The middle school years can be difficult for many students. Not only do students go through immense hormonal changes, but they may also have to deal with immense social pressures, shifting academic expectations, and greater levels of responsibility in all areas of their lives. These years, however, are a great time to start building resilience and providing students with tools that can help them achieve higher levels of confidence. Try these key strategies to help your student through these tumultuous years.
1. Foster a Positive Mindset
Remaining positive in spite of potential challenges and lows can be difficult. Shifting a middle schooler’s mindset, however, can make a big difference. As a family, focus on the positive! Try:
- Looking for the good things that come out of difficult circumstances
- Finding things to look forward to, both on a daily level and on a larger scale
- Encouraging positive interactions
- Reframing negative thoughts and processes, including statements like “I’m not any good at…” or, “I can’t…”
While you shouldn’t brush aside negative feelings and fears when dealing with your middle schooler, you can work with them to shift their overall mindset and create a healthier, more positive view.
2. Cultivate Emotional Intelligence
When your child was a toddler, you may have actively worked to teach them language for their emotions or to teach appropriate responses. Emotional intelligence for middle school students takes that knowledge to a deeper level. Teach middle schoolers to understand their own emotions: not just a vague look at “how they’re feeling,” but also a deeper-level look at what might be driving those emotions. Talk to them about their emotions and how they’re reacting to situations. Also, by discussing those emotions and working through them together, you can cultivate emotional intelligence in a way that builds resilience and confidence.
3. Encourage Problem-Solving Skills
Middle schoolers face a host of new problems and challenges. During these years, they are starting to develop critical thinking skills and learn how to handle issues when they arise. Additionally, work with your middle schooler to foster and teach problem-solving skills.
- Work through scenarios together.
- Encourage your middle schooler to take ownership of their choices, including allowing them to make key decisions.
- Ask questions that help guide your child through the problem-solving process.
- Model effective problem-solving skills when you have issues of your own to deal with.
Learning how to solve problems effectively can make a big difference for middle school students as they take on the challenges ahead of them.
4. Promote Healthy Habits
Healthy habits built in middle school can help carry your child for the rest of their life. Encourage:
- Good sleep habits, including keeping phones out of the bedroom and getting adequate sleep at night.
- Healthy exercise.
- Making healthy food choices and enjoying treats in moderation.
- Getting out in the sun regularly.
Healthy body habits can make a big difference in overall emotional health. By encouraging those habits for your middle schooler now, you can help them build greater resilience through these difficult years.
5. Build a Strong Support Network
Your middle schooler’s world is growing. They have more interactions with peers and adults in a variety of situations: at home, at school, and in their after-school activities. Work with your middle schooler to build a strong support network. Help them connect with other students who share their interests and will support them socially. Connect with adults who can help support them emotionally and offer key advice when they do not feel able to share with you. Encourage family members to take an active role in your child’s life. A strong support network gives students something to fall back on and someone to trust during hard times and ensures that students always have a place to turn.
Building resilience during the middle school years can make a big difference for your student. By working with them to build those skills, you help set your child up for success, not just during middle school, but throughout the rest of their life. At The Tenney School, we work to build emotional resilience in our students as well as provide them with academic support. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and the benefits they can offer your middle schooler.