One day I was holding my brand new baby at tee ball when I made a statement in passing to a friend, “boy how lucky are you to have an older kiddo to bring your daughter to the bathroom…” My friend replied, “Nope honey, I paid my dues…” I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have come back to that very statement over the years. Yesterday afternoon I needed a break from the noise and the monotony of the day so I sent Lukey (my youngest) outside to play with the older kids. I thought to myself, “man I have arrived.” My moment of silence ended up being a reflection of the last few years. Where in the world did the last couple of years go?
Zachary is my oldest child, an 11 year old, smart, helpful, kind little boy. I’m trying to grasp the idea that in just a few short days he will be starting on a new chapter of his life, Middle School. How in the world do I have a 6th grader? No one tells you when you have kids how fast the time goes by because goodness that 11 years went way too fast. When I looked outside and saw Zach playing with Lukey his 2 year old little brother, I couldn’t help but get emotional… Sometimes it feels like the days drag by and sometimes when I look out the kitchen window and trip waaaaay back… this was one of those moments.
I remember Zach at Luke’s exact age. I’m nervous to be a mom to a Middle Schooler. I’m not ready to deal Middle School issues – attitudes, pimples?, puberty? I hope that I can be a good mom to my Middle Schooler. He’s a good boy. God give me the grace to be all that my little Middle Schooler needs me to be. In the meantime I’ve made a list of 6 ways that I can help ease the transition in to Middle School.
- Prayer – Like any new chapter change can be both very exciting and difficult. It is my prayer that the transition to Middle School is seamless but in the meantime I am praying for a few things in particular. -Protection from peer pressure, good friendships, ability to focus and do well in his studies and self control.
- Set Clear Expectations – If there’s one thing children/adolescents thrive on it’s knowing what exactly is expected of them. Expectations such as limited screen time, homework, grades, extracurriculars and perhaps help around the house/chores.
- Active Listening – It is important to communicate with your child so that he/she will be able to share how things are going in Middle School. By active listening you give your child your full attention and open the doors for asking questions and deeper conversations. Giving your child full attention is important.
- Pay Attention – This may seem pretty self explanatory but these days children really need parents to advocate for them. By paying attention parents notice the things that their child isn’t saying. Pay attention to attitude changes, changes in friends, changes in grades and ask questions.
- Well, 5 + 6 kind of go hand in hand for me – Love Unconditionally + Grace – Adolescence is a time of change. Not only are our children going off to Middle School but their bodies are changing and expectations are becoming harder and harder to meet in terms of home life, school life, extracurriculars, friends, etc. Loving our children unconditionally and extending them grace offers our children the opportunity to step in to their new role and gives them the courage to try. Because they are human they may very well fail but giving them grace and helping them through these transitions is essential.
Being a strong support system behind your adolescents will make the transition from Elementary School to Middle School a little bit easier. Celebrate victories big and small and be sure to share with your child just how proud of him/her you are. Love and encourage your child in their failed and successful accomplishments and encourage them to respect and communicate with you. Probably most important and PRAY. Cover your child in prayer every single day. Pray for everything from self control, to good grades, good friendships to Godly influences, honesty and integrity and the ability to stand up for oneself.
I am sure that this list will evolve as we navigate the challenges of Middle School and beyond. God please give my husband and I the grace and wisdom to navigate life with a Middle Schooler. If you have any thoughts or advice that you’d like to share please comment below. I’d love to hear.