A Middle School Survivor’s Guide
My daughter is in sixth grade, and I keep hearing about all the turbulence of middle school. What can I do to make it a better experience for my child?
Q: My daughter is in sixth grade, and I keep hearing about all the turbulence of middle school. My friends tell me how hard it was for them and their children. What can I do to make it a better experience for my child?
A: Moving from elementary school to middle school carries the uncertainty of new friends, bullying, social media and different ways of doing things. Middle school also comes at that time when tweens become teens and begin developing independence. It may be difficult at times, but try to walk that fine line between staying involved and allowing her more independence.
We all like stability, but middle school is a time of great change. This will cause anxiety as the little boys and girls of elementary school take their first steps toward young adulthood. Here are some ideas to help both of you:
- Stay involved and connected with your daughter. Ask her often about teachers, friends and classes.
- Head online and become familiar with the developmental issues and stages of adolescents. You will know that most of the behavioral changes you’ll see in your daughter are pretty normal, and that should lower your anxiety.
- Keep a daily schedule including after-school activities to ensure consistency and stability. For example: What time will she wake up each morning and when is homework expected to be completed? A schedule promotes security during this time of change and uncertainty.
- Loosen the reins. That may seem to contradict the above, but find areas where your daughter can take on responsibility as she is ready. Perhaps she can help come up with her schedule. Let her chose her wardrobe.
- Set boundaries with social media, as this age is the prime age when a teen starts worrying more about who is posting on Instagram or Snapchat and less about math homework. Monitor social media to prevent bullying and low self-esteem. (No, your child won’t like letting you have passwords and access to accounts.)
- Set social media limits. The smart phone goes on the kitchen counter when its bedtime.
Transition at any age brings fear of the unknown and of unexpected outcomes. Be alert and on your toes as your daughter adapts to hormonal, physical, emotional and cognitive changes. Middle-school students are expected to be more independent and responsible for their own assignments without hovered care. Part of your role is to help your daughter find a healthy balance between doing it alone and recognizing when to ask for help. Middle school won’t be a smooth road. But knowing what to expect can make the inevitable bumps manageable.
Hannah Coble is a licensed clinical social worker and an outpatient therapist at Cone Health Behavioral Health Center at MedCenter Kernersville. To schedule an appointment call 336-993-6120. A referral is preferred but not necessary. Have a question for this column? Send questions to Sherri McMillen at firstname.lastname@example.org.