Parenting middle schoolers is no easy task! If you’re a mom or dad who’s nervous about parenting your children the right way and would like some strategies on how to raise successful children, you’re at the right place!
Below, we debunk common misconceptions parents have, and put together our best advice for parents of middle school students!
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Misconception #1: Be as directive as possible
Advice: Engagement with your children is very important, especially at this stage of life. However, it would be wise to refrain from being dictating and telling your kids what to do. In fact, it should be quite the opposite – “ask your child what they think, feel, believe, and show them that you value and respect their opinion”, Dr. Stephen Covert, Principal at the Pine View School for the Gifted shares. Listen to what they have to say about the topic and leave wait time before you share your own thoughts with them. Remember that respect is the key to building a strong relationship with your child.
Misconception #2: Gather too much information
Advice: No doubt it’s important to note down test dates, holidays, and everything in between. However, it’s also important to let your child take charge of his/her own education journey. Middle school is a great time to start honing their sense of responsibility and letting them learn to be independent.Instead of scrawling the school website, you can ask your child when the important dates are. This ensures that they too are aware and keeping track of their own schedule.
Misconception #3: Emphasise only academics
Advice: To many parents, the definition of success is to do well in school. As such, they pin their kid’s ability to their school grades. However, for children to truly flourish, they must first be given the opportunity to explore their interests, and to find out where their passions lie. Every kid is unique; let them pave their own way to success. After all, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Misconception #4: Set unattainable expectations
Advice: Be realistic with what you think your child can achieve. Setting challenging yet achievable targets motivates them to try their best. Making it too easy would result in your child not putting in any effort to improve, while making it too difficult may cause them to give up since they know it’s unreachable. Most importantly, get your child to set their own goals and be there mostly to guide them along.
Misconception #5: Have total control over their schedule
Advice: A common mistake parents make is to come up with a plan themselves, and demand that their children follow it. Active parenting is not the same as helicopter parenting. Let your kids decide what they want to do with their time. By giving them a sense of ownership, they’ll be more likely to stick to the schedule. Your job as a parent is to give them tips on time management and ensure that they maintain a good balance between work and play.
Misconception #6: Focus only on content covered in tests
Advice: Studying smart is the way to go. Learning how to take useful notes in class, and having the discipline to consistently review and revise them goes a long way. What parents often forget is cultivating the spirit of lifelong learning. Without the hunger for knowledge, kids would only care about what’s on the test and study for the sake of it. On the other hand, having that curiosity and enthusiasm for learning would place them in a good position to find out more on their own, and doing well in school would come naturally.
Misconception #7: Approach the school for the slightest issues
Advice: Parents and teachers are in a partnership when it comes to a child’s growth. Escalating every small issue is not always the best way to go. Often, this may cause your child even more embarrassment when news spreads. It also deprives them of the chance to learn from their mistakes and solve their own problems. Start with the assumption that the school is likely doing their best to educate your children too. Instead of picking faults, try your best to support the teachers in handling their students.
Misconception #8: Pester your children about their day
Advice: It’s great to stay connected with your kids by getting them to share about their day, especially what they’re doing online, but parents should also keep in mind that children at this stage are starting to value their privacy more. So, don’t feel too dejected if your son/daughter is not as open as before. To avoid coming across as prying, make sure to give them some personal space if they ask for it. Nevertheless, you can reassure your children that you’ll always be there for them, and that you are more than happy to hear them talk about anything and everything. Let your children know that “they have someone who loves them, who will not judge them, and who can share how they successfully (and maybe not so successfully) handled the challenges of adolescence”, says Dr. Covert.
Misconception #9: Overload them with extracurricular activities
Advice: Parents should understand that the main purpose of extracurriculars is not to boost a child’s resume and portfolio. Rather, signing up for extracurricular activities is a good way for children to do what they enjoy and they play a crucial role in healthy development and well-being. The takeaway here is to let your child decide the type of activities and their level of involvement in them. Your role is to encourage them and make sure that they do not overload themselves.
Misconception #10: Scrutinize all their friends
Give your children freedom to socialize, and trust their friendship choices. Instead of scrutinizing their friends, what you should do instead is to teach these impressionable minds how to differentiate right from wrong. Another thing to do is to inoculate them against peer pressure – tell them that just because everyone is doing something doesn’t mean it’s right.
Misconception #11: Reward every effort
As proud parents, we love celebrating our children’s achievements. However, it’s not the best idea to reward your children for every single milestone and effort, especially when they do not succeed. Children must learn at some point that not every effort produces immediate results. In life, results often take time to show, and some work may simply lead to dead ends. Use early failures as opportunities to instill in your child the value of perseverance.
Misconception #12: Answer all their questions
Advice: Sometimes, it’s better to ask your child guiding questions and let them come to an answer themselves. If they need more help, don’t be afraid to offer hands-on guidance. Find a fun way to explain things to them, be it in the form of an anecdote, experiment, or even on a family trip to experience the phenomenon they were curious about!