Helping Teens Transition from Elementary to Middle School
Growing up isn't easy and the teens of the 21st Century have a lot to deal with, especially when transitioning from elementary to middle school. Such pressures include peer influence, keeping up with the latest fads in loud music, wearing appropriate clothing to avoid being dress-coded at school, texting with one thumb and posting cool photos to social media websites while pretending to do homework.
But seriously, teens entering into middle school truly do have a great deal to navigate as they learn to balance the demands of growing up and with the notion of still being a child. Considered a difficult period for most kids, the changes happening are many: their bodies are rapidly changing, hormones are out of whack and they have to learn new skills such as opening a locker and switching classrooms. This can be a frustrating period and many kids find themselves unable to manage the new situations they that they face.
So how can a parent help? Here are some tips to assist you to guide your tween through the doorway to puberty and lessen the stress:
1. Recognize Differences. Let's face it; times have changed since you were a teen so find the grace to allow your teen to experience this transition fully and on their terms. Be supportive without judgment or expectation.
2. Listen. Kids need a sounding board. Be sure to create a safe place at home for them to share feelings and debrief after a day at middle school. By validating their thoughts without trying to fix or control the situation, you will provide a valuable safe place for their feelings and emotions.
3. Make Time. It can seem like splitting hairs to get a teen to open up, especially when things are confusing, overwhelming and they are distracted. When you engage them in activities that are low stress and that they enjoy doing, they will feel more comfortable to open up. This could be a ride in the car, bedtime, or a trip to the mall. By doing things they love to do, you will find windows of time when they want to talk.
4. Support and Conquer. Times of transition can make anyone feel as though they are losing a grip on life as they know it. When parents provide a consistent and steady support system, they can provide a reliable foundation that kids know will always be available, even when times at school become tough.
5. Forge Ahead. We all make mistakes so be sure to allow your kids to do the same. By validating the situation and discussing the choices that were made, parents can teach their kids how to learn from their mistakes, while being accountable for their actions.
6. Set Boundaries. Kids need structure and can be soothed by consistent routines at home. When you set limitations and establish guidelines for children to follow, they can count on those when life outside the home becomes overwhelming.
It’s a myth to assume that parents can’t relate to teens or that juveniles don’t want to talk to, or don’t need their parents. Although teenagers are mostly focused on relationships with their friends, their parents’ opinions matter too. Having a healthy relationship with your teens involves time and commitment. With consistence, support and a lot of patience, parents can foster a loving, positive relationship with their teens, even during the adolescent years. This bond will give them the foundation they need to transition into high school and will become stronger with time and age.
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