During middle school, students deal with more than just learning algebraic equations and tackling the Bunsen burner. There is always the inevitable social drama. Helping middle schoolers learn self-confidence and respect for others can help them deal with drama, both in the classroom and online.
Middle School Drama Basics
From the ages of 10 to 15, students are going through a challenging time in life. In addition to puberty and physical changes, many children are also experiencing emotional changes. They are forming new identifies as they try to establish a personality that is not as dependent on their parents. All these fluctuations are difficult to cope with and students often seek approval from their peers, according to a National Middle School Association research summary. As explained by Culpeper Middle School's Counseling Department, criticism and deflating comments can have a debilitating effect on someone at this sensitive age.
Keep Communication Open
As a parent, focus on keeping communication open with your middle school student. A child may make your attention feel unwanted, but in reality, they need you now more than ever. Thanks to puberty and the onset of self-doubt, confusion and insecurity, your student no longer wants to listen to you talk, as they did when they were younger. To handle this changing dynamic, you can design situations where you listen and your student does the talking. This lets your middle schooler know that they have an outlet to talk when they need it.
Unfortunately, you cannot protect your child from the social drama and taunts of bullies that lurk in middle school hallways, but you can do the next best thing by giving him the tools to handle these negative situations with grace. Instead of telling your child what to do, you need to help him learn how to solve his problems. According to Michelle Icard, founder of Hero’s Pursuit and Athena's Path, providing leadership curriculum for middle school students, topics to focus on include responding soundly when someone says something mean, understanding what his personal values are and how to use them when making a decision and recognizing how another person can control a relationship.
Pay Attention to Social Media
The Internet has transformed middle school drama. Instead of finding solace from drama when they leave school, it now follows students home as students live their lives online, using it to do homework and talk with friends. While it serves as an academic tool, the Internet also is the place where vicious rumors are spread and malicious information is posted, explains clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair. To help a middle school student deal with Internet drama, teach her not to use the Internet to hash out personal conflicts. If she finds herself in the middle of drama, have her sign off to remove herself from the situation, advises Lawrence Cohen, author of two books on children’s friendships, popularity, and social cruelty; he also recommends taking the time to explain to her why she should not forward any online gossip because this only perpetuates the drama.
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