At the same time students enter and go through Middle School, students often start to stray from the everyday influences of parents and become more impacted by what their friends “think and do.” If their friends think it’s not cool to do well in school, your straight “A” student may study sporadically, or even lose interest in school altogether. Although these students may want to get good grades, they may want to be included in the group more. Boys, who mature ahead of other boys, are often at a social and athletic advantage. Girls, who mature faster than their friends may feel like a social outcast. Since kids spend most of their time at school, what happens there, and how they feel about it, has a direct effect on learning.
While most kids look forward to these years, it doesn’t always make for smooth sailing. Change, large or small, is easier for some than others. Cliques, bullies, and the pressure to conform, can leave an adolescent feeling confused, angry, or flooded with self-doubt. Parents, you can do some of the following to keep the communication open and to stay involved in your child’s daily routine:
- Help your student manage stress by making sure he/she eats right, exercises regularly, and gets enough sleep.
- Remain approachable. Encourage your student to open up about what’s going on at school—but don’t interrogate. Your goal is to keep him/her talking so they realize they can count on you. On days when they are sullen, chat about your day before asking about theirs. If they still don’t feel like talking, don’t push, but keep the door open for a later conversation.
- Tune in. Look for situations in which you can listen to middle schoolers' conversations without making it seem like you’re eavesdropping. You can learn a lot while carpooling kids to and from activities.
- Bolster social skills. If your student says he/she has no friends, help them find ways to get to know classmates better. Consider whether they may be pushing friends away. Does he/she always interrupt or hog the conversation? Does he/she always have to be right, first, or best, or is he/she extremely shy? The counseling department may be able to help with suggestions.
Adolescents, although they may seem to draw away from parents at times, still need and want the structure and guidance that families provide. If you have questions, please feel free to contact the Counseling Department at 348-3418 or your grade level supports directly.