Middle-school can be some of the most challenging years for students, teachers…and parents.
Veteran educators Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuńa understand what’s in the mind of a middle school student and have written about their findings in the book Middle School: The Inside Story: What Kids Tell Us, But Don’t Tell You.
Middle schoolers are experiencing many personal challenges, including; internal and external changes, developing their strengths, and taking on more responsibilities at school. Apart from the occasional, ‘nope’ and ‘nothing’s wrong’, there is a lot happening with middle schoolers and they aren’t necessarily going to bring it up in conversation.
Cynthia and Sue explain how bullying in school is not always overt. It’s important to recognize the subtleties such as sly remarks, gossip, or inappropriate mannerisms;
“That’s something for the parents to watch – it may not be this active bullying in a large sense but in the subtle sense it can do sometimes just as much emotional damage” –Cynthia Tobias
Working as a middle school teacher, Sue has also witnessed interactions over the years and gives us the inside scoop on the importance of choosing friends wisely. She talks about how kids will often try to change who they are just to fit in, instead of embracing who God has created them to be.
“Kids look at that group and they want to be part of their group and they’re willing to maybe change themselves…I would say doesn’t work because that’s just not their group of friends and they don’t have anything in common” –Sue Acuńa
Parents have a powerful opportunity to encourage middle school students along their journey of discovering who they really are and fitting in with the right people. Instead of jumping in to solve all of your middle schooler’s problems, parents are encouraged to listen to them with empathy.
“This is the opportunity that you have to really deep in your relationship with your middle schooler and they’re going to need that relationship when they get to high school…no matter how frustrating it seems. Do everything you can to keep a close and deep relationship with a child even when they drive you crazy.” –Cynthia Tobias
Despite the lack of words and occasional awkwardness with your middle schooler, there is an important message that parents need to hear: They still need you!
“That’s the biggest thing that they told us that they don’t tell their parents – is how much they still need their parents” –Sue Acuńa