For Parents

Ten Tips for Supporting Your Middle Grade and Middle School Child

In a recent survey conducted by NBC, teens said that they valued their parents and wanted positive relationships with them.

1. Be a Good Listener. Take the time to listen to and process what you child says. Try not to react or overreact immediately. Explain that you will think about an issue and discuss it later. This gives you time to calm down and reflect on the issue. Delay is a great strategy; time puts issues into their proper perspective.

2. Have Meaningful Conversations. Show a sincere interest in what your child does, thinks, in his/her friendships, and interests. Meaningful conversations send the powerful message that you care, and you want to share ideas, thoughts, and feelings. This takes time. You can talk over breakfast or dinner, by working out in a gym together once a week, by taking a walk or jog together, by sharing a chore such as gardening, cleaning out closets, cooking, or painting your child’s room.

3. Build Responsibility Within Your Child. Work with your child to develop responsible behavior and the desire to complete home chores, school work, or coming home on time. Try to offer responsible choices such as explaining that your child can be late, but it’s helpful to let you know because of your schedule needs. Ask your child how he or she can communicate a change in schedule to you? Placing the responsibility on your child shows that you trust and respect him/her.

4. Avoid Using Force and Look for the Positives. It’s possible to use punishments and threats to force your child to do homework, to behave, to communicate changes in his/her schedule. Not using force and threats asks your child to be responsible and results in positive behaviors that lead to mature decisions when you’re not around. Why? Your child learns to sort choices and to make beneficial decisions independently instead of depending on force and directive parent action. When your child makes a great choice, be positive and recognize the behavior. Avoid giving money and things as rewards. Positive language and making a terrific choice are rewards in themselves.

5. Develop the Ability to Make Responsible Choices Within Your Child. When you take the time to listen to your child and process what he/she says instead of letting your feelings take over, you have a better chance of starting to negotiate responsible choices. Start by asking your child, “What other choices do you have?” Which one would you choose the next time? How can you repair or change what’s happened?’ By putting the choice on your child, you start the negotiating process. Explain what you might have done and why. But remember, if you listen and negotiate, accept your child’s choice even though it might not have been your own. Keep in mind that you are the adult who can make beneficial choices. It’s your job to help your child develop the process that leads to responsible choices. Hopefully, your child will use this process when he/she is outside the home.

6. Support Your Child’s School Work. Encourage your child to find a comfortable place to complete homework. It might be on the kitchen or dining room table with you close by or the child might prefer his room. Trust that your child has completed his/her work until you hear otherwise from the school. Avoid anger and yelling if you do receive that telephone call from school. Ask you child, “How can I hep you? How can your school help you?” Children are honest when they feel trust instead of threats. Use what your child says to support him/her.

7. Ask the School for Support. Most schools have support systems for students. Sometimes there is before or after school tutoring available. Middle and high schools often host after school tutorials in specific subjects. Find out about these and encourage your child to take advantage of support that can improve learning. Talk to your child’s teachers. If your child is in grade 8 through 12, encourage him/her to speak to the teacher. You might role play this type of request with your child–you be the teacher–until he/she feels comfortable doing the asking.

8. Welcome Your Child’s Friends. Encourage your child to bring friends to your house. You don’t need a fancy basement or large space to host friends. You do need a warm and welcoming setting. If your child is in a band, invite them to rehearse at your house. Support friends, but give them space to enjoy each other’s company. You can offer to drive and pick up a group who are going to a movie, a school dance, or a sports event. Showing interest and support can help keep the lines of communication open.

9. Spend Time With Your Child. There are many ways to spend time with a young teen without appearing as if you are intruding in his/her life. Attend sports events, plays, or programs that involve your child and cheer and offer positive strokes. Help your child plan and host a party. Take your child to a special event, such as a rock concert or a professional or local softball, baseball, or soccer game. Watch sports or a movie on television. In other words, find things that your child enjoys (these might not be your cup of tea) and share these events.

10. Show Interest. Surf the Internet with your child, play a video game together, support his/her hobbies and activities. Surprise your child with a book, magazine, or video game that taps into his/her interests. Your child will let you know if you’re being over exuberant or providing just the right amount of support. Listen carefully. When you become a meaningful and important part of your
child’s life and your child will communicate with you. And that’s what you want.


This fantastic site features Sonja Cole, a school librarian, doing book talks on her favorite picks. You can search the site by subject and author. Ms. Cole only recommends books that she has read. You can watch her as she book talks and makes kids want to grab a book off the library shelf and read it!

  • Parents can watch these review with their children.
  • Teachers can let students watch one or more reviews on a Smartboard or a computer.
  • Simply Google Bookwink. You can join by sending you e-mail or just log on and watch and listen.
  • You’ll have a great time with Sonja Cole!