Parents, as well as students, go through an adjustment period when children move from elementary school into middle school, where many students from different schools may come together to form new friendships. This and practical issues, such as homework, become new challenges.
Q: I keep telling my sixth-grade daughter not to hang out with the crowd of girls I don’t approve of. She seems to understand me when we’re home, but once she’s at school or at a school social gathering, my advice is out the window and she’s with them once again. Should I do something?
A: Keep making your wishes known to her. She hears you, but the social pressure once she’s out of your sight is what’s most on her mind in that moment.
Middle-schoolers are in-the-moment thinkers. At school, she may gravitate toward these particular girls because they offer excitement or social status.
Examine your own beliefs about this peer group. Discuss with your daughter the reasons behind your advice to seek out other friends. You can control her interactions with them outside of school, as it’s not possible inside of school.
As she moves through middle school, your advice will begin to permeate her thoughts and direct her actions. Above all, do not be discouraged. Keep communicating your feelings to your daughter and encourage the same from her.
Q: Whenever I ask my son if he’s done his homework, he says yes, and then I find out that he hasn’t done it when I hear from his teachers. I never had this problem in elementary school. I’m so frustrated. Help!
A: This is not uncommon for a middle-schooler, and he’s not the only one. Demands amp up quite a bit from elementary school to middle school, and your son may be having trouble handling the increased load.
There are several things to consider. Is he organized? You only need to look at his book bag to answer this question. Does he have an assignment notebook and is he using it?
Do the teachers in your school use a Parent Portal and/or have teacher websites with nightly homework? Do the teachers have extra help time before or after school? Does your son have a structured time in plain view at home (not in his bedroom), where it’s expected that he complete homework? Do you have a rewards and consequences system in place?
Many parents feel that they should let up once their child is in middle school. Your son still needs you to be checking up on him and creating clear expectations. Your school counselor can act as an excellent resource to help your son get back on track in collaboration with you and his teachers.
Anne-Marie Hughes is a local middle school guidance counselor. Send questions to Ask The Counselor to firstname.lastname@example.org.