“She’s so emotional! When I started talking about her new school, she burst into tears, ran to her room, and locked the door!”
It’s a familiar story at the end of the year, whether or not there’s a new school involved. Middle schoolers are such emotional creatures anyway, and all of the emotions that come with endings and new beginnings bubble up and overflow. The adults in their lives find themselves riding a roller coaster with blind turns, breathtaking climbs, and alarming dips.
The best thing a parent can do is to hold their middle schooler’s hand during the scary parts, high five them during the exciting parts, and try not to be caught off guard by the next outburst.
At our school, the 8th graders graduate in June and go off to either 9th grade at a junior high, or freshman year in high school. Doesn’t matter where they go, they’re leaving behind all that’s been familiar – for 10 years for some of them – and heading into foreign territory. Their comments throughout the year swing from “I can’t wait!” to “I don’t want to go!” I tell them they should be ready to leave but sad to go, and they appreciate that I understand how mixed up they are.
That’s the parents’ job, too – to show they understand. A middle schooler will appreciate a parent who shows empathy far more than a parent who belittles – or worse, who tries to change – their feelings.