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Beline Obeid

Middle school years peer expectations

Ask the Experts


September 13, 2012
Q. My oldest child has just entered middle school. What should my expectations be regarding my child and peer relationships?

A. Each student who enters middle school comes with a unique sense of belonging and confidence. Accept your child for who she/he is and support the transition to middle school with a consistent and positive demeanor. New peer relationships will likely occur during the middle school years. Encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities and school events which will help develop new peer relationships, while still maintaining existing friendships. As tempting as it might be, don't pick your child's friends based upon what you think is best for your child. Instead, continue to nurture and empower your child to make good decisions and expand their interests. Let peer relationships develop naturally over time based upon the unique qualities of your child and not those of other students. Don't be surprised if your child focuses more on gaining approval from peers than from parents.

Q. My oldest child has just entered high school. What should my expectations be regarding my child and peer relationships?

A. Students entering high school tend to more egocentric than when they entered middle school three years ago. Many students believe the world revolves around them and their peer group of friends. Peer relationships have typically been formed in middle school. Social media availability and friends who have drivers' licences can expand and change peer groups in a hurry. Set limits on times spent with friends and insist on meeting your child's peers. Put a face to a name and encourage your child to use your house as a meeting place when parent(s) are home. It sends a message you are involved in their life, while at the same time empowering them to choose friends and participate in activities outside of the home. Consistently share your expectations with your child as it relates to their peer group.

They may act like it's none of your business, but, in reality, your child will respond in a positive way when expectations are shared and relationships are established with their peers and friends.

An overall effective parenting skill as it relates to all children in grades K-12 is to stay emotionally calm, positive and consistent. Remember, you are in a marathon and not a sprint to the finish. There will be many ups and downs, some pain, and much joy. Stay the course, even when you are winded and fatigued. Enjoy the victory at the end of the marathon.

Mike Dib, EdD is the principal of Brownell Middle School and an educator for more than 31 years. The first 14 years were spent teaching grades 2-6. Dib has also been an elementary principal for five years and an adjunct professor at Oakland University. He can be reached at Brownell at (313) 432-3904 or Mike.Dib@gpschools.org.

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