Middle School Education News
Parents Must Stay Involved if Young Adolescents Are to Succeed
Prepared by the Association for Middle Level Education
COLUMBUS (OH)-A 10- to 15-year-old may act as if he or she wants parents to stay out of his or her life, but it's essential that parents stay engaged in the lives of these young adolescents if they are to succeed." That's the best strategy parents can keep in mind dealing with their young adolescents.
"Parents better be ready for change when their child enters the early adolescence years, but it's natural change," said William Waidelich, executive director of the Association for Middle Level Education, the nation's leading educational group focusing specifically on the needs of 10- to 15-year-olds. "This timeframe has been called the second most important period in a person's development, and it's when children are experiencing tremendous emotional, behavioral, physical and intellectual changes. That's why parents must be there to support and encourage their young adolescent."
Waidelich recommends that parents consider five action steps to help their students:
- Think ahead. One of our best tools as parents is being prepared. As your son or daughter enters the middle school years, get ready for at least occasional conflicts. Think through what is truly important to you, and focus your energy on those big issues. Is your youngster's hairstyle really as important as homework? Isn't curfew more of a concern than crabbiness?
- If the issue is minor, keep things light. The shoes on the floor, the wet towel on the bed, the carton left open; these are maddening, but not earth-shattering. Call attention to them in a light way, so your middle-schooler knows you want action but you aren't being punitive. "Either the cat's smarter than I thought or you left the milk carton open on the counter. One of you please put it back before it spoils."
- Don't use power unless it's urgent. Parents have the ultimate power, and kids know it. We don't have to "prove" it to them at every turn. Save your strength for those really important issues you've decided are non-negotiable.
- Encourage your middle schooler to keep a daily "to-do" list. Stick with daily; weekly is too much. Put a few things on the list that need to be done that day. It may be necessary to assign a specific time to each task. When it's completed, draw a line through the task to show accomplishment. This strategy will help young adolescents learn responsibility and planning.
- Break down big chores into smaller parts. Sometimes young people feel overwhelmed by tasks and give up rather than getting started. If there are 12 overdue school assignments, focus on one Thursday night, another on Friday, and five during the weekend.
Parents are essential in the lives of young adolescents," said Waidelich. "Even though your child may scream, 'Get out of my face,' he or she needs and eventually will appreciate your support. When parents and schools work together, kids succeed. Contact your child's teachers and principal to discuss working together."
Parents can receive a complimentary copy of "Tips for Parents" from AMLE by going to the association's website, www.amle.org/Advocacy/PressRoom/MiddleSchoolEducationNews/Articles/Article1/ Tips/tabid/394/Default.aspx, or by phoning 1-800-528-6672.