Middle School is hard!
It just is. Between the changes in friendships, developmental differences, raging hormones, and spiritual maturity, life is a struggle. It’s a constant barrage of questions all leading back to one….am I valuable? Our job as a school is to partner with parents on this journey to encourage your child.
I have a few practical suggestions for how to encourage your children while they are going through this time of tremendous growth and change.
- Let them know it is okay to make mistakes. Everyone messes up. All of us, including parents and teachers! Children need to give themselves a break. As we teach them to be gracious to others, why not encourage them to give grace to themselves? As parents and teachers, it’s our responsibility to hand down this important message to them. Though it may be painful, we learn the most from our failures.
- Teach them to apologize if they have hurt someone and move on. Likewise, they need to extend forgiveness and move on, but the lesson of forgiveness takes a lot of conversation at times at this age….well, at any age.
- Let your child know it’s okay if their teeth are growing in weird places and they don’t have braces yet; just make sure they are brushed, and smile! It is important that our children are aware when all other things fade, when the things of this world affect our self-worth, the core of who we are is this: We are Image Bearers of the MOST High God!! The Bible teaches us that we are made in His image, and He loves us to the point of sending His son to the cross for our salvation. It doesn’t matter what others say or what accomplishments we have achieved….we are HIS!!! If your children are struggling with that truth, remind them through praying and reading God’s word together.
- Plan your week together with your kids, so they have awareness to what is going on, and they may even learn a little about time management, and using their planner, in the process. Though it is difficult for our children to sacrifice their time playing sports and playing with friends with a stronger commitment to their school work, it is well worth the extra effort. Their confidence will grow when they have done their homework and know they have given their best effort.
- Remind your children that there is always someone, somewhere, who may not only be struggling, but who could be dealing with a more challenging situation than our own. Often when we think about others, our own problems become lessened. It’s important that we teach our children not to stop there, but to then think: How can we be of service to others? Focusing on others is what our Heavenly Father suggests. (Luke 6:31)
- Pray often with your children and allow them to pray as well. Let them see your faith and how it’s bigger than any problem. They will ultimately feed off of your faith until they discover their own. Remind them how prayer is our communication with God, and it doesn’t need to follow a certain format. It’s a conversation with our Heavenly Father. Pray with them for family and friends, and encourage them to pray for help, direction, but also, to thank Him for all that He has already done. Talk about how God hears our prayers and it changes us as much as the situation we’re struggling with. Read Psalms 117 and 118 together out loud as a reminder of who HE is.