Middle and Secondary school means changes to the family routine. It’s also a time when relationships start to change. This is the second part of the series of things middle school parents need to know. Read the first part here.
You’re not alone yet it’s the time when we see less of the other school families at the school gate and the school activities. It’s a time when we start to worry more. Let’s find some solutions and directions to be proactive in supporting this next step for our families.
Tune in and keep up
Read and listen to things that give you a conversation and link to your child. It gets harder to connect as they get older but if you establish regular reading, listening activities together it’s easier to have conversations about it and often other things come up when there’s already a regular conversation.
Resources: about time management, character conversations cards, 7 habits of teens, Straight talk for kids, AYOA, podcasts, Youtube, news articles
Find trusted others
Our kids need to connect with other good parents, good adults and mentors. Not perfect. This takes time, guidance and trust for us.
How: Look in the local offline social places you enjoy, family friends and others that match your child’s personality.
Alone time in
They need alone time without their siblings when they have access to us to just shoot the breeze, be close, speak into the silence and ask questions. There are things that just can’t be said around brothers and sisters.
They need you to ask about lessons, clubs, friendships, teachers, odd situations and share good things. They see and hear all sorts of things all day. They need the balance and righting of the ship regularly. Because we all remember the crazy things that were said at this stage and the reality that really wasn’t as it seemed. There’s peace to know that life isn’t like this always. They need to talk about what they’ve seen and experienced. They’ll speak even more when we don’t react with our body language before they’ve finished.
How: Check into your schedule. Are there times when each child has the opportunity to check in and hang without siblings around. Find time for a regular quick walk after a meal, when you just get home etc. Bedtime storytime might have changed to bedtime conversations. A time when it’s just you and your child. Listen without laughing at their ideas.
Media phones and electronics
Middle schoolers need firm limits and conversations around media use including talking about the benefits, how they spend free time on social media, and how it happens in your house. They’ll experience more than ever the pressure from peers as other families allow things and do things yours may not. We all have different values and reasons. Be amenable to discussions and explanations.
How: Those family meetings play a crucial role as a time for discussion about media from both your points of view.
Establish the habits now of conversation around media and maintain them. Have issues around binge watching Netflix? Talk to your friends/partner about it. We (all) go on self-imposed fasts from media to get us right side up and reset. Instead of making it a battle for us and them as these devices come into play keep the conversation going about our use, their use and how we’re getting our work done. Honestly, there’s not one way that works for every family but there is a better way that works for your family. It’s just a case of finding out.
Resources: Back to school: Figuring out a media plan, questions to ask, the savvy parents club with Galit breen
Things Middle School Parents need to know- Part 1
Things Middle School Parents need to know- Part 2