The pre-teen years of middle school are hard to navigate for both the child and the parents. With puberty taking place, increased expectations in school, more responsibility at home, it can be a whirlwind.
During this time, parents need to pay close attention to the mental health of their children. With so much taking place, it can become a lot for them to handle. Here we compile some essential suggestions regarding middle schoolers and mental health in a guide for parents. Continue reading to find out more.
Pay Attention to Details
Although we can feel like we don’t even know the child in front of us anymore, we do still know their behaviors and mannerisms to an extent. Therefore, we can often tell when something is off. At times, this will mean nothing, perhaps just an off day. However, there are situations in which a change in actions can be a sign of something bigger.
Paying attention to their sleep habits, their social patterns, extreme behaviors, and lack of interest in things they used to enjoy is vital to monitoring our middle schoolers’ mental health.
When components central to their daily lives change drastically, it can be a sign to insert yourself as a parent and determine if any underlying issues are going on in your child.
Build a Bond
Although pre-teens often find themselves pushing their parents away, it is critical to continue to nurture the relationship that you have with them. Doing so will allow them to feel comfortable going to you during times of need.
Building a bond isn’t always an act of kindness; you can do it with a tough-love approach as well. Many children will balk at rules and restrictions but find comfort in the boundaries and expectations.
During a time when things constantly change for them – hormones, friends, school issues – having stability at home can be a comfort instead of a punishment. Open dialogue, unconditional love, and boundaries can go a long way.
Normalize Therapy Check-in’s
It is a typical occurrence to visit our primary physician for a yearly physical, get our teeth cleaned every six months, and visit our eye doctor. However, we do not normalize the practice of seeing a therapist for regular check-ins.
Instilling this practice at a young age can be highly beneficial as they grow older. However, it is still a routine that you can implement in the pre-teen years. Scheduling time every few months or twice a year can allow an outside source to check out your child for any areas of concern.
Therapists have extensive training in asking the right questions and engaging others in conversation. Therefore, the likelihood of your middle schooler participating is high. In addition, this interaction could bring to light issues that you were not aware were taking place.
Teach and Encourage Self-Care
Many adults struggle to incorporate self-care into their daily lives, and the lack of example is visible to our children. However, by displaying appropriate self-care, we are teaching our children to take care of themselves correctly.
Encouraging your child to do something that makes them happy, or to take a mental health day, will go a long way in their understanding of their mental health. In addition, taking these actions will allow them to better handle when things are going in a negative direction and when they need to bring in assistance.
Offer to do an activity together and explain what you do when you feel upset or anxious. Showing vulnerability and transparency will help your middle schooler see that they are not alone in their struggles and that you have the same battles you endure.
The experiences that comprise the pre-teen years and middle school happenings are hard to endure for both the child and their parents. Battling puberty, increased expectations in school, home responsibilities, and ever-changing friends can be a struggle.
It is vitally important for parents to pay close attention to their children’s mental health during these times. However, with so much taking place, it can quickly become overwhelming for them to handle. Above are some critical suggestions regarding middle schoolers and mental health in a guide for parents to help you navigate this difficult time.