Some tips for parents of middle and high schoolers, especially for families that have experienced domestic violence or abuse.
Children this age should have social skills that allow them to get along well with others, solve problems in peaceful ways, and pay attention to their schoolwork. Middle schoolers are very interested in the outside world and should have some idea about their own interests. Middle schoolers may push boundaries and experiment with risky behavior.
What can you do to help your middle school-age child?
- If your child has had trouble in school and is doing poorly, talk to your child’s teachers. Ask the school for additional support.
- Monitor your child’s social media.
- Afterschool activities can help your child learn new skills and make friends with similar interests.
- Try to have good communication with your middle schooler by listening, without judgment, to what your child says.
- Try to solve problems with your child. Name the problem, and then you and your child can come up with two ways to solve the problem.
- Spend time with your child. Even 10 minutes a day goes a long way to help your relationship with each other.
- Look for community resources to help talk with your child about any concerns you may have.
It is normal for teenagers to be more interested in being with friends than with their families. If children enter the teenage years when they have had a lot of earlier troubles that did not get solved, their problems may now be more serious. That is because they are now old enough to be more on their own and can get into more trouble. They may be likely to challenge authority, and that can lead to difficulties at school. Teenagers also may experiment with risky behaviors. They may become sexually active, try drugs and alcohol, and make unsafe choices.
What can you do to help your teenager?
- Ask for help from school or other professionals when your child is struggling or something happens that is hard to understand.
- Do what you can to keep open communication with your teenager.
- Set time aside to hang out with your teen, even if it’s for a few minutes.
- Help your teen identify things they like to do and things they are good at.
- Help support your teen’s interests.
- Look for community resources to help talk with your child about sex and birth control as well as other concerns. Ask for help from your medical provider to talk with your teen about difficult subjects.
The content of this post was developed in collaboration between Solid Ground’s Broadview program staff with consultant Lenore Rubin, PhD. Lenore is a child psychologist and an expert in helping children and families to thrive after experiencing trauma.
Domestic Violence Help in Seattle/King County
Call 206.299.2500 for Solid Ground’s confidential Domestic Violence shelter services and/or 2.1.1 toll-free at 1.800.621.4636, M-F, 8am-6pm for info about all King County resources.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1.800.799.7233 or TTY 1.800.787.3224
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