Preparing your tween to survive middle school

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We love our children. We want them to have a better life than we did. Loving your child and being tough on them is sometimes the best thing for them. It is also one of the hardest things to do as a parent. We want to protect them and keep them safe. As they grow, we need to let go a little bit at a time so that they can figure out their own way in the world. It is hard sometimes.

Your child goes off to school. Throughout their school years, they learn who they are through socialization with other children. As a parent, you have passed on your values to them and you hope that the basics stick. Then they enter middle school.

For a lot of girls, middle school is an emotional roller coaster. Girls have entered puberty and a whole new world. Some girls do fine. They remain focused on schoolwork and although they might be a little insecure they adapt. Other girls don’t do as well. Interest in boys becomes more important than schoolwork. Relationships with friends are fragile. Girls between 12 and 14 years old can be catty and mean. Learning the coping skills necessary to deal with it is something that they just don’t teach in class.

As a mom, I can go back and remember my middle school experience. I was insecure, not popular and desperate to fit it. I know now that I wasn’t all that different from my peers.

Over dramatizing a situation is common for a 13 year old girl. Their moods bounce from ecstatic to doom in a heartbeat. Their mood swings can usually be traced to some social incident that happened. One day they are best friends with someone. The next day they are no longer friends. Middle school relationships are not fair. It is more of a dog eat dog world. Everyone, on some level, is insecure. How they portray themselves is the only difference. Gossip and humiliation are common. Emotions are running high and out of control. I remember thinking if only I could stay home until it passed. Of course, I struggled through.

When it becomes your child’s turn to be humiliated by their “best” friend and they beg you to let them stay home that is when tough love comes into action. You get angry. You remember what it felt like. You don’t want to see your child feel bad. Part of life, part of growing up is having to deal with these situations. I can’t fix this for her. If I fix this, which of course, I can’t, how is she ever going to learn how to deal with a tough situation?

The best thing to do, the only thing I can do is to teach her how to cope. If you run away from every conflict in your life how are you ever going to learn to deal with things? There are difficult people in this world. Sometimes you cannot avoid having to face them. We would prefer to surround ourselves with positive people who make us feel good. It isn’t always possible to pick and choose who you come into contact with.

Give support in encouraging your child to communicate with you. Keeping the dialog open is always going to be of benefit. Hugs and tears are good. You need to release the pain. You cannot fix the situation. You child is growing up and growing up means learning how to deal with life. Remind your child how quickly these relationships change. These are all life lessons on trust and friendship. Giving in to letting your child run away from difficult situations is not going to help her learn how to cope with them. It is hard to see them in such emotional pain. Sometimes tough love is the only choice.


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