Middle schoolers want more freedom and want to exert their personality and independence. So, as a parent it is important to coach them through this new phase with opportunities to build trust, take ownership and responsibility for their choices and consequences, and to demonstrate some autonomous decisions. However, it is also our duty to protect them from some of the decisions that are still too big for them to make on their own. So, think about creating some harmony in the decision-making process, and relinquishing some control to allow them to build autonomy and independence.
Here are some suggestions to consider, which will allow your child to build the skills needed to be a more responsible and trustworthy citizen at home, school, activities, and within the community.
- Offer choices to support the function of the house
- Pick 2 of the 3 chores to complete today
- Pick 1 menu item for dinner this week
- Choose the vegetable for dinner
- Help with meal prep for 2 of the 7 dinners this week
- Offer choices in entertainment
- Choose a movie you would like to watch as a family
- Pick from one of two nights for family night this week
- Set a schedule together for device free time
- Offer choices in communication
- Choose if you would rather receive a text, snapchat, or phone call to check in at the end of the school day
- Offer choices in homework
- Choose the subject you are going to complete first
- Choose where you sit to complete homework
- Choose the family member you want to help you with the project
- Offer choices for activities
- Choose 1 sport/activity per season you wish to be involved
- Choose 1 day of the week for friend time outside of school
- Offer choices for volunteering
- Choose one family volunteer activity to help with this month
Giving adolescents choices as often as you can, and coach them through the decision-making process. This allows them to build this needed life skill in a protected and safe way. Do not think of it as giving up control, but as helping your child learn to manage his or her place in this world.