The following post is from Jennifer Burke, a lifelong educator:
Although middle school may seem far away when your children are young, it’s actually just over the horizon!
Time flies and the teen years will be here before you know it. Navigating the challenges of today’s middle school environment is even harder than when we were in school. Social media has intensified the pressure students feel from their peers. The more prepared your children are to deal with the social pressures of these awkward years, the more successfully they will navigate through them.
Insecure adolescents are far more likely to be pressured into questionable activities than confident ones.
Self-Esteem & Peer Pressure
Middle school is filled with the pressure to conform, to be liked, to BE SOMEBODY! Students who know what they’re good at have higher self-esteem and are more likely to push back when pressured to compromise their values.
To determine your children’s strengths, give them a chance to dabble in different areas of interest. Activities are like food: “You won’t know you like it unless you try it.” That means you may invest some time and money in things they end up not liking. But when your child finds something at which they excel, their confidence will grow, as well as the strength to resist the wrong kind of peer pressure.
Discover Their Hidden Talents
Here are some ideas to help you discover your child’s hidden talents:
If your child enjoys sports but doesn’t find much success at the “common” ones, try activities in which they won’t have as much competition in middle school. Archery, golf, tennis, cross country, bike racing, and skate boarding are possibilities.
Classes through the park district are often reasonably priced and can give your child a chance to see if they are interested in:
- Stamp collecting
- Mountain biking
- Cake decorating
- Rowing team
- Graphic design
If your child likes music, consider lessons – if the first instrument isn’t “it,” try another. Your child’s physical makeup may make him more suited to a trumpet than the piano.
Borrow movies from the library that demonstrate different hobbies. See which ones spark an interest.
Confidence to Stand Strong
When your children find their strengths, they will develop the confidence that comes along with being good at something. That self-assurance will help them stand strong in the years to come. This summer would be a great time to start investigating the possibilities!
What plans do you have to help develop your child’s strengths and confidence?
|Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.|