Transition to Middle School
By Georgia Smith-Lyle, MA, LPC-S
Competence is a very important character quality your child will need developed for their transition from elementary school to middle school. Children’s main focus during this transition period is school, sports, or any activity they are passionate at succeeding. Neighbors, friends, and school will be their main relationship focus. Don’t be taken off guard if now your child seems to be more focused on their friends and school activities, sports, etc., more than “family” life.
Although family life and the consistency and security of home life will always be their anchor point of reference (which is vital to their emotional security), they will begin to shift their attention to the world outside of the realm of home life. This is a natural transition psychosocial development. They will learn healthy boundaries with friends, more about conflict resolution, confidence and determination. Instilling in your child competence during elementary years will help their transition into middle school easier.
This time period in a child’s life can be an extremely anxious period. Provide plenty of avenues and activities for them to succeed, building the character quality of competence. Demonstrate in your home how to effectively communicate, listen to one another and resolve conflict so that outside of the home they will be able to respond in healthy ways to teachers, friends, coaches, etc. Children who feel inferior to others will struggle emotionally, hindering them from being industrious.
Transition into middle school can be a success and smooth when an internal belief they are competent to do anything they put their mind to do has been instilled in them. This is not the same as a cocky, arrogant attitude. A healthy respect for people and their abilities is important. Some children are more competitive than others, but should always be encouraged with healthy teamwork and acceptance of those who are better at some things than they are. Children will learn their strengths and weaknesses. Middle school will teach them to celebrate their strengths and encourage them to improve in their weak areas. If they feel competent, they will better meet the challenges. If they feel inferior, they will stumble through and may even give up.
Positive affirmation in the elementary years of children’s development is vital. Every child is gifted in so many ways. Middle school is an unveiling of more of their gifts, strengths and weaknesses. As parents, coaches, mentors, teachers, it is important to encourage them in every aspect of their lives. They will compare themselves to others and long for acceptance. Remember helping them feel and be competent will make this transition much smoother. A happy child makes a happy parent. A happy parent makes a happy home life. Perfection is not the goal…but joy and success in whatever your child sets their mind to do, remembering to not give up. Failure is only failure if you refuse to get up and try again! Sometimes, timing is crucial of when to try something new and acceptance of certain activities not being best suited for them is the best decision. They will find out more about themselves and you will have the opportunity to guide them through the transition to middle school and self-discovery.
I hope this school year will bring out the best in your middle schooler as they will grow and learn more about themselves. The joy you will experience watching them develop will be extremely rewarding and create many lasting memories!
Georgia Smith, MA, LPC-S is in private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas providing counseling for children, adolescents, adults, and marriage and family. She is also an author of two books and a public speaker. Georgia may be reached at 469-855-0256 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org. www.counselingbygeorgia.com.