Tips for parents of middle school students
Below you will find suggestions for how you can be involved in your child’s career development at this age level. For additional detail, more suggestions, information, and activities, explore other sections of this Web site.
Seventh and eighth grade
Common characteristics you might observe in your middle school child:
- Is undergoing dramatic physical changes
- Is sensitive and has need for approval
- Tries to build a unique identity apart from parents’ influence
- Wants more independence
- Is curious but not ready for planning
- Expresses feelings more openly
Career-related development you can support:
- Demonstrate effective skills in working with others
- Show an appreciation for the similarities and differences among people
- Describe individual skills and aptitudes required to fulfill roles
- Identify strategies for managing personal finances
- Describe skills needed in a variety of occupations
- Demonstrate skills needed to obtain and keep a job
Other ways you can help:
- Discuss your child’s skills, interests, abilities, and goals to help plan for the future.
- Encourage participation in service-oriented activities in the community.
- Help children meet a variety of workers by arranging job observations, field trips or personal interviews.
- Use guided money management and allow your child to make economic choices.
- Allow children to work part-time outside the home.
For tips for sixth graders, see the Tips for parents of elementary children.
Adapted from the American School Counselor Association's article, "Building Your Child's Future Together," at http://www.schoolcounselor.org/content.asp?contentid=226
Also, remember that early adolescence can be a challenging time for your children and you. The U.S. Department of Education’s Helping Your Child series offers these following tips for making it through this important stage:
- Learn as much as you can about early adolescence. Good information can help you make good decisions. Find out what changes you can expect during these years. Learn about what goes on in your child's school.
- Stay involved in your child's life, both inside and outside of school. A positive relationship with a parent or other adult is the best safeguard your child has as he grows and explores. Find new and different ways to stay involved that work well with your child.
- Provide both unconditional love and appropriate limits to help your child thrive and feel safe.
- Talk with your child often about what's most important to her. Include the tough and sensitive subjects. Listen to what she has to say. Connected children are generally happier and do better in school and in life.
- Hold your child to high but realistic standards both in school and in life. Let him know that you expect him to work hard, cooperate with teachers and other students and do his best.
- Show that you value education. Stay in touch with your child's teachers and school officials. Check to see that he gets to school on time, completes homework assignments successfully and is signed up for classes required for college.
- Provide opportunities for your young teen to succeed. Help your child to discover and develop her strengths. Success produces confidence.
- Monitor friendships. Get to know your child's friends and their parents. Talk with him about friends, friendship and about choices he makes when with friends.
- Work with your child to become more aware of the media and how to use it appropriately. Discuss what TV and movies to watch and what computer games to play. Become aware of the music she listens to and the magazines she reads.
- Model good behavior. The best way to raise a child who is loving, decent and respectful is to live the values and behavior you hope he will develop.
- Be alert to major problems, such as drug use, depression or an eating disorder. If the problem is too big to handle alone, get help from some of the many resources available.
- Hang in there when times are tough. Most youngsters weather the bumps of early adolescence successfully and grow into successful adults. You play a major role in making that happen.
You can download the entire booklet,
"Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence,"