I teach a terrific group of home school students- 7th and 8th graders to be exact. I love junior high students and here are just a few reasons:
- They are passionate and not afraid to express it.
- They have no middle ground- they either love it or they hate it. (whatever it is!)
- They are excited about life.
- They are exploring friendships and maker stronger connections with peers.
- They think I am funny. (That endears them to me like nothing else!)
So, how can we take this exuberance for life and use it to help our junior high student with school, family relationships, and helping around the house? I think the biggest way to encourage young teens is to listen to them and to affirm them. Find some areas of their life where they are excelling and pump them up to the point where their egos are going to explode.
Maybe you think your child is already there when it comes to ego. Our kids put on a great front, but underneath they are longing to hear you say they are terrific. I remember my mom saying, “This too shall pass.” I thought she was talking to me, but in retrospect I think she was talking to herself as I went through puberty. I can recall being skinny, lanky, and clumsy and my dad commenting on how nice I looked when I got a new outfit. It made me know he loved me and I knew I could tackle the day.
Stop for just a moment and think about one thing your child does well- no, not pestering his brother and sisters! Let him know how much it means to you when he helps his little brother. Compliment her on her new hair cut or the friendship she is working so hard to establish. Your child needs to know that you love them- freckles, pimples, body odor and all! You have a rare opportunity to share your life with them and be there for them in these junior high years. It goes by all too quickly; remember, “This too shall pass.”
Ideas to encourage your junior high student:
- Decorate their door with their name and write one quality or adjective for each letter. Example: Sensational Awesome Magnificent.
- What is the meaning of their name? Write that on a card or type it on the computer in a fancy font. When I found out that my name meant “Consecrated to God” it made me think I was pretty special. I also thought that I should become a nun. (That is until I started to notice boys in junior high!)
- Take them out for a date, just the two of you. If you can’t afford to go somewhere then fix their favorite snack and spend some alone time with them. I still do this with my sons. I know it is an awful saying, but I think it is true for teenage boys… “A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
- Play video games with your sons. Guys love to beat their opponents and what an easy way for them to do it by you playing with them! I am lousy at games, but will attempt to play something just so the guys can see that I am willing to do something they like. They also gloat when they win. Oh, well!
- Go window shopping with your daughter. I didn’t say you had to buy anything 🙂 Just looking is fun and gives you insight into your daughter. It is also a good bonding time. You could get a treat while you are there for some extra girl time.
- How about a book store or the library? If you have a child who likes to read this is a great place to browse and connect.
- Find a scripture or encouraging word they can reflect upon. My mom gave me a scripture one night at the dinner table. She had made name cards and had written down a scripture for each of us. I am sure she didn’t know the impact that would make on me, but I have used this as a guide throughout the years.
- Work on a project together. Let your child pick something that you both can work on and schedule time to do it. Spending time with them lets them know you love them, you care, and you can show by example what it means to do your best. Perhaps you don’t have much time for a long term project- what about something that you can do in a couple of hours and you divide it up over a period of weeks? Clearing your schedule says more to them than anything else.
- Help with chores. What?! I know the point of chores is so you get some help and teach responsibility, but don’t you ever wish someone would come to your rescue and help you? Don’t do it for them, but work alongside of them. Conversation will take place and by doing the work together you can set an example of how you want it done without lecturing. I bet your relationship would improve too 🙂
- Make coupons to give to your child. Ideas to consider would be: a home movie night with popcorn, a back rub, one batch of brownies, have a friend over for a sleepover, one pedicure (or manicure), one game night- most importantly- spend time with your son/daughter and have fun!