Want to keep your new middle-schooler out of trouble? Then let them take risks

by Michelle Icard

Middle school gets a bad rap.

Ask parents of graduating elementary-schoolers how they feel about their kids moving up, and you’ll be surprised how many of their responses fall into the “totally dreading it” end of the anticipation spectrum.

What’s so scary about middle school anyway? I mean, besides hormones, attitudes, peer pressure, emerging sexuality, defiance, exposure to drugs and alcohol… Um, okay. I get it. Middle school can be scary. But there is a lot to love about middle school, too. One of my favorites is that middle school can offer a buffet of new experiences, and kids should try them all. (Scratch that: No drugs and sex. But they should try a lot.)

Parents worry too much when their kids start listening to hard-core rap, or dyeing their hair strange colors, or making unlikely new friends. Instead, middle school should be seen as an important time to let kids begin to develop their identities apart from their parents. Who a child will become is not a foregone conclusion, and without trying a lot of new things, how can a young person truly know who she is? She has to test some limits. While it can be strange to see this happening, know that it’s happening for good reason…

Read more »