Are you parenting middle schoolers? Or maybe the time is looming? Well, I have some alarming news. Ready? Here goes…
There is a style of parenting going on out there that is sucking this country dry.
As dry as a 2010 southern farm land. This parenting foundation has built its empire on over indulgence, a great big pile of excuses, enabling mechanisms, a disregard for personal responsibility, and a remarkable ability to impute problems onto others. The nation’s middle school kids are suffering because of it.
A basic bachelor’s degree in psychology and a teaching certification certainly does not make for an expert on parenting middle schoolers. And nor do I claim to be one. Some of you may point out my short reign as a parent. After all, my two children are not yet school age.
Of course, they say data is everything these days. Over the course of my 15 year career as a middle school teacher, I have taught 130-150 adolescents each semester. This comes to roughly 19,000 hours spent teaching and guiding around than 4,000 adolescents, for those who may not feel up for the math. Perhaps this qualifies me to distinguish between good and bad parenting techniques. Perhaps it doesn’t. Just consider this post as the musings of a middle school teacher who may or may not know what she is talking about.
14 Ways To Rock It While Parenting Middle Schoolers
1.) Teach your kids to get along with others. Get. Along. With. Others. In the course of a day, I can’t tell you how much drama goes down at school because some students have zero tolerance for others and for giving a little on their end. It is their way or the highway and they feel everyone else should bend toward them but never
the other way. Some students have learned early on in the home that arguing is the way to get things done. Some have also learned at home that anyone different from themselves is not worthy of their kindness. These little firecrackers will learn the hard way that getting along with people truly is the key to life. It is an enormous part of school, careers, and personal relationships. I’m not sure there is a more important skill for a child to master.
2.) Teach your kids manners. Your kids’ teachers don’t expect to be treated like members of the royal family, but we do expect to be treated with respect. When I ask a student a question, I should not be answered with, “Shoot. Girl, naw.” EVER. And good manners shouldn’t end with adults. Kids need to be taught to bend down and help another student pick up his things when his three-foot-high pile of books cascades out of his arms onto the floor. Once, after encouraging a student to employ manners, she looked at me as though I was delusional and informed me that good manners were “old-fashioned and out of style.” Seriously.
not get everything they want. Period. Some students will flat out tell you they have no intentions of doing chores or
helping out at home because they already get everything they want – WII, iPhones, iPads, concert tickets, designer jeans – without doing a thing. They should be earning many of their material things and recreational opportunities. Today’s kids are beyond indulged. And the idea of waiting for a birthday or Christmas seems as “out of style” as the idea in #2. But this notion of not working is not just a parent-enabled mentality with material possessions. This mentality has taken over everything. Why should every kid make the team when some have clearly worked for it so much more than others? When I was in eighth-grade, I tried out for the junior high cheer team. I was awful. No cheer judge in her right mind should have added me to the team. And no one did.
sense of belonging and ownership, and give students a view of how much it takes to keep things afloat in the world around them. Of course, they should be given plenty of time to be kids, but since when is it taboo for a child to wash dishes and sort laundry at home? Whenever the topic of chores comes up, I’m always shocked at how few students say they are required to do even one chore at home. And the mention of charity or volunteer work brings scoffs from some of them.
they don’t have to pass a certain class or finish out a certain extra-curricular activity in which they chose to commit themselves teaches them responsibilities in life are optional – something we all know is not true. Jobs require things of us we don’t always like but must do. Such is the situation with educational classes and activities. I’ve had parents inform me that they were okay with their child’s F in my exploratory (read: beginner level, slow-paced) Spanish class – a class in which the majority of students find success. They were okay with it because my class “didn’t count” and involved more work and effort than the student wanted to commit for “just an elective.” Huh?
If you are allowing your middle school child to get away without putting in an honest effort into things that challenge him, then you are setting him up for one lifelong, jerky roller coaster ride. Why do that to him?
6.) Kick negative reinforcement to the curb. Stop it already! I mean it! Stop! This point links to #6. A kid takes h0me two Fs on his report card and then he has a brand new iPhone 5s two days later? One gets written up at school this morning but will still go to the movies tomorrow night with his friends? What?!
7) Let your child do his own work. This is a hard one, I know! But if you think the teacher cannot tell when you did that science project for your son, you are kidding yourself. Teachers are much more appreciative by the honest effort of a student – even if the work is not perfect – than an over-achieving effort made by a parent.