things because you haven’t heard my whole side of the story.
- Try not to increase an anxiety attack (even if you don’t know I an having one). If you start to see me breathe heavily it will give you a hint on what to do….CALM DOWN.
- Finally, know that even though you have gone through middle school you don’t go through everything we go through.
This might sound a bit simplistic, but my goal for middle school for me and my girls is to survive. I normally set goals that are typically too high to attain, but for once I might have aimed well. Middle school is tough. Even with the perfect parents and the perfect kids, the possibility of curve balls flying in from all angles is almost certain, and we are far from perfect.
Here are a few things I try to do on a regular basis to help my girls survive middle school:
- I listen, as often as possible.
- I ask questions.
- I am truly interested in learning and knowing their thought processes.
- I remind them that no matter how wacky things are, this is normal.
- I try to figure out when I should push them to achieve, dig in, and try hard versus when I should stand back and let them make their choices, learn the hard way, and win their way.
- I take every opportunity to laugh with them.
- I pray, a lot.
I’m certainly no expert, but I try hard and fail and win – sometimes all within 10 minutes!
How can I support my daughter better in middle school? I guess I need to listen to her answers and perspective above (^^^^^Jasmin). What I can share is my strategy to support my middle school daughter.
Some days I feel like I am on the right path. Other days I am convinced my daughter is from Mars and I have to learn a whole new language. In all sincerity, my number one goal is to always be and provide a safe place and support system for my daughter. I want her to know and trust that her father and I are her biggest fans and that we believe in her. A strategy for this goal is to always use straight talk. We don’t always agree, in fact, we disagree A LOT, but having the conversation is critical. It is the only way I am able to learn from her.
My second goal is to set good examples. I grew up with the implied, “Do as I say, not as I do.” I vowed to strive and always be the example. The best way to encourage a behavior is to live by example and set a standard.
A third goal I have is to let my daughter grow as an independent young adult who is willing and able to make bold decisions in her pursuit of happiness. One strategy is to encourage her to immerse herself in the exploration of areas she enjoys. This is a struggle, but I know it will pay off later. Secondly, I have to learn how to not be so protective. I want my daughter to know that both her father and I are her champions, but at the same time let her fight her own fights. This has been much more difficult than I am making it sound.
Other strategies: Love hard. Pay attention. Say I’m sorry. Forgive quickly. Choose your battles. Set boundaries and loosen the grip.
I love the analogy, “Teach her to float so she won’t drown and she can enjoy swimming without fear.”