What Can I Do When I Get Frustrated With My Middle School Student?
[Part of the "Q & A for Parents of Middle School Students" series]
As a young person moves into the middle school years, their emotional , physical and mental development, coupled with their emerging independence, often creates conflict between the parent and child. In particular, working through school related issues can be frustrating for parents and students. Remember that your child is not yet fully mature, and you need to be the one in control so you can help them learn to manage their frustration. When you talk about school work, grades, friends or after school activities, remember that they have their own opinions about things. Listening to them is very important, as your child wants to be heard. While you see their inexperience and youth, they are feeling more and more grown up and want to be taken seriously. Here are a few ideas to help alleviate the feelings of frustration for both you and your child and hopefully prevent things from building up into a big explosion.
- Provide opportunities for your child to express his/her feelings. When you have an idea of what emotion they are experiencing, name it (i.e. "you're angry"). Justifying your child's feelings as valid and taking the time to listen can help you both understand each other much better. Weir, K. (2002). A parent's guide to school projects, papers, and presentations. LosAngeles, CA: Mars Publishing.
- Do not work with your child when either of you is emotionally charged. Step aside and let things cool off before you begin working.
- Try your best to let your child make the right decision before jumping in to tell them what to do. If it is their decision, not yours, they will be much more willing to follow through on whatever was decided.
- Avoid a power struggle. At the middle school age, this can be extremely challenging. Allow room for compromise, but ultimately, there are some things for which you need to make the final call.
- If two parents are present, use each other as a form of support system. If only one parent is present, find another trustworthy person to bounce ideas off of regarding the issue. Parents need support, too. Try to find time to talk about your frustrations with other parents who may have the same issues.
Cline, F. & Fay, J. (1992). Parenting teens with love & logic. Colorado Springs, CO: Pinon Press.
Debra Eckerman Pitton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Middle Level Education at Gustaus Adolphus College in St. Peter , MN and consults with school districts across the country on issues of mentoring and middle school education. firstname.lastname@example.org