Kids seem to always be in transition. They go from being infants to toddlers to preschoolers to school age to teenagers and to young adults with a blink of an eye. Some transitions are easier than others. The most challenging transition is moving from elementary to middle school.
Going to middle school creates many first-time anxieties, apprehensions and fears for children. They are concerned about changing classes, getting to class on time, having multiple teachers, keeping up with homework, opening their locker, getting on the right bus to get home, making new friends and being around older and bigger students.
The transition to middle school is accompanied by other changes with kids. They will start pushing for independence, be more concerned about peer acceptance, experience rapid physical growth, face challenges in planning ahead and staying organized, have hormonal changes causing an increased interest in the opposite gender and mood swings, take more risks without thinking about the consequences and desire their parent’s guidance, love, and support one minute and the next wish they would disappear.
Going from elementary to middle school is just as difficult of a transition for parents. They don’t always appreciate the changes they see with their child. There is a tendency to want to give up or step away from parenting. They forget that what their child is going through is normal and necessary. Parents play a critical role in successfully guiding their child from elementary to middle school. It is a time when parenting most needs to be “knocked up a notch”.
Here are a few tips you can offer to help them do it:
- Encourage their child to be involved in school activities. It’s a great way to meet friends with similar interests.
- Make sure their child has supervised afterschool hours. These are the hours kids are most likely to become involved in risky behaviors.
- Get and stay involved as a parent. Encourage them to get to know their child’s teachers and attend school functions like open houses and parent-teacher nights. Volunteer for activities at schools.
- Continue regular family routines and activities. This gives their child a sense of stability at a time that may be very overwhelming to them.
- Help their child stay organized. Designate a study space and set a consistent study time. Buy them folders or binders to organize homework. Teach them to use a planner to remember important dates and deadlines.
- Set clear boundaries, limits and rules for their child’s behavior and communicate them clearly with their child.
- Keep the lines of communication open between them and their child. Do more listening than talking.
With a new school year beginning many parents will be making the transition to middle school with their child. It will be a time of many changes, but also an exciting, fun and rewarding time for both. Remind them to always be the parent before being their child’s friend. That’s what their kids most want and need from them. Don’t let their kids convince them otherwise. I know it’s easier said than done. But who ever said parenting was easy.