Helping Parents Adjust to Middle School

Making the transition from elementary school to middle school can be tough, especially when so many schools have begun to incorporate 6th graders into the middle school programs. This article offers suggestions for parents whose children are making the transition to middle school.

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Elementary school is a time of growth and physical development for children, but in terms of maturity and emotional development, the years between 6th and 8th grade are far more difficult. The life of a 5th grader is full of recreational sports, recess, and is one of the last years before being 'cool' is more important than having fun. 6th grade is an interesting and difficult transition time in the life of your child, especially if your local middle school includes 6th grade. 6th graders are faced with the pressures to dress right, be popular, say the right things, and assert their freedoms, but still want to be silly and childish, and aren't always ready for the social pressures of middle school. This may be even harder if your child is a late bloomer, or if your she has a hard time fitting into the new social situation.

Middle school tends to drive some parents crazy, and many parent/child fights break out during this time, but keep in mind that your child is looking, for perhaps the first time, to assert himself or herself into a new social environment; if most adults take an honest look at their middle school career, they will remember feeling left out, clueless, and completely insecure themselves.

Remember that, above all, you are your child's ultimate role model, and you will shape the path that your child chooses. During this time, your child desperately needs your support and wisdom, but also the freedom to begin making decisions for himself and encouragement to be confident in those decisions. It is also important to encourage your child to retain their childish hobbies; many children think that they must put away their Barbies or remote control cars for good, but hanging on to the accessories of childhood can help them make the transition more comfortably.

It is hard to go from being your child's best friend to being the enemy; unfortunately, many middle schoolers fight to keep up the impression that they are 'too cool' for their parents, that they have moved beyond the neediness of childhood. However, it is more important than ever to establish communication with your child, and to maintain a close relationship; if lines of communication are shut down now, it may be years before they reopen. Resist the urge to condemn or judge your child for decisions they make, try to keep an open ear and an open mind. However, establish guidelines, and stick to them. If children need understanding during this time in their lives, they also need security, and guidelines are a way to make children feel secure.

Most importantly, don't give up! Middle school can be a difficult time for parents and children, but it can also be extremely exciting and rewarding to see your child behave in newer, more adult ways.

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