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05 FEB 2022
As students return to the classrooms after remote schooling over the past two years, mental health in middle school is becoming an increasing issue. What can you do as a parent to support your child and ensure they remain on the road to success during difficult times? Let’s have a look.
Crimson Rise’s Top 5 Tips for Supporting Your Middle Schooler’s Mental Health
1) Stay informed – Doing some self-study about the pre-teen years to become a more informed parent is a great idea. We recommend reading “Tweens: What to expect from – and how to survive – your child’s pre-teen years” by Andrea Clifford-Poston. “The Teenage Brain: A neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults” by Frances E. Jensen is also a wonderful resource.
2) Help your child build resilience - While the world is becoming more open about mental health, it is still highly stigmatized in some countries. Watch the way you speak out about things such as anxiety, fear, self-harm, etc. around your children, even if it’s unrelated to them; the way you and your child’s role models and support network talk about these issues will inform how they internalize them. Avoid using phrases such as insane, unstable, or crazy. When your child faces challenges at school, in sports programs, clubs, and/or religious activities, take the time to process what failure means and that it is a natural part of life. It is all a part of the process, and the trick is to not give up. Encourage and celebrate resilience in even the smallest of situations so when times are tough, your child is equipped with the right mindset!
3) Lend your ear, then your voice – Simply put, listening is more important than talking. This is essential. Avoid speaking with comforting but unhelpful phrases such as “When I was in middle school...” or “I know you feel...”. If you are unsure of how to respond, an encouraging nod for your child to continue is often the best choice. Reinforce your child’s courage to speak up by asking questions such as “How long have you been feeling this way?” or “What do you think contributes to this?” instead. Open ended questions are great for getting the truth out. At Crimson Rise, all our student-facing employees are thoroughly trained in how to professionally discuss difficult matters with students and our Student Success Managers know how to deal with things on a local level should escalation to help your child be required.
4) Provide help when needed – Realize that as a parent, you are not a qualified mental health counselor and that getting the support you need for your child can go a long way to get to the root cause of mental health issues. Also be mindful of school counselors, community support services, etc in your network which you should reach out to. Familiarizing yourself with local resources should help expedite the process if / when your child needs professional support.
5) Modeling patience and grace – Remember that mental health issues do not appear in a middle schooler overnight, and that often the process will require assistance from a trained professional. It is natural you may make mistakes in supporting your child on these kinds of issues, but do read up on what the professional who becomes involved tells you about your child and always ensure you can show an attentive ear and genuine concern rather than judgment when listening to your child. It is often difficult for a middle schooler to discuss mental health issues, so ensuring they feel they can be open with you is very important.
By educating yourself, modeling resilience, not creating a negative stigma around mental health, and being a good listener, your child’s chances of navigating the waters of middle school with a positive outlook are much greater and as such, your child has one more tool on their road to success.
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!