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How to Live with an Adolescent. Parenting Workshop #2 League Academy of Communication Arts Merry L. Cox, Principal. The Roller-Coaster Years: Raising Your Child Through the Maddening Yet Magical Middle School Years. by Charlene C. Giannetti, Margaret Sagarese.

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how to live with an adolescent

How to Live with an Adolescent

Parenting Workshop #2

League Academy of Communication Arts

Merry L. Cox, Principal

the roller coaster years raising your child through the maddening yet magical middle school years
The Roller-Coaster Years: Raising Your Child Through the Maddening Yet Magical Middle School Years

by Charlene C. Giannetti, Margaret Sagarese

getting a view from the ferris wheel
Getting a View from the Ferris Wheel

Imagine for a moment what life is like for children ages 10-15 today…

“The biggest challenge in dealing with this age group is their roller-coaster emotions.”

(Middle School teacher from Washington)


Adolescents today…

  • Yearn for independence, yet are still being

told what to do

  • Eager to voice opinions but have trouble forming coherent arguments
  • Worry about their appearance just when nature is wreaking havoc on their bodies
  • Worry about their school work just when it increases in workload and responsibilities
  • Maintain a hectic schedule with school, sports, and extracurricular activities, when their bodies need more sleep
parents don t be fooled
Parents, Don’t Be Fooled

Do you feel your adolescent child…

  • Needs parents less than younger children?
  • Needs to be left alone to become independent?
  • Cares more about what their peers think than parents?
  • Does not want you in their personal lives?
young adolescents need parents more not less
Young Adolescents need Parents More not Less

Parents, when your child says, “Leave me alone,” take another look…

What your child may be trying to say is,

“I want more privacy than you are giving me now. But don’t go too far. I might need you later.”

strategies discover your past as middlers
Strategies:Discover Your Past as “Middlers”
  • Find a photo of yourself when you were this age
  • Call your parents or siblings. Recall with them what it was like during this age.
  • Play some music or songs popular when you were a Middler.
  • Find your report card from this time period.
are you spending enough time with your middler
Are You Spending Enough Time with Your Middler?

According to a 1995 New York Times Poll:

  • 93% of 9-12 year olds consider being a part of a loving family more important than owning material things
  • 88% credit family as their greatest source of self-esteem
  • 72% wanted to talk more to their parents about schoolwork
middlers are funny
Middlers are Funny…

“My son or daughter fun?

Are we talking about the same kid?”

Middlers are really three children-

  • The one who behaves as your child
  • The one who shares with other adults things they won’t share with you
  • The one who hangs out with other kids
playing mind reader
Playing Mind-Reader


  • Begin to build and exploit their own unique abilities – coming into their own
    • Look for opportunities to relish in their accomplishments
    • This self-discovery may sometimes resemble arrogance, indifference and anger if they fall short of goals
playing mind reader1
Playing Mind-Reader

Great Thinkers

  • Begin to develop sophisticated reasoning
    • Looking for deeper meanings
    • Applies new intellect into problem solving
    • Still may need some help in formulating his arguments, making decisions
playing mind reader2
Playing Mind-Reader


  • Still need and want approval of parents and other adults
  • Desperately seeking adult compliments, smiles, kind words, and respect
  • Don’t want parents to fix their hair and clothes in public
playing mind reader3
Playing Mind-Reader


  • Resemble the freshman congresspeople who come into Washington in a storm following elections to change the world.
playing mind reader4
Playing Mind-Reader


  • Develop their own sense of values.
  • Will catch adults saying one thing and doing another – Gotcha!
playing mind reader5
Playing Mind-Reader

Social Workers

  • Sympathetic and with guidance, begin to see and meet the needs of others
  • Sweet and giving nature that comes out in unexpected ways
playing mind reader6
Playing Mind-Reader


Still look at the world in wide-eyed wonder

  • Caught between childhood and adulthood
  • Try to make sophisticated arguments often with incorrect facts or use words in the wrong context
playing mind reader7
Playing Mind-Reader


Begin to develop a sophisticated

sense of humor

  • Moves past bathroom humor to more sophisticated humor that reflects increased vocabulary
  • Humor can backfire – still trying to figure out the difference between satire and sarcasm
  • Can be too blunt, though not intending to be rude
suggestions for living with a developing middler
Suggestions for living with a developing Middler…

Leave them in charge

Encourage their enthusiasm

Assist them in finding ways to help others

Feed their intellectual growth

Build a bridge from home to school

Ease the transition from childhood to adulthood

Teach correct social behavior

develop the art of adolescent affection
Develop the Art of Adolescent Affection

Find a moment each day to show your middle school child how much you love them.

  • Write notes
  • Leave voice mail
  • Tell them when you see them
  • Give hugs, especially after you have punished them
house of mirrors am i normal
House of MirrorsAm I Normal?
  • When Middlers look in the mirror, they see distorted images
  • Supersensitive about their bodies
  • Increased weight 20-30 pounds-10 pounds a year
  • All parts of the body don’t grow at the same time or rate
  • Feel as though they have been invaded by a body snatcher
  • There is NO Normal!
haunted house
Haunted House

Coping is a challenge for all of us

  • Four traits of happy people
    • Like themselves
    • Sense of personal control over their lives
    • Optimistic
    • Extroverts
  • Middlers are manic depressive en masse
    • up one minute and down the next
haunted house1
Haunted House

Classic Worries of Middlers

  • Social anxiety
  • A parent dying
  • Divorce
  • School
  • Bodily injury
  • The future
  • Gender woes
  • Racial inequality
haunted house2
Haunted House

Warning signs

  • Inability to sleep or too much sleep
  • No interest in friends, school, activities
  • Marked changes
  • Risky behavior business
  • Rebellion directed toward parents or teachers
  • Death or suicide themes
haunted house3
Haunted House

What to do? Unconditional love.

  • Help them like themselves more
  • Nurture them towards positive self-determination
  • Teach your Middler how to acquire control over life – be a stress busting example
  • Steer them towards rewarding relationships
  • Turn your pessimist into an optimist
haunted house4
Haunted House

Help them manage worry

  • 98% of worry is wasted
    • 40% of worry time focuses on things that never happened
    • 15% of fretting wasted on things that turn out better than they expected
    • 35% lost on things that can’t be changed
    • 80% revolves around petty insignificant items
haunted house5
Haunted House

What can we do?

  • Enlighten your worrywart
  • Burst some worry balloons
  • Help them determine whether the worry is within or beyond control
    • Let worry be a call to action or otherwise turn it off
escape artist
Escape Artist

Battle for Independence

  • Issue is control-YOU have it THEY want it!
  • It’s not FAIR! Nobody listens to us!
  • World is overrun with rules, regulations, and restrictions
escape artist1
Escape Artist

Incorporate the three R’s:

Reward, Recognize, and be Rational

  • Reward good behavior
  • Recognize which discipline efforts work most effectively
    • Consistent-Punish each time
    • Appropriate-Let the punishment fit the crime
    • Results-Make it results oriented
    • Each- They are individuals
    • Swift- Don’t put off the punishment until later
  • Rational – Time yourself out when you are losing it.
escape artist2
Escape Artist

Battle Zones

  • Everyone’s doing it or going there
  • The messy room
  • Mouthing off
  • Privacy
  • School and schoolwork
  • The look
escape artist3
Escape Artist

As you encounter the battle campaigns of the Middlers, make sure you don’t win the short term battles and lose the war by forfeiting their affections.

It is not easy being a parent.

three ring circus
Three Ring Circus

Why is your Middler

Distracted, Disorganized, and Disinterested?

Distraction – Concentration on tasks for a length of time is difficult

Research shows that between the ages of 12-14 a child’s ability to learn slacks off when demands in classes may be increasing.

three ring circus1
Three Ring Circus

What should I expect?

  • A temporary lag in homework or disappointing grade here and there is to be expected during this time
  • If you see dramatic changes in performance and it continues to slide then you may have a red flag indicating a problems
three ring circus2
Three Ring Circus

Do you find your Middler to be Disorganized?

  • Constantly forgets things
  • Messy room
  • Constantly loses things
  • Underestimates the amount of time to complete a task
  • Does homework but fails to turn it in
  • Seems oblivious of time
three ring circus3
Three Ring Circus

What can I do to help with Disorganization?

  • Arrange a good place to work
  • Use the Agenda
  • Make lists
  • Use visual and verbal reminders
  • Use an oven timer
  • Break up large tasks into smaller ones
  • Back up written assignments if they are often lost
  • Clean out the backpack weekly
  • Set a good example
  • Prepare the night before
three ring circus4
Three Ring Circus

Disinterested – Interests shift during this age

  • Privacy becomes important
  • They want and need time alone
three ring circus5
Three Ring Circus

Master “Middler-Speak”

  • “Fine”
  • “Nothing”
  • “I don’t know”

Stop-Look-Listen – approach to communication

three ring circus6
Three Ring Circus

Three Rules for 3-D Middlers

  • Don’t retreat
  • Control your reactions
  • Be an advocate
ringing the bell helping your middler succeed in school
Ringing the BellHelping your Middler succeed in school

“A good parent’s involvement is always welcomed when it leads to a partnership among parent, child, and teacher.”

(Middle school teacher)

ringing the bell
Ringing the Bell

Grades alone do not define a successful adolescent

  • Brains grow at different rates
  • Doing well in school may be eclipsed by popularity
  • Discover the opposite sex
  • Complicated times to grow up
ringing the bell1
Ringing the Bell

How can I help my Middler succeed in school?

  • Stay informed
  • Prepare your child for learning
  • Maintain high expectations
  • Nurture your learner
  • Make learning a multimedia experience
  • Keep criticism of teachers and school to a minimum
ringing the bell2
Ringing the Bell

Parents should be seen and not heard

(at least in a Middler’s presence)

  • Cheerleader
  • Chauffeur
  • Chaperone
  • Committee Member
  • Resource
  • Volunteer
  • Club sponsor or assistant
ringing the bell3
Ringing the Bell

Stay informed and help keep us informed!

  • School newsletter
  • Electronic Weekly News
  • PTA and SICA
  • Agenda
  • School Calendar
  • E-mail and phone calls
thank you
Thank you!

Next Parent Workshop

Date – March 26th

Noon and 6:30