Mention being the parent of a young adolescent and other adults may roll their eyes and express their sympathy. They see images of bedrooms in which lost homework assignments share floor space with potato chip wrappers and grubby sweatpants.
But parents’ concerns run deeper than messy bedrooms. They worry about the problems that young adolescents often face: rocky emotions, rebellion, peer pressures, low motivation, drugs, alcohol and pregnancies.
During the years from ages 10 through 14, children undergo many physical, emotional and mental changes. Together these changes can throw the lives of young teens and their parents off-balance. Major problems may arise, particularly among children who are already at risk of school failure.
On the other hand, if you talk to adults who work with young adolescents teachers, school counselors and principals you see another view of these children. It’s true that young teens can be frustrating and challenging and that they can test their parents’ patience. It’s also true, however, that these same youngsters can be funny, curious, imaginative and eager to learn. As research confirms, most young teens run into bumps but no boulders. They (and their parents) hit some rough spots, but they get through the young adolescent years successfully and grow into adults who find work, create meaningful relationships and become good citizens.
The journey through these years is easier when parents, families and caregivers learn as much as they can about this time in children’s lives and when they give their children support. This booklet is designed to help in this effort. It pulls together information from scientifically based research, as well as from interviews with award-winning middle school teachers, counselors and principals most of whom also are or have been recently parents of young adolescents. The booklet addresses the following questions and concerns that parents of young teens often raise:
- How will my child change between the ages of 10 and 14?
- What can I do to be a good parent for my adolescent?
- How can I communicate better with my child?
- How much independence should I give my child?
- How can I help my child to become more confident?
- How can I help my child to form good friendships and to resist harmful peer pressure?
- What can I do to keep the media from being a bad influence on my child?
- What is school like for adolescents?
- What’s the best way for me to stay involved in my child’s school and in other activities?
- How can I help my child to be a successful reader?
- How can I keep my child motivated to learn and do well, both in and out of school?
- What can I do to help my child to develop good values and to learn right from wrong?
- How can I tell and what can I do if my child is having a serious problem?