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What's your best parenting advice for middle schoolers? (10/11-13/14)?


umsami
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Thought I'd start a few different threads like this as I've gotten such good advice from the Hive.

I have a bunch in this age range, so right now the best advice I have is to have time alone with them....just sit with them, go for a walk, etc...and let them talk.  They share a lot. 

 

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1. Extra snacks
2. Extra exercise
3. Make sure they have time to sleep

I'm firmly in the remember that their brains are like toddler brains camp. They really are, in terms of growth. But you also can't treat them like toddlers. They need lots of challenges too - but not "more" bulk of work. And they're often not ready to do the sort of executive functioning that schools require of them - tons of classes, tons of different assignments and teachers, etc. But they do need a lot of deep thinking and big questions. I think we sometimes confuse the two things - quantity of work/organization of work with quality of work - and then come out complaining that kids are too immature or "not good enough" when in reality they still need hand holding in unexpected ways but also need lots of challenges in other ways.

I could go on. I mean, obviously. I have so many thoughts about this, I wrote a book.

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11 minutes ago, Farrar said:

1. Extra snacks
2. Extra exercise
3. Make sure they have time to sleep

I'm firmly in the remember that their brains are like toddler brains camp. They really are, in terms of growth. But you also can't treat them like toddlers. They need lots of challenges too - but not "more" bulk of work. And they're often not ready to do the sort of executive functioning that schools require of them - tons of classes, tons of different assignments and teachers, etc. But they do need a lot of deep thinking and big questions. I think we sometimes confuse the two things - quantity of work/organization of work with quality of work - and then come out complaining that kids are too immature or "not good enough" when in reality they still need hand holding in unexpected ways but also need lots of challenges in other ways.

I could go on. I mean, obviously. I have so many thoughts about this, I wrote a book.

I missed your book announcement.  Just went and bought it on Amazon. :)

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I always thought I was a little kid person.  I mean, I ADORE babies and toddlers.  I'm really, really, really good with them.  But I've discovered I adore middle schoolers.  They're just so cool and funny and you can have real conversations with them, and they're genuinely useful and just....it doesn't even feel like parenting so much as like living with really rather pleasant, funny roommates that I have to drive around and who eat all my food and I have to nag about hygiene occasionally.  Which I guess would make them lousy roommates, but maybe I'm just so relieved not to be wiping bottoms and mostly sleeping through the night that every day feels rather like Christmas.  Their jokes are actually FUNNY now!  

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Survive and advance.

This too shall pass. Don’t let the difficulty of this time destroy your relationship. They will come out on the other side and you want your relationship intact. 

Hold firm on limits about TV, social media, whatever is important to you even if none of the other parents are. They are still young and not as mature as many people see them. They will be more discerning in a few years if you can hold off and not get sucked in during this time.

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Quote

DO NOT be afraid to tell them no. Their life will not be ruined. Don't worry about what other moms are letting their kids do. Always do what YOU feel is best for them.

 

On the flip side - don't be afraid to tell them yes, even if none of the other moms let them. If you think your kid is ready to take the city bus to dance class or walk to school alone or get a small petsitting job with a neighbor - great!

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I have found that it was really helpful to my boys to explain that it's not that everyone else is suddenly horribly irritating and trying to annoy them. It's that the hormones that make them grow -and the growing itself- makes them more irritable and sensitive. They were really unaware of that. Knowing it was actually them helped them to take better care of themselves, be kinder and more forgiving to their siblings, and to have a bit more perspective. 

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2 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

Don't take it personally. Just like toddlers, if they're in a mood and you can't figure out the trigger then it probably means nothing more than that they need a nap and a snack.


LOL but so true.  The parents I know who seem to have to most trouble take every bad mood or eye roll as a personal affront and the ultimate disrespect.   Learn to let the small things go because otherwise it will just be a constant battleground.

3 hours ago, umsami said:

Thought I'd start a few different threads like this as I've gotten such good advice from the Hive.

I have a bunch in this age range, so right now the best advice I have is to have time alone with them....just sit with them, go for a walk, etc...and let them talk.  They share a lot. 

 

This is a good one.  Mine also need time alone, away from people.  And lots of warning if they will be expected to be somewhere, go somewhere or do something.

Just now, Desert Strawberry said:

I have found that it was really helpful to my boys to explain that it's not that everyone else is suddenly horribly irritating and trying to annoy them. It's that the hormones that make them grow -and the growing itself- makes them more irritable and sensitive. They were really unaware of that. Knowing it was actually them helped them to take better care of themselves, be kinder and more forgiving to their siblings, and to have a bit more perspective. 

 

My Aspie son finds comfort in knowing that the weird ways he is feeling have an actual reason.   He says it makes the moods much easier to just get through.

 

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I so agree about the instructions. You have to go back to the 1 to 2 steps at a time and explain. 

When they come into your bedroom and want to talk at 10pm and you're ready to go to bed, stop and listen and talk. You will find out who they really are, what their fears and dreams are. Then when they're 20, they'll still trust you to listen and ask for advice. 

Let them sleep. 

Teach them how to manage money now, if not before this age. Everyone needs to experience that regret of purchase, the temptation of consumerism is strong. Teach them about tax and saving for a long term object. 

 

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When there are things that you need to say "no" about, make sure that there are other opportunities to say "yes' to.  Make sure that they don't feel that the only options are going to the really cool party or staying home and moping.  Help them learn to come up with an alternative option to those tempting, but poor choice, options.

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29 minutes ago, peacelovehomeschooling said:

Please tell me how to find this book!!!  I had no idea!  Also, since I don't know your name I will never find it on my own.  Feel free to pm me.

 

28 minutes ago, peacelovehomeschooling said:

I didn't know either!  I just begged her to send me the info, I really want it.  I don't know her name so I will never find it on my own.  I hope she will give me the info so I can read it.

 

There is a link in her signature block.

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Aw, thanks, y'all. I didn't want to use the forum to over-promote, for obvious reasons. But I had fun talking about it as SEA and I feel okay about it. (Warning... despite the copy editor, I found a couple of typos! I know you guys are the kind to care!)

Middle schoolers are the best. They're walking balls of contradiction. For some reason, that absolutely appeals to me.

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I have a 13 yo girl and as many people know 13 yo girls can be.... difficult. One challenge I’m giving myself to work on MY OWN ATTITUDE is to thank God for this child every time I see her. It’s not just thank you for my kid. It’s thank you for her sense of humor, work ethic, spunk... specific things I love about her. I’m hoping that mental shift will improve the dynamic around here. 

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I’m actually somewhat enjoying the teen years. Yes, they are trying and difficult at times, but they’re so interesting and fun to talk to. Agree with others.....snacks, exercise, sleep, age-appropriate boundaries. I also give ‘rewinds’ for attitude or snarkiness that usually works. When I don’t like their tone or something they’ve said, I ask if they’d like to rewind and try it again. Works well with my dc, and defuses their defensivess. Also, be willing to stay up and talk....for some reason they become very talkative after 10 pm. I still remember my mom and I staying up drinking tea and talking late at night when I was a teen.?

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Be willing to get "into" one of their interests. My DD13 and I probably have our best conversations while out playing Pokemon Go. And when she's worried, nervous, or just plain stressed, sending her out to POkemon for awhile helps a lot-because she often walks 5+ miles in a single session, and the exercise makes it better. Personally, I could take or leave it, but she loves it. Same with driving places. I dislike all the driving I'm doing, but in the car, when I can't turn to face her and look right at her, she finds it easier to talk. Outside adults. At this point, I think I'm paying for piano and tumbling more so that DD has those other adults she talks to than for the actual activity.

I also added "didn't make snarky comment" and "Said something positive" to MY habitica board-because it is really easy to react with a bad attitude to her attitude issues. Since I've been actively trying to focus on that, she's been more positive most of the time. I've also realized that a lot of her negativity comes from anxiety-so when she goes full-on emotional, negative, emo teen, it has a lot to do with something bothering her, and if I can just wait her out without getting baited into an argument, eventually she'll come out with what is REALLY causing the attitude-and it probably isn't the headline in the local newspaper, even though that's what she's angsting about.

 

 

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