Encourage participation. The more involved your child is in school and after-school activities, the more likely he or she will be to find friends, familiarity, and acceptance among different peer groups.

Stay engaged. Parental engagement tends to drop off dramatically in middle school even though studies show it improves academic achievement. A study from the nonprofit RAND Corporation shows most middle schools do too little to engage parents in the educational process, so you may have to work a little harder to get into the school and stay involved.

Offer help when needed. At this age, the frontal lobe – which controls strategizing, planning, organizing, and decision-making, among other things – is still developing. So don’t worry that you’re “babying” a teen or tween who needs a little extra help getting organized or planning.

Help your child become a self-advocate. Teachers at this level want to see kids advocating for themselves if they want to dispute a grade or need extra time to complete a project. Talk your child through how to approach his or her teachers and don’t be afraid to push some role-playing.

Before you know it, your worries of middle school being a nightmare will be over, and you’ll be ready to tackle the next transition to prevent high school horrors!

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