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As we have discussed previously in “How Does the Brain Work During Middle School,” the middle school brain is undergoing massive changes. This means that growth spurts, rapid mood changes, and a sudden craving for new freedoms is a natural and inevitable part of your middle schooler’s daily experience. While some of these changes are exciting - boosting your child’s interests in the outside world - they can also result in depressive mood swings and low confidence generally. What does this mean for you as a parent? How can you help build your child’s confidence in middle school?
Let’s find out!
Studies have shown that a strong correlation exists in the brain between encouragement and motivation. Given the self-consciousness that appears in middle school as a result of students entering puberty, positive affirmations can be the anecdote! As academics become more difficult in middle school, some students may start to feel worthless if they are not performing up to expectations. However, the more encouragement and support they get, the more likely they will develop an attitude of grit and perseverance to tackle challenges ahead. When a child feels validated by their parents, teachers, and peers, the notion of trying something and failing is less scary. By building up your child’s confidence, they will have more resilience to face challenges in life.
Send your child to school with a positive, affirmative message on a daily basis. If you do not see them in the morning, try leaving a note in their lunchbox or a text (depending on school cell phone policy!). Make sure your child feels supported, as students who feel lonely are less likely to put an effort into new things, whether it is tackling that algebra problem or trying out for the basketball team. If your child seems shy, discuss how maintaining a positive attitude can help and that the school system is there to support them in their growth. Helping your child see the silver lining in every cloud will give them the power to keep going when life throws challenges their way.
As your child grows older, their academic demands will increase and as such, teaching them ways to be organized will go a long way in reducing their stress levels. Without the homeroom-structure of elementary school, middle schoolers are often left to fend for themselves in terms of organization, and this can be a big adjustment. From helping your child label their notebooks to drawing up a daily, visual schedule, implementing concrete organization skills can go long way to ensure success. At Crimson Rise, our strategists aid students in organization by teaching them time management, study habits, and revision techniques.
A big part of leaving elementary school and looking toward high school is uncovering and experimenting with one’s identity. Your student may start to feel self-conscious about their social status and awkward in their ever-changing bodies; for this reason it is natural for middle schoolers to try and experiment with who they are while simultaneously trying to fit into a group. Support your middle schooler by giving them the time and resources to pursue what they are interested in, as this is a healthy outlet for self-expression. Be mindful not to compare to their siblings and classmates, as each child is unique and comes with their own challenges, preferences, personality, and style. Instead of forcing them to fit into a mold shaped by expectations, consider their unique gifts and how they can be used to build confidence and help the world around them.
And there you go! By encouraging your middle schooler to follow their heart, being a positive role model, helping them organize their life, and giving them an outlet to express themselves, you can play a huge role in raising your middle schooler to be a confident young adult.
Your friendly neighbourhood Rise blogger,
Learn more about Crimson Rise’s strategic mentorship, academic support, and extracurricular coaching for young students, and request a free consultation on your child’s journey!