This post on parenting your middle schooler is based on the musings of a middle school teacher and is continued from my first post Parenting Middle Schoolers: 14 Ways to Rock It – Part 1.
The Last 7 Tips on Parenting Your Middle Schooler to Succeed in School
8.) Teach kids there is a time to talk and a time to listen. Your kids were blessed with two ears and one mouth. Teach them to use that ratio as their guide. Students continuously talking over their teachers is one of the biggest problems in the classroom today. Everyone wants to be heard. No one wants to listen. Perhaps this generational norm is the reason I ask for a spicy chicken sandwich with everything except mayo at my favorite fast food place and get home with a chicken patty in a soggy bun drenched in mayo with no veggies. Hearing and listening are two very different things. Of all the communicative skills taught in United States education, the listening skill is the least emphasized. We foreign language teachers have long understood how weak the students’ listening skills are. We basically have to teach them – at 13-17 years of age – how to listen. We need parents’ help with this at home. Teach your kids to be respectful and not talk over others so that they can tune in more to what is being said.
9.) Enforce an understanding: they do it, they own it. If kids are going to call attention to themselves – expressing individuality, behaving foolishly, making awesome accomplishments, whatever – they must be prepared for the attention that follows – whether good or bad. The same goes for parents. Consequences for actions are a way of life. Parenting your middle schooler to accept responsibility sets him on the right path that goes far beyond middle school.
10.) Teach them to deal. Seriously, can no one deal anymore? Teachers and parents simply cannot shield students from everything that will happen to them. Learning to deal is a part of the growing up experience. No, I’m not saying you should sit back and allow your child to be bullied if there is a true bullying situation going on. But I am saying that all children must learn to cope and conform to a certain degree if they (and you) want to live a life with as little drama as possible. Some parents call for a show down anytime any little incident goes on with their kids. Do us all a courtesy and extend the lesson of coping to your own child. Someone has to teach him to blow off the small, annoying things that happen daily. To parent a middle schooler correctly, he must be taught to face disappointment.
11.) Accept that your children are not perfect. When you go after someone else (student, teacher, principal, another parent), be prepared to accept the truth about your own child and what her role may have been in a particular situation. Sometimes a student does not have all the facts she needs to give an accurate account. Other times, a student’s version of a story may be twisted or convoluted in an effort to keep herself out of trouble. Think about it. Did you never tell just a tiny lie or twist some facts when you were a kid in order to take some heat off of yourself? I know I sure did! That is the natural way humans operate. Especially young humans.Speaking of twisting things…you would be shocked if you knew some of the things kids say about their parents at school. Again, kids twist things – sometimes just for shock value or to outdo someone else’s story. I won’t believe everything a student says about you if you don’t believe everything he says about me. When in doubt, hold a civil discussion with the person in question rather than a.) going over the person’s head to his/her boss or b.) jumping down his/her throat in sheer anger.
Much of the time, students and their teachers are able to put an incident behind them pretty quickly. It is often the parent who cannot move forward.
12.) Hold your kids accountable. As far as grades, your child will excel at some skills. He may even excel at most. But understand that when your child does not perform as well as usual, it is not an invitation from the teacher to rage a war. Your child’s teacher has not suddenly taken on a campaign of hate toward your child. Teachers are too exhausted and overburdened to even concoct such an idea. Simply, your child may have had an off day or may have not put in the effort he usually does.
The same goes with communications from your child’s teacher concerning classroom behavioral issues. Much of the time, I have been fortunate to work with supportive parents who hold a high standard for their children’s behavior. However, all teachers have likely had the experience of encountering a parent who takes the situation for exactly what it is not – the teacher “picking on” the student. Puh-lease. After a long exhausting day in the classroom with 130-150 students, most middle school teachers are anxious to get home to their own families and lives. The last thing we want to do in stay until 6 p.m. calling parents to discuss unpleasant situations which were typically preventable actions on part of the child. Kids make mistakes. When they do, hold them accountable. Quit looking for someone else to blame.
13.) Express your concerns in a polite way without bullying. Parents of students? Bullying? Ohhhhhhh, yeah. One of the biggest stressors faced by teachers is the growing rate of bully parents. Sometimes these bullies win. Sometimes they lose. It’s a risky game. Don’t do it. Unless you want your kid truly to be a chip off the old block, don’t do it. Kids with bullying tendencies often have parents with bullying tendencies. Their eyes and ears are upon you. Never forget.
14.) Never ever ever behave like this lady.
She is everywhere already. Trust me. (Wonderful video courtesy of You Tube user Sleepyprincesszzz.)
Whew! Lots of musings. Thanks for hanging in there! Parenting your middle schooler is exhausting and branches new territory and challenges. Although veteran middle school teachers are familiar with typical middle school behavior, it is no less exhausting. Teachers and parents unite!
Don’t forget to check out the first post on parenting your middle schooler!