Erin Hansen’s book, “The Motivated Middle Schooler,” focuses on helping parents of teenagers and middle schoolers navigate the challenges of this developmental stage. The book takes parents through three stages, including understanding their middle schoolers, how to connect with them, and developing critical family systems.
According to Hansen, middle schoolers have two primary needs: meaningful interactions with adults who are not their parents and an increased need for independence. Parents can support their children by providing stability, talking and listening to them, and respecting their privacy. Hansen emphasizes the importance of understanding that what is driving teenagers at this stage is a need, not a want, and parents need to be supportive, loving, and caring to help their children reach back to them.
Parents play a significant role in providing support and stability for their middle schoolers. One of the biggest things that teens want is freedom and trust. . Let them know that as you gain trust with them, they will gain freedom. They’ll be experimenting with self-disclosure, but perhaps it is with you. Parents should be open and available anytime they need you, making them feel loved. Ways to strengthen the connection with your teens include:
- Understand That What’s Driving Them is a Need, Not a Want.
As parents, we always want to be close to our children, but it will be difficult not to take a separation personally at this stage. As children grow, their needs change and our needs for certainty become stronger as we parent them. This is normal and completely okay. Keep being supportive, loving, and caring, and find a way for them to reach you.
- Learn To Listen
Start by getting to know your teen’s interests and social and school life. One of the critical ways of getting them open is to be ready to listen when they are ready to talk. This may be in the car, before bed, or during a time that perhaps isn’t ideal for you as a parent. Be aware of when your child is opening up and attempt to listen without judgment. They will know the minute they are feeling judged and may shut down, so Hansen recommends being quiet and just listen. .
- Respect Their Privacy
One of the biggest things that teens want is freedom and trust. Resist the instance of checking up on them for every little thing. Have a conversation with your teen about building trust and understanding that they want their independence and privacy. . Let them know that you are open to building trust in them and want to give them that freedom. When kids feel that they are not being trusted, they may respond rebelliously. Work to have open communication and try to teach rather than to hover. Parents should always go with their gut or instinct and be aware of signs their child may be in danger.
- Create Time
Once you have learned about their hobbies and interests, try them out with your child. If you show interest in knowing them, they are more likely to take you up on the chance to do something together. This is an excellent chance for bonding and building shared boundaries.In conclusion, “The Motivated Middle Schooler” can help parents understand their child’s behavior, feel more connected to them, and develop critical family systems to support their children during this challenging time in their lives. Parents can successfully navigate this developmental stage with their middle schoolers by providing support, stability, and understanding their child’s needs for independence and meaningful interactions.