The middle school years are a critical time in a child’s development, but it can be a difficult time for parents.
Middle schoolers are leaving behind elementary school and entering a larger environment with more classes, more students to rub shoulders with, and more responsibility. They’ll also face pressures they’ve never had to deal with before.
Helping your child through these changes is no easy task, but with a little guidance from our guest on a recent program, Dr. Kevin Leman, these years can be positive and a time of maturity and growth in your child’s life.
Dr. Leman suggests parents focus on three important pillars he calls the “ABCs of parenting.”
The first letter is “A,” which means to make certain your child feels accepted by you. Most children face judgment of some kind from fellow students every day at school. Everyone is either too tall or too short or has body parts that are too big or too small. That’s why the home must be a place of respite, of acceptance, and of true love.
Middle schoolers will often push the parent to see, “Do you really love me?” Kids don’t literally ask the question, of course. Instead, they closely observe how their parents treat them. But it’s all for the purpose of answering that question.
“B” is for belonging. Kids will do almost anything to fit in. That can be a scary thought for parents. Your child is growing up. Their hormones are emerging. Their body is changing at warp speed, and they’re taking notice of the opposite sex. Put all of those things together, and it’s combustible.
But you can’t pull away from your middle schooler in the midst of all of that confusion. You have to step toward them, be present, and be engaged.
The “C” is for competence. It’s really important that your children feel like they’re somebody. For some kids, it’s on the football field. For other kids, it’s in the classroom or their art class, or they can play an instrument well. Having someone who has their back and believes in them can transform their lives. Kids do best when they know their parent is their cheerleader.
There’s a reason Dr. Leman has been one of our most popular guests over the years. The two days we spent with him are filled with practical ideas and tips for how to help your middle schooler deal with a litany of issues, everything from peer pressure to bullying. He’ll also help you better understand the changes your middle schooler is going through and to learn how to respond instead of react even while maintaining a sense of humor in the household.
My wife, Jean, will also be joining us with a few questions of her own, as well as sharing her insights from raising our two boys.