Welcome to Middle School: Easing Your Child’s Anxiety

Things are about to change in a big way for you and your soon-to-be middle schooler. You’re both bound to be anxious about this transition, but for different reasons. For you, it’s dealing with peer pressure, mood swings, and managing increased homework. For your middle schooler, it’s finding classes, eating alone at lunch, making the soccer team, and worrying about friends who may be going to a different middle school.

Minimize Anxiety

It’s normal for parents and children to feel anxious. Transitions of any kind often spark fear and worry because it’s new and unfamiliar territory. It will be reassuring and will give you (both)  peace of mind if you can attend all the events the school holds before school starts.

Encourage your child to talk with their new teachers at meet and greets. Walk the hallways repeatedly if that is what it takes for them to get a good mental image of their wing, where homeroom is, the cafeteria, bathrooms, locker, office, and so on. Another fear is how they’ll find you in the carpool line or where the buses park. Ask about the details to ease first day anxiety.

Friends or Foes?

Your child may have a core group of friends from elementary following them to middle school, but sometimes school boundaries will dictate friends going to different schools, or they may just acquire new friends who are a grade older.

Peer pressure can be pretty intense in middle school. Encourage them to take their time when finding new friends. Keep communicating your family values and be eager to listen anytime they want to share. They will be apt to come to you with questions and concerns about their peers if you do. Encourage them to settle into the daily routine of school before seeking out new friends. Waiting to see how people interact with others and who they hang out with will give your child insight on who they may want to steer clear of, and who would be a good friend.

Extra-Curricular Overload

Middle school will be the birth of a new social age. Having friends, being accepted by friends, and hanging out with friends will just about trump any activity – family or academic. One way they can accomplish this is through extra-curricular activities.

It’s good to be busy with sports, music, and academic clubs, but make sure they are there for the right reason. After all, these can get expensive and time consuming when you’re driving and volunteering to help. You may want to limit the amount of activities and urge them to pursue ones they are genuinely interested in, including community-oriented ones, so the focus isn’t just on hanging out with friends. 

What Not to Wear

Middle school is the time when children are developing a sense of self. It may include a few different phases of looks and hairstyles. Having the right clothes – whether your child is into the latest trends or prefers a thrift shop vintage look – is crucial for them at this stage of the game.

Parents know it’s not the clothes or hair that makes a person, but those things may give them a confidence boost, so it’s not so bad to indulge a bit. (Although don’t forget to talk about the importance of having positive characteristics. It’s what’s inside that counts!)

Return of the Terrible Two’s

As your child develops physically and emotionally, expect turmoil. There will be times that your middle schooler will act like an irrational toddler or an absolute angel. Experts have found the adolescent brain doesn’t fully develop until age of twenty-four. Roll with the punches. Pay attention to the daily drama. Listen, but don’t rush in to offer suggestions on how to solve their problems. These experiences will teach them how to cope later in life.

Show you’re interested in their life, and they will invite you into theirs. Peer pressure and bullying can have devastating consequences, but if you’re present, you can stand alongside them and empower them through it. Keep calm, be firm yet nurturing, and you’ll create a home where your child can navigate the middle school waters with assurance that you’ll have their back. 

How do you plan on easing your middle schooler’s worries? Share your advice with us!

Tags : education   school   tweens   milestones   



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