What does a middle school child need for well-being? Middle school kids need the same three things everyone else does:
Relatedness: Middle school kids need to have close family relationships. In addition, they need to learn how tell who their real friends are. Competency: Middle school kids need to develop many skills. They need to believe they CAN succeed. Middle school kids need to continue develop ability to love, impulse control and moral reasoning. Autonomy: Middle schoolers need autonomy. The right amount of autonomy allows a middle schooler to be who he is, as a unique growing person.
What skills does a middle schooler need to master? Middle School kids need to practice having a balance in their lives. At puberty the sex hormones begin to motivate a person to focus on sex and social status. An excessive focus on these at the expense of competency undermines well-being. For parenting advice and details on developing your Middle schooler's competency see: The Child Well-Being Workbook.
How do I know how much autonomy to give my middle schooler? Knowing how much autonomy to give your middle schooler depends on a parenting skill called responsivenss.
What can I do to make sure my middle schooler fully develops his Ability to Love, Impulse Control and Moral Reasoning? Middle school is a critical time for learning to love. The positive effects of good early family ties can be wiped out during middle and high school if the child does not continue to develop his Ability to Love. With puberty comes drives and emotions a young person has never had to deal with before. Middle school is therefore a critical time for developing impulse control. With pubrty also comes increased ability to consider moral questions and to enhance moral reasoning. Ability to love, impulse control and moral reasoning are necessary for good character. These three abilities also protect against (or prevent) ADHD, addiction and Antisocial behavior. For parenting advice and details on being your middle school child's friendship coach and teaching your child to love: Just Like His Father?
Responsiveness means being sensitive to your child's needs and desires both expressed and unexpressed. Responsiveness depends on empathy. Empathy is part of a parent's Ability to Love. Many things in our lives decrease our Ability to Love and parent our children. To learn how to maximize your own Responsiveness and Ability to Love see The Parent's Well-Being Workbook.