Tallahassee Middle School Parents,
How do you get your middle schooler to confide in adults?
First, remind yourself you are a great parent and dealing with a middle schooler is supposed to be challenging.
We know kids are aware of challenges at school especially in peer groups; whether they decide to say anything is a completely different story.
Here are some ideas that might help:
KEEP THEIR NAME ANONYMOUS: This is a big one. Social peer pressure and fitting in is a huge deal at this age. The last thing a middle schooler wants, is their peers to know they were “ratted out” for something even if it is in their friend’s best interest.
YOU CANNOT CONTROL HOW OTHERS FEEL OR ACT: We are all accountable for our own actions and feelings. For example, bullying is often the scapegoat for a student’s violent or fatal actions, however there are usually other factors that contributed to their behavior. Bullying might be the “final straw that broke the camel’s back”, but it is rarely the sole cause. Make sure your middle schooler knows you cannot control how others act or feel. You can be supportive and kind to all, but don’t take responsibility for others feeling inadequate or having low self-esteem.
AVOID NEGATIVITY AND GOSSIP: Unfortunately negative thoughts are a lot more powerful than positive ones. They can easily suck you in. Ask your child what is going right, what are they thankful for and remember adversity is part of everyone’s life. Embrace it and learn to push through it. You will be a stronger more successful person for it. Be real with your child and do not try to sugar coat anything. They will respect you for it. Let them see you “own up” to your own mistakes.
DON’T AVOID THEIR QUESTIONS: Often Parents will avoid questions from their middle schoolers regarding topics they do not feel comfortable discussing. You can guess some of the topics that are high on the list… Kids are a lot smarter than adults give them credit for. They know when you are trying to avoid a subject. It won’t take long for them to stop asking you questions and seek other sources. Most likely those other sources are the internet, chat groups and their peers. You can only imagine what type of answers they will get from these sources. Be upfront!
FIND YOUR CHILD A MENTOR: Adults have mentors, why can’t kids? It could be a responsible high school student you know or cousin. No matter how hard we try, sometimes young people open up more to someone who is not an immediate family member or closer to their age.
Remember, there is no “one size fits all” when building relationships. See what works for your family and do not be afraid to try something new.