Here It Comes!
Transition to Middle School
You've been anticipating this for the past few years — your child's
transition from elementary school to middle school. Be warned, this is a
critical time and calls for extra vigilance on your part. Your son or
daughter may still seem young, but their new surroundings can put them
in some mature and tempting situations.
The likelihood that kids will try drugs increases dramatically during
this year. Your child is going to meet lots of new kids, seek
acceptance, and start to make more — and bigger — choices. For the first
time, your kids will be exposed to older kids who use Alcohol, Tobacco,
or other drugs. New middle or junior high schoolers often think these
older students are cool and may be tempted to try drugs to fit in.
One type of drug in particular to watch out for is Inhalants, since they
tend to be abused at a very young age. Inhalants are ordinary household
products that are inhaled or sniffed by children to get high — but can
cause serious brain damage, among other side effects. A recent 2004
study shows that abuse of inhalants by 6th graders has increased by as
much as 44 percent over a two-year period. Therefore, it's important to
be aware of these harmful chemicals and be sure to educate your children
on their effects as well.
To many middle-school kids, peer approval means everything and your
child may make you feel unwelcome. He is going through a time where he
feels as though he should be able to make his own decisions and may
start to challenge your values. While your child may physically and
emotionally pull away from you to establish his own identity — and may
even seem embarrassed by you at times — he actually needs you to be
involved in his life more than ever before.
Also, be aware that your child is going through some major physical and
hormonal changes as well. Her moods may vary as she tries to come to
terms with her ever-changing body and the onset of puberty. Keep
yourself educated on what to expect — if you reassure her that nothing
is out of the ordinary, your child can relax knowing that what she's
going through is normal.
To help your child make good choices during this critical time, you
Make it very clear that you do not
want her to use alcohol, tobacco, Marijuana, or other drugs.
Find out if he really understands
the consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use.
Get to know her friends by taking
them to and from after-school activities, games the library, and
movies while being sensitive to her need to feel independent).
Check in with her friends' parents often to make sure you share the
same anti-drug stance.
for activities where you can observe him at school.
Hold a weekly
family meeting to check in with each other and address problems or
your kids involved with adult-supervised after-school activities.
Give kids who are
unsupervised after school a schedule of activities, limits on their
behavior, household chores to accomplish, and a strict
phone-in-to-you policy (along with easily accessible snacks).
it easy for your child to leave a situation where alcohol, tobacco,
or other drugs are being used.
Call kids' parents
if their home is to be used for a party; get assurance that no
alcoholic beverages or illegal substances will be at the party.
Set curfews and
Encourage open dialogue with your
children about their experiences.