- Get informed. There are a lot of rumors flying around about sexting, rainbow parties, drug use and more. Some of these are in fact true and supported by feedback from local police agencies. But we need not panic. Become a parent a parent who knows the facts by joining the PTO at your school, and reading relevant books and articles on the teen years.
- Back to school tour. Participate in school offerings from the tour offered at most middle schools to the parent education seminars provided during the year. Learn what activities your school has to offer so that your kids are busy developing skills through activities at school such as sports, photography, art, music and dance. Research shows that kids who are involved in activities have less down town, less screen time and develop friendships with more productive schoolmates.
- Take your tween seriously. Your tween is closer now to being an adult than a child. Your role is moving more toward mentor and coach. Respect your tween’s personal privacy. I don’t mean fail to check their room if you suspect drug use. But I do mean stop talking about them, sharing their experiences with your friends and talking about them like they are a youngster. Having them overhear you on the phone talking about their stuff is the fastest way to make them feel outed. They’ll clam up like no tomorrow.
- Problem solving. Teach your child problem solving and decision making skills by listening carefully to their concerns and generating solutions with them. Allow them some personal space where you do not constantly question. Allow them to come to you to start a dialogue. If you must, use open ended questions and refrain from offering your immediate opinions.
- Make time for your tweens. Just cause they are into their friends doesn’t mean they are not into you. Find out what interests them and learn how to participate. If it’s a sport, art or music, get with the current trends so that you can express interest and share their enthusiasm. Finding common ground is the key.
There is a lot of opportunity for middle school to be a time of growth, adventure and skill building.