My child is starting middle school and I’m nervous. It is such a transition from elementary school and her exposure to the world will be MUCH larger! Any tips for me to calm down? Laura – Sunnyvale, CA
Something that works well is to move the focus off ourselves and focus on our kids. Follow your daughter’s lead. Ask her how she feels about the transition and how you can make it easier for her. Notice her coping mechanisms for anxiety and talk to her about them. You will probably be calmed when you notice that she is absolutely fine and able to handle the change with grace and enthusiasm. Jamee – 40 Something
#1: My first tip: just breathe! It’s going to be ok. Middle School is indeed a larger slice of the real world, but it is still tempered. Most middle school students (including mine!) come home loaded with questions, and it’s a perfect opportunity to coach them how to handle increased academic responsibility, how to navigate social situations and how to deal with budding hormones & relationships.
If you are curious about how the middle school functions, see if you can find a volunteer opportunity. I helped out at a “dance” that turned out to be much more innocent than I expected, and much more joyous. The kids had a blast being kids, and it was wonderful to be a fly on the wall while I watched my son be goofy with his friends.
And don’t forget to trust your daughter: having a way to stick a toe into the Big Kid Pool while you can offer bits of advice is going to mean a lot to her and her self-confidence. Amy C. – 40 Something
First take a big breath! Your daughter is growing up-but just one step at a time. The middle school teachers know this. They usually don’t expect more than the kids can handle. This isn’t college. Your daughter will probably welcome the change of classrooms and routine from elementary school. I think for a lot of us involved mom’s, this transition is harder on us than on them! No longer can we volunteer in the classroom and teach art or help with math. It is harder to help out at school at all. But if you are feeling there is a void there-go ahead and get on the PTA. That way you can see more about what is going on at your school and be better able to relate to your daughter’s experiences. Raising a child is all about changes. Wait a minute and everything will change. Learn to go with the flow or the flow will carry you away. Ann Glaser – 50 Something
Realize the transition happens slowly on a daily basis. When we think about two to three years of rapid change all at once we freak out! But you can handle each day as it unfolds: that is manageable and not as scary as the entirety of the middle school years. Most things are do-able when they are broken down into bite-size chunks, and if you are a mom, then you’re already an expert at this!
The more unknown something is, the larger the fear. If you can, join PTA. Some PTAs host discussions on topics like healthy self-image, friendships, bullying, and online safety. You are not alone, so get to know other parents dealing with the transition and share your worries. This will give you some perspective and peace of mind.
Also, have their friends over. We have all shipped them off to someone else’s house for a much needed break (guilty as charged!), but if you can host the sleep-over, or be part of the carpool, you will learn what is happening simply by listening to the conversations. That could lead to opportunities for deeper-one-on-ones. Yes, being the host mom is exhausting, but the effort is worth knowing how your daughter is navigating her new world and how you can support and be a part of it. Maria – 50 Something
I will give you the answer my wise family doctor gave to me many years ago when I expressed the same concerns. He said that the parenting he had seen me set in place would help to carry my three daughters through the transitions in their lives and allow them to be able to make well-informed decisions as they grew to adulthood. However, he cautioned me that the teenage years were characterized by a natural striving for independence, and that they must make their own mistakes, celebrate their own successes, and determine their own future with much less influence from me than in their earlier years. I would add, in retrospect, that it will be important for you to listen patiently to your daughter, encouraging but not demanding information, when she wants to share experiences and that she understands you will always be there to support her. Children today have a much wider world exposure and are much more sophisticated than past generations and I think you will find she will do just fine! Marge – 70 Something