If you have a child entering middle school this year, it’s likely you will be experiencing a whole new set of parenting challenges. Psychologist Brenda Hunter has some practical advice for moms and dads who have kids in that stage of life.
Brenda suggests you become a student of your child. Because early adolescence brings so many changes, learn all you can about your child from his teachers, pediatrician, youth director, and other parents.
Insist on respect and show respect. Remember that love and respect fit together like hand and glove. Insist that your child speaks to others politely as well.
Talk to your child about her friendships openly. Make sure you know where she fits in. Remind her that having friends—not being popular—will make her happiest over the long haul.
Pay attention to what your child loves to do. Ask him questions about what makes him happy, and find ways for him to do those activities with other kids.
Brenda also reminds us to protect our children’s sleep. Kids in middle school need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep per night.
Maintain tech-free bedrooms. Keep computers, laptops, televisions, and gaming equipment in common areas.
Tell your child the truth about drugs, sex, and alcohol. Don’t leave it to the school or his friends to educate him.
Reclaim your spiritual role. Brenda reminds us that even more than the church, parents are the most powerful spiritual influence in their kids’ lives.
And finally, Brenda says let your kids experience real-life consequences. Teach kids to make it right with others when they make mistakes. Do not spare your child from the real-world consequences of his or her actions.
For more solid advice on parenting your middle-schooler, check out Brenda’s book From Santa to Sexting: Helping Your Child Safely Navigate Middle School and Shape the Choices that Last a Lifetime.I’m Bill Maier for WBCL.