16 Moms Reveal What They Wish They Knew Before Their Kid Started Middle School

16 Moms Reveal What They Wish They Knew Before Their Kid Started Middle School
Image: iStock.com/fstop123

kid with backpack heading to school

For most parents, the middle school years are incredibly difficult to navigate. Unlike during the elementary years, in middle school there are real social, physical, and hormonal changes taking place that make these three years a true test of patience. And today kids have to go through all of these changes while being on the Internet!

We asked parents who've already been through the wringer what advice they wish they would have known before their children started middle school, and one thing became very clear: It's an emotional roller coaster for everyone.

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It's normal to feel nervous about helping your child transition into middle-school mode. But here, 17 parents share their best tips, tricks, and advice to help you survive the transition.

  • Mistakes Will Be Made

    stressed tween looking at homework

    "I wish I'd known that my son would suffer from amnesia about homework and school assignments. He often forgot assignments and spent most of the school year trying to figure out his organization system. Paper planner? Online planner? No planner? It felt like teachers were calling or emailing me weekly about assignments he'd failed to turn in. As a parent, I had to learn to offer grace, over grace, over grace, because at the end of the day, he had to learn from these bumps in the road -- and I had to learn that it was okay for him to make mistakes." -- Jennifer C.

  • Puberty Is Really, Really Hard

    Girl shocked

    "I wish I'd know how hard the hormones would hit at the same time. Body changes, pimples, irritability, combined with how vicious kids can be is NOT a good mix!" -- Dahna C.

  • Watch Out for Bullies

    Girl getting bullied by her peers

    "Bullies come in all ages, sizes, and classes. Preparing for hurtful comments and actions with my middle school kid is as important as stranger danger preparation." -- Susan S.

  • Don't Micromanage Your Kid

    Woman stressed on the computer

    "Do not become addicted to the web portal. When kids enter middle school, many parents become obsessed with checking their kids' grades in the web portal, which leads to unhealthy micromanagement. Parents should let middle schoolers take a leadership role and facilitate checking the web portal so open and positive communication about grades and support can be established." -- Kanesha B.

  • The Social Pressure Is Intense

    Girl burying her head in her knees

    "I realized -- after my firstborn entered middle school -- that her suddenly acting out had nothing at all to do with trying to 'fit in.' Instead, it had everything to do with trying 'NOT to stand out.' That realization helped me to help her navigate the ever-changing minefield that is middle school." -- Pamela S.

  • Technology Will Be a Huge Part of Your Life

    Boy playing on a tablet

    "I wish I had known that middle school was a totally different universe. I never imagined that a school-issued iPad, digital textbooks, messaging, FaceTime, and overall technology would take over my son's world. Suddenly I needed to set 'tech' rules for my middle schooler about his school-issued iPad because it wasn't the same as playing on our home computer. His actions on technology could now have a greater impact beyond our household." -- Jennifer C.

  • Your Kid Is Growing Up -- So Take Precautions

    Boy holding his nose

    "Make them wear deodorant ... every single day (and keep a stick in your glove box for the days they forget). Their teachers will thank you." -- Robyn C. 

  • Let Your Kid Know You're There for Them

    Father and daughter looking at a tablet

    "Middle school is an awkward three years for a child! You're not considered a little kid but not grown either. Their bodies change, their friends change. Best advice is give them space, but still check on them. Check phones, messages, all of that! Check out their new group of friends. Make sure they have good guidance! Listen when they want to tell you about their day and remind them: They're stronger than they think, and smarter than they believe!" -- Stacie W.

  • Practice Using a Locker

    Girl opening her locker

    "If they've never used a locker lock before, practice long before the first day of school!" -- Julie E.

  • Make Sure They're Ready to Work

    Boy frustrated on his computer

    "I wish I knew that in middle school the kids were going to have to do all of their schoolwork independently. My son will be entering seventh grade in August. We had a tough time at the start of sixth grade. It took us half the year to get used to the new setup. I think the year would have gone a lot better if we all would've been on the same page and prepared our son for the change." -- Heidi W.

  • It's Too Early to Worry About College

    mom helping teen with school work

    "Don't get caught up in the parenting hype about preparing for high school and college. Many parents miss the magical discoveries that kids learn about themselves as they are gaining more independence. Nurture middle schoolers where they are instead of always projecting into the future." -- Kanesha B.

  • Expect the Unexpected

    Kids talking in a group

    "In middle school, the frontal lobe is not developed. Heck, sometimes it seems like it's not developed for most adults! The frontal lobe is pretty much 'who you are' -- essentially the 'control panel' of your personality. During middle school, life is messy, given all the increased expectations, unknown hormonal changes, and the icing on the cake: social chaos. So don't expect perfection. Expect the perfect roller coaster ride and you won't be disappointed." -- Allison M.

  • Don't Underestimate the Power of Social Media

    Tween girl upset at her phone

    "I wish I would have understood how much technology and social media would impact my sons emotionally." -- Erin W.

  • Don't Be Afraid to Practice Tough Love

    mom with hand on son's shoulder

    "Middle school kids have to start learning independence and how to function in the real world. If they forget something at home, leave it. If they're crossing the line on social media, they don't get to use it anymore. If they're on the phone too much, take it away. They're going to be mad, but oh well. The real world has consequences." -- Melissa P.

  • Get Them Whatever Support They Need

    Mother explaining homework to her child

    "Don't be afraid to ask for help if your child is struggling. Talk to a teacher, a guidance counselor, the principal. They're getting older, but you are still your child's best advocate, and with everything else going on, they need to know you have their back." -- Lisa A.

  • Be Their Rock

    Sad boy looking at his skateboard

    "Your kids are on a roller coaster in middle school; your job is to stay calm on the platform below." -- Elisabeth S.

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