Parenting your grade-schooler, who is going through many new and sometimes confusing changes, can be challenging. Some parents are not prepared for the first signs of puberty and may not know how to handle them when they occur. In this article, we will be tackling tips on helping you successfully navigate some of these parenting challenges as they arise, and hopefully improve your chances of raising a healthy and happy family member.
Parenting is not an easy task. Kids do not come with a user’s manual, so how do you know if you are making big mistakes? Luckily, it is not hopeless. Armed with some smart strategies and a heads up on common mistakes, you may be able to avoid these common problems:
1. Are you not practicing what you preach?
One of the best ways to get your child to listen and do as they are told is by example. As adults, we all know that children look up to their parents as role models, so look at yourself and make sure that what you are doing is something you want your child to do.
Every aspect of your lifestyle from whether you smoke or use other drugs, to how you handle stress and treat others, impacts the people around you. It is not just what you say, but what you do that matters. If a child sees his father smoking, he will learn (consciously or subconsciously) that it is okay for him to smoke when he gets older. If parents talk about the importance of staying in school but make no effort to get their own children emancipated from the cycle of poverty, their words will have little credibility with their children. So, what does it mean to practice what you preach? It means walking the talk by talking less and doing more. It means following through on your commitments instead of making excuses for why something did not work out as planned. It means being consistent in your behavior instead of contradicting yourself every time there’s a challenge or a temptation.”
2. Always Praise Your Kid with Words and Actions
Your children may feel the same way when you correct them. “We want children to take on an internal locus of control. If they are criticized or judged harshly, they are more likely to give up,”
Praising your child when they try something new is a great way to build confidence. Praise can be given in both words and actions. If a child tries a new sport and enjoys the experience, tell them that you are proud of the effort they put in and that you know they can do anything if they try hard enough. A simple gesture like high-fiving or giving a thumbs up shows your support without saying anything at all.
Praising your child is good but be careful not to praise him or her all the time. Children can get upset by constant praise, and they might lose motivation to improve and learn because they think they are already great. You should try to praise your child when he or she deserves it, rather than all the time or in a situation where he or she did not really do anything (like when helping a friend).
3. Never Deny Your Kid Being Overweight
It can be difficult for parents to accept that their child might be overweight. She knows that many parents say their child will grow out of it or is just big-boned.
Too many parents think their kids are too young for any serious health problems. The reality is that childhood obesity can lead to serious health problems later in life, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. If you think your child is overweight or obese, see your doctor for an evaluation. They will be able to help you create a plan to prevent serious health problems from developing down the road.
Parents of preteens may sometimes be reluctant to acknowledge that their child is overweight, but there is no need to make kids feel ashamed. Instead, parents should talk with their children about healthy eating and exercise habits. Encouraging children who are overweight to join an organized sports team or take dance lessons can help them lose weight while also improving their social skills. By reinforcing good health habits in your children, you can help them maintain healthy weights into adulthood.
If your child has become overweight, it is important to begin implementing changes in his or her lifestyle as soon as possible. Children learn by example, so to learn to eat healthily and be more active, it is necessary that their parents also eat healthily and remain active.
4. Do not Take Too Long to Have “the Conversation”
Waiting too long to have “the talk” with your kids is putting them at risk of receiving misinformation from their friends, or simply not knowing what to expect — especially with girls who are entering puberty earlier and earlier. That is why we recommend sitting down with your children as early as age 10 when they are old enough to understand the changes happening in their bodies.
Puberty can be a confusing and embarrassing part of growing up for both boys and girls. But it is also important for parents to talk about changes that come with puberty like how to handle underarm hair, facial hair, menstruation, breast development in girls, and erections in boys so children can feel comfortable discussing their bodies.
5. Overscheduling Your Child with Routine
Overbooking your child can have a negative effect on their academic performance and social development. Over-scheduling your kids can not only affect their grades, but it can also take away valuable time that they could spend developing other skills and interests.
Middle school is a time of real transition for kids. They go from a single homeroom teacher to going from class to class with multiple teachers and a lot of homework and expectations. Fifth- and sixth graders are entering middle school and the academic rigor is really increased. They are kind of in this scary place where they need help getting settled, but they do not want help because it makes them look young or naive or something like that. Our message is, hey, we are here to support you as you reach for your dreams.
The best way to strike a balance between meeting academic expectations and being involved in extracurricular activities is to take your cues from your child. Different children have different needs, and there are no fixed rules as to how many after-school activities are too many. You will know what works best for your child no matter which activity or combination of activities you choose.
6. Are you Ignoring the Red Flags of Bullying?
Schools can be stressful places for kids. And when stress builds up around children, they may not always be able to handle it. “We see it in the context of children coming in with vague aches and pains because of stress,” says Dr. Volin.
Bullying can and does, occur in grade school. Many times, the symptoms of bullying are overlooked such as persistent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sad, loss of confidence, decline in grades at school, depression, problems sleeping, and nightmares. “We see so many of these symptoms.”
If your child loves school and then suddenly starts refusing to go, that is a sign that bullying may be an issue. Talk to school officials and ask if they have been aware of any problems. Adults should always be aware of what is going on with their children.
Parents can monitor the social media activity of their preteens with software such as Net Nanny, which will allow parents to block certain websites and set limits on Internet usage. There are also locks that can be placed on applications that may be used to communicate with other people, such as Facebook or Twitter. It is important to have open communication with your child about social media, so they know what appropriate behavior is when interacting with others online.
7. Skipping Visits to the Doctor
Skipping routine checkups with your doctor may be tempting, especially if they are not covered by insurance and can be costly. But experts agree that annual visits to a pediatrician or family doctor are essential.
Kids need to be aware of the norms for height, weight, and body mass index when they enter school. They can learn about good nutrition and adequate physical activity during this time as well. For example, it is important that kids get enough calcium to support healthy growth.
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