You're kid is thinking, "Wow - I'm in the big leagues now!!' You're thinking, "How did my baby grow up so fast!!" Middle school truly represents a huge milestone. Often times, middle schools can be on a high school campus, which means your youngster will be exposed to the behaviors of much older teens. Let's also not forget that middle school kids are typically beginning to develop physically and to lay their claim to declaring some measure of independence from their parents. Of course, moving on to middle school often means a change of schools or geographic locations, leaving close friends and the comfort of an environment that has nurtured you for some time. So this very exciting time can mean very conflicting feelings for your child. These feelings can be hidden well if your son or daughter finds it shameful to share concerns or misgivings or even fears, or it can mean some unusual behavior patterns, sometimes negative in nature. Your role as a parent, with your own set of misgivings, is to be intuitive.
So if your child starts to act out, be disrespectful, develop physical complaints that don't make sense, they may be feeling anxiety or stress about middle school. If there's a change in appetite or sudden weight loss or weight gain, they may be engaging in stressful eating or they may be experiencing loss of appetite associated with anxiety. At this age you would assume that your child's level of maturity would make it easy for them to express their doubts and fears. But at this age there is a huge conflict - hiding emotions versus revealing vulnerability. So it's your job to really be detective as you try to assess how they really feel about moving over to middle school. And simple communication may be the key. So here is a list of questions you can use as a guide. Remember that sometimes finding a casual circumstance like driving them (and friends) somewhere, or preparing a meal together, or shopping might be a perfect time to have a conversation.
You can ask:
- So where are your friends all going to be going next year? How do you feel about that?
- Are any of your friends apprehensive about moving on to middle school? Are you?
- What do you think the new campus will be like? Do you like the idea of changing to a totally new environment?
- What have you heard about the middle school teachers? The sports programs? The campus size and kids who go there?
Remember that sometimes it's when you don't ask specific questions and just let your kid(s) ramble a bit, that you may get the clues you need to clarify just what they think about this change in their lives. Ultimately they value what you think and they can sense a supportive and non-judgmental stance. Sharing your own personal triumphs and struggles can go a long way to connecting with your kid as they move into this next phase of their lives. Keeping the conversations ongoing means you continue to stay connected with your child as the school year unfolds and new journeys begin.
Published On: September 15, 2009