Being There for Your Middle Schooler
While our kids are young we go out of the way to make sure our kids are safe and cared for especially in our absence. We adjust our schedules, search out the best (and often the most expensive) daycare, enroll the kids in after school programs, take them to lessons, make sure they are active in sports, organize play dates, help with homework/projects, know all their friends and basically supervise all waking hours, just to make sure our kids have a chance and stay out of trouble.
All of a sudden, the kids are older, better able to take care of themselves and frankly pushing their parents away. There is no need to be home the minute they walk in the door. You may want to go back to work or increase your hours significantly. The kids are ready for more independence. However, don’t think they do not need you.
Middle School is a time where kids really need as much if not more supervision than they did when they were little. You just have to do it from a distance. One of the biggest mistakes parents make at the middle school level is to assume they do not have to keep a close eye on their kids.
Here are some simple things to keep in mind……..
*Know where your kids are all the time
*Make sure they know how to get a hold of you all the time-cell phones make it easy but it is not a replacement for your presence. If you are in a position to adjust your schedule so you are around after school do it, don’t think twice or rationalize, it will be the best gift you ever give your child.
*Make an effort to get to know your kids friends and their parents
*Don’t let them go to friends houses unless you have met the parents and call to make sure someone is going to be home
*Encourage them to get involved in after school activities-the advantage of this goes without saying
*Make sure you are available to get them to their activities or that they can get themselves there prepared and on time.
*Arrange pick up times-don’t leave this open ended especially at night. This will avoid begging and pleading via cell phones.
*Middle school aged children may still need some help with organization.
*By 7th or 8th grade, the average student should be independent with homework. However, if your child is having problems sit down with them just like you did when they were little.
*Keep an eye on your child’s progress in school. Lots of schools offer grading systems that are on line. I often know my kids grades before they do.
*A child’s behavior after school is not a school issue it is yours so take responsibility and deal with it.
*Schools are not a replacement for parents
*Don’t make excuses for a middle school age child’s bad behavior. Make them take responsibility for their actions. You will be providing them one of the best life lessons.
*If you child lies, makes bad choices or breaks a simple house rule-get stricter until they earn your trust back.
*Never tolerate bad behavior especially if it is directed at others
*Follow through on all consequences.
*Have expectations for your kids. They need to know effort with school and other activities is expected.
*Praise your child often
*Talk to your child and better yet listen to your child
11-14 years of age is not that old. Kids need to know you are interested and care. Everything mentioned above are common sense suggestions most of us followed religiously when our kids are small. Don’t stop just because your kids are looking and acting a little more grown up. Without parental guidance, it is hard for kids to develop good self image, take advantage of opportunities available and develop good values.