Here it Comes! The Transition to Middle School
You've been anticipating this for the past few years — your child's transition from elementary school to middle school. This is an exciting time of growth for your child and will call for extra involvement on your part. Your son or daughter may still seem young, but their new surroundings can put them in some mature and tempting situations.
To many middle-school kids, peer approval means everything. Your child is going through a time where he feels as though he should be able to make his own decisions and may start to challenge your values. While your child may physically and emotionally pull away from you to establish his own identity — and may even seem embarrassed by you at times — he actually needs you to be involved more than ever.
Also, be aware that your child is going through some major physical changes. Keep yourself educated on what to expect — if you reassure her that nothing is out of the ordinary, your child can relax knowing that what she's going through is normal.
Your child is going to meet lots of new kids, seek acceptance, and start to make more and bigger choices over the next few years. For the first time, your kids may be exposed to older kids who use alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
To help your child make good choices during this critical time, you can:
- Get your kids involved with adult-supervised after-school activities – like sports, clubs or YAS.
- Give kids who are unsupervised after school a schedule of activities, limits on their behavior, household chores to accomplish, and a strict phone-in-to-you policy.
- Get to know your child’s friends by taking them to and from after-school activities, games, the library, movies, etc. Also get to know her friends' parents and check in with them often.
- Volunteer for activities where you can be involved at the school.
- Hold a weekly family meeting to check in with each other and address problems or concerns.
- Call kids' parents if their home is to be used for a party; make sure the parents will be supervising.
- Set curfews and enforce them.
- Find out if your child really understands the consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and make it very clear that you do not want him to use them.
- Encourage open dialogue with your children about their experiences.