1. Have a Conversation. Begin the dialogue of what school might look like this year.
2. Help Them Get Organized. Being organized can be a challenge, especially for new middle “schoolers.” Keeping track of all their “stuff” can sometimes be upsetting for kids, especially adolescent boys. Help your child develop systems of where to keep, store and process papers and items they need for school.
3. Listen to Your Child. Try not to interrupt and if your child says something that throws you for a loop, step back and give it some space. Tell her that you’ll get back with her and then talk it through with a trusted friend or spouse. Then when the time is right readdress the topic with your child.
4. Attend Parent Night. It’s always a good idea to know what someone is going to expect of your child, but even more important it sends a clear message that you are engaged in their education and invested in their success as a student.
5. Ask Questions. It’s important to check in with your kids. Don’t assume you always know everything they are feeling or doing.
6. Establish Guidelines. Know where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing. It’s important to set rules and guidelines that give them a clear perimeter in which to operate. While they may say they don’t want curfews, they still consider you their safety net.
7. Take Time to Connect. By “setting in stone” regular scheduled family dinners or weekly get-together parents can give the message that family connections are as important as sports activities. Use the time to catch up. This included what’s may not going well. Stressed kids can feel isolated, which can often lead to experimentation with drugs and alcohol. Let you child know you love by putting them first of your calendar.
8. Give Them Independence. Kids are on this time line to become independent and responsible adults. Allow them to flex their “responsibility” muscle to prove they are capable of making decisions that will take them along that path successfully. Start small; let them show they are capable of making good choices. Help them understand that with independence comes responsibility, with responsibility comes independence.
9. Look for Red Flags. Look for unusual behavior. Are they locking themselves in their room? Have they changed their appearance? Are their sleeping patterns different? Seem to have extreme mood swings? These may be warning signs of drug and alcohol use or depression.
10. Let them know you’re always there. Even if things get tough. Being a kid these days isn’t always easy, but knowing that you’ll be there during new transitions such as going back to school can give your child a compass by which to navigate.