Middle school is considered by many adults to have been the worst time in their lives from a social standpoint. Children in middle school are in the throes of puberty and are trying desperately to understand their place in the social strata of the world. It’s a rough time.
Meanwhile, as the parent of a middle schooler, you might not know what to do to help them. Here are a few of our tips for helping middle schoolers deal with the most awkward time of their lives.
How do You Help a Middle Schooler?
Middle school is a lot of things. It’s awkward, it’s difficult to navigate, and it’s a huge jump ahead from elementary school. Due to the different ages at which kids mature, some children may be getting taller and growing secondary characteristics of their sex. Others may still be waiting for puberty to start and feel strange compared to their classmates.
Helping a kid through this transition can be difficult. How you address their issues at this point in their life can be unclear, and there are no easy answers. The best thing to do is to offer help and guidance, but not to stamp down with authority. If your child wants to try a new clothing style, or hang out with new friends, then let them.
Attempting to clamp down in a harsh way on a young student who might already be having trouble navigating the social norms of their school can backfire in a big way.
Supportive at Any Distance
Some pre-teens might find themselves not wanting to spend time with their family the same way they did when they were younger. They might distance themselves from all things “kiddy” and “childish” in an effort to “grow up” and be “cool.” This is normal, and it’s okay.
If your child doesn’t want to hang out with the family, wants to stick to their room and try out new styles and signifiers, don’t stand in their way. Doing so will only foster further resentment and ostracize them from you. Stay supportive and keep a respectable distance if they ask for it.
When they need help or advice, offer it gently. If they don’t take it, then that’s on them to decide. As long as they’re not engaging in self-destructive behavior, there’s no reason to put your foot down. They’ll grow through this, and when they do, they’ll be happy you were supportive the whole time.