I knew that somewhere between the beginning of 6th grade and graduating from high school my son would change. I didn’t know that it would happen before he got his first report card in the 6TH GRADE. I mean he is still a good kid and all. It’s just that he seems to think that some how, magically he started living by a different set of rules the day he entered 6th grade. Somehow he thinks that since he is a middle schooler now, that the rules are different for him. Now, he’s not rebelling. He’s not being openly defiant. It’s much more subtle than that.
For instance he used to understand that when he was told to do something he had to do it right away. Now he works with his own agenda. He will do what he is told, but he thinks he can delay it and do it when he wants to. Another thing is that he now thinks that everything is negotiable. Where did this notion come from? I am open to talking about stuff with him, but he must FIRST be obedient, THEN we can talk about it if he thinks he has a better way.
So, what can we do about this?
Well, middle school is a tough time for most people. They are trying to prove that they have grown beyond childhood yet they don’t have the knowledge and discipline that a high schooler has gained. I will not claim to be an expert on this as my first born is only just now starting 6th grade. But, here are some things that I know will help:
- Plan time with him (or her): We are all very busy these days. If we don’t have a plan for spending time with our preteen during this critical transition time, then we will find ourselves looking at a high schooler that we don’t know.
- Keep the lines of communication open: Talk with your preteen. Talk with them about little stuff and big stuff. Talk with them about stuff that is on their mind or stuff that is on your mind. Talk with them about stuff that they are struggling with. Talk with them about stuff that you are struggling with.
- Give them some responsibility: Much of the difficulty of middle school comes from a desire to prove that they are no longer children. Give them opportunities to prove this. Then hold them accountable. I’m not just talking about making them mow the lawn or take out the trash. Gaining chores may be an unfortunate reality of getting a little older, but it is not the kind of independence or responsibility that your preteen is seeking. Chores are good, but look for some other way for them to prove themselves as well.
I’m sure there are many words of wisdom that could be shared. And I am sure that as I work my way through this time with my own son that I will learn a lot and I will share that learning with you. In the mean time I’d love to hear anything that you have learned by going through this transition with your child.