8 Tips to Help Your Child Transition to Middle School

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This article has been written by Evangelical Christian School. ECS is a private, Christian school for 2K-12th grade located in Germantown and Cordova.

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The natural transition from child into teenager is unchartered territory for many parents, which can create uncertainty and even fear. As a middle school teacher whose own sons are in this phase of life, I have consulted some of my teaching colleagues, other trusted parents, and former students for wise parenting advice. Together, we have compiled a list of 8 tips for parents to help their children navigate this transition through adolescence.

Don’t be afraid of failure.

Middle School is a great time and place to fail. It seems counterintuitive of what we want for our kids, but the consequences of failing are not as great in middle school as in high school. It should be a time in which the parents are pulling off and letting their student navigate through conflict and tension. It is such an opportunity for them to grow. Independence builds confidence. Don’t remove the speed bumps because it prevents that head-on collision down the road. We want to prepare the road for our child, but we need to prepare the child for the road. It can be painful. It requires us as parents to have a posture of surrender to the Lord and not control, which is hard. Let them mess up because it helps them learn.

Show and tell them that your love for them is unconditional.

At this age, kids are insecure. Take every chance to let them know that your love for them is not tied to their performance. So often we want to mold our kids into the image that we see fit instead of the image of Christ. Truly understanding that the Lord is in control helps us to adopt a heart posture of surrender. It may mean that your child doesn’t make the Principal’s List, or he may strike out 10 times in a row. It is crucial to demonstrate this message to your child in word and deed: “There is nothing you can do or say that will ever make me stop loving you.”

Listen to them without judgment.

In middle school, teenagers will hear things, see things and be exposed to things of which we may not approve. While we are certainly called to teach them biblical values, our tendency too often as parents is to quickly show them our disapproval and launch into sharing only our views. Instead, try to respond to this phase by asking questions while avoiding judgment. Ask, “What did you think of that and why?” That puts the ball in their court, fosters their voice and gets to their heart, which is the goal. Oftentimes, I cringe to think the missed opportunities because I’m too busy sharing my viewpoint on the matter. We want to offer a safe place for them to share what they think. I have been overwhelmed at how very observant and insightful teenagers are when given the time and space to speak into issues.

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Be comfortable responding with “I don’t know,” and “I’m sorry.”

Humility is important in parenting teenagers. You won’t know all of the answers, and teens appreciate honesty and transparency. There is nothing wrong with a parent saying, “I don’t know what to do about this. I’m going to think about it and pray about it.” That models for your child to pray and seek answers when they don’t know the answers now and ten years down the road. Also, it is important for parents to apologize. We are going to mess up. It’s okay to let them know that we are new at this too. Long term, you want your kids to realize you are dependent on the Lord to help show you what to do. If they think you are a good parent on your own, that sets up a daunting and unattainable goal which can lead to an unnecessary feeling of failure for them in the future.

Teach your teens to advocate for themselves.

Every opportunity your children have to advocate for themselves builds confidence. If there is a misunderstanding, encourage your children to approach or email their teacher about it. Well intentioned parents sometimes steal those opportunities from their kids. Put the ball in your children’s court as often as you can. This allows your children to take ownership of their own learning and teaches them how to advocate for themselves as adults.

Encourage them to own their actions.

Encourage your children to take ownership for their part in a discipline situation. Instead of defending that sin, drag it out in the light. Remember that the goal is not for our children to be perfect but for them to understand what they did wrong and take responsibility for it. As parents, we need to teach and model the habit of examining ourselves in hopes that they will follow suit. Some are so scared of getting in trouble. For those rule-followers, it is important for them to realize that they can mess up, experience consequences and survive.

middle school girl

Learn sound advice from a good book.

Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp is a great resource for these years, and I can’t recommend it enough. In it, he says as we parent teens, we have to examine our own hearts and idols. We need to constantly ask ourselves What am I worshipping here? What am I communicating to my child is most important? The goal is not to conform them into our own image but for them to be conformed into the image of Christ. If we are honest, those images often don’t line up. This book helped me as a teacher and a parent.

Remember: You were chosen to parent your children.

God could have chosen anyone to parent your child, and He chose you. Find peace in the fact that God strategically chose you. Remember also that our children don’t belong to us. There is a force greater that cares more about them than we do. Understanding that tends to help with perspective. We can get so defeated as parents, which sends us down the road to parent out of fear. Parent out of surrender to the Lord rather than out of fear. Even when we react poorly, Jesus knew we were going to do that. And He still chose us. None of us are up for this monumental task on our own; BUT, the Lord equips us and we can trust Him.

 

ECS school series

At ECS, we are committed to Partnering with Parents to Build Students for Life. Our academic approach fosters critical thinking, group collaboration and experiential learning, and engaging students to become owners in their learning so they are well prepared for college. We also understand that education is about more than just college preparation; it is about being well equipped for life. That is why all ECS students are known, loved, and discipled to become Christ-following influential leaders in their homes, churches, careers, and communities. Learn how ECS may be a good fit for your family.

Contact us at Admissions@ecseagles.com
901-754-7217 | ecseagles.com
Germantown Campus (K2-5th grades): 1920 Forest Hill-Irene Road in Germantown
Shelby Farms Campus (6th-12th grades; adding K2-5th grades in ’23-’24): 7600 Macon Road in Cordova

About the Author

McKenzie_H author

McKenzie Hendricks is a Middle School History teacher at Evangelical Christian School in Memphis. She is married to Nathe and they have three sons, two of whom are in middle school.

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