If you’re the parent of a middle schooler, I have a suggestion for you: buckle up.
This may be the most tumultuous time in childhood.
It’s like a prism that focuses a remarkable amount of life change into a short time span. Our two boys are smack in the center of their middle school years, so we’re witnessing it firsthand.
The physical, mental, and hormonal changes alone are intense. But many kids also face the added stress of leaving behind elementary school and entering a larger environment with more classes, new friends to meet, and more responsibility to bear. There will almost certainly be new pressures they’ve never encountered before.
For those reasons, and others, it’s also one of the most crucial times in a child’s development. It’s the season of life where, with the right direction, a child begins to discover his or her identity.
At this age, kids are asking themselves, “Who am I?” And that’s where we come in, parents. We play a vital role in helping our children answer that question.
Children get much of their identity from what we say about them and what we don’t say, how we react to them and how we don’t react.
Let’s say your child is shy. If you continually take a negative tone with your child and say, “Why are you so shy? Why don’t you talk more?”, you’re reinforcing a perception of themselves that will be difficult to overcome.
Think of it. If shyness becomes a negative identity, how will your son or daughter be confident enough at school to interact with new friends?
So imagine the difference if you frame who they are in a positive light. “You’re shyness is what makes you such a good listener and so willing to care for others.” That’s a completely different message.
Of course, shyness is only one example. The application fits no matter what characteristic you’re talking about. Kids are most happy, joyful, and content and have the greatest sense of identity when they get positive affirmation from their mom and dad.
That’s just one of the ideas for helping your child develop a healthy identity we’ll be discussing in detail over the next couple of programs with our guest, Dr. Kathy Koch. She’s the founder of Celebrate Kids, an education expert, and a popular speaker who has written a number of books.
If you have a child in middle school or headed there soon, you’ll want to tune in. I think you’ll find the information we share invaluable. But if you’re not a parent, or your children haven’t quite hit the 10-14-year age range, I think you’ll still derive a lot of benefit from these broadcasts because the information can be useful with kids of all ages.