Monday, August 12, 2013

Back To School - Middles

You remember what being in middle school was like.  You remember recess being fun, doing plays & playing the recorder in music class, you remember "nature walks" and field trips, you remember playing soccer or basketball and travelling for games & tournaments.

Middle school is an amazing time in your child's life, as they are set in their school routine, know that they have homework to do, know which subjects they like, and which they need to work harder at.  Middle school is also where your child starts to really develop a personality, a group of friends, along with their own morals and values.  

Although all of these great things are happening during middle school, these years can be tough on your child.  With all of the above positives, there are other things to watch for:

Developing own personalities - is your child's personality something to be concerned about?  Is he/she lashing out?  Are there more tears than smiles?

Groups of friends - is your child hanging out with others that are easy to get along with?  Are they nice?  Are they a good or bad influence? 

Homework - is your child doing his/her homework?  Are they making up excuses for not handing in their homework?  Are they lying about having homework?

Hormones - oh the joy of the puberty age!  Is your child struggling with hormonal changes?  
Is your child nervous about having a locker for the first time?  How to remember that darn combination code?  

Is it nerve-wracking for them to be moving from classroom to classroom for subjects, instead of staying with their one teacher who just teaches everything all day?

Has your child mentioned a bully in his/her class or an older grade?  Is there a fear about going to school?  Has your child been threatened by someone at school?

The very best thing a parent can do is listen & watch.  Listen to your child's concerns "What if I can't get my locker open and I miss my bus?"  and watch for behavioral changes "I hate going to gym class now!!" (from a child who loved gym before), does your child suddenly not speak to a friend that they've been friends with for a long time?  Reading between the lines of your child's statements may be a great indication as to what's going on.  Also, there is no shame in getting in touch with your child's teachers if there is something you need to discuss ie: homework, behavior in class, etc.

Another thing that parents can do for their kids, is to make sure they stay healthy during the school year.  Getting eyes tested, vitamins taken, and regular dental check ups are a key to a successful school year - but what about their mental health as well?  Ensuring that you take time each week to talk about school, friends, groups of kids, etc.  Watching for signs of depression, stress, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide can be overwhelming as a parent, but you know your child better than anyone.  Having healthy meals (breakfast, lunch & dinner) are very supportive in mental health as well.

As embarrassing as it may be as a parent to talk to your child about sex, this is the time in their lives where they will be learning about it at school, and from their peers, and they are dealing with puberty.  Your child will be embarrassed to be talking about it with you as well (as we all were growing up) but, hey, if we couldn't embarrass our own child, who can we embarrass?  :)  In all seriousness, the age of those participating in sexual activity is dropping, and better safe than sorry with having the discussion about safe sex early on. Deep breaths, it's going to be okay.

Encourage your child to live their school life to the fullest - play spots, swing on swings, take on yearbook or art classes, run track, join clubs.  School isn't just about learning from books, it's about learning who you are!  

Anyone needing support during the school year - students, parents, teachers, faculty, bus drivers - can call and speak to one our volunteer crisis line specialists, in confidence, 24 hours a day.  Simply call 613-238-3311.  

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