Middle School & Good Communication

Middle School Communication
As our first year of middle school is wrapping up I have noticed many changes, but one remains sticking out awkward like a sharp splinter.  Good communication.What is good communication with a preteen boy?
“uh, huh”

I realized I needed to make some extra effort to create opportunities for good communication.  Time outside of our normal math, science, language arts arm wrestling to finish assignments {with complete sentences}.

I doubt any one wants to chat up thoughts and feelings after a knock out drag out fight over algebra equations.  I stopped expecting the warm and fuzzy conversations when I kept hearing, “I hate math.”  And that was coming from me!

Good communication flows naturally for all of us when we are not frustrated, rushed, angry, or crowded with noise.

I believe special time or date nights with my middle school son were important because he is gifted with the love language of quality time.  Rather than assume he has outgrown date nights with mom – I kept them.

Over chocolate milk and cookies we play cards.  Natural smooth communication flows.  Some evenings I have had to squash the shocked face like the night he confided in me he had his first crush on a girl at church.

During a trip to the book store together he tells me he didn’t like a book-made-movie because the bad guys tortured the good guy, and he doesn’t like stuff like that.

Walking the dog we have chatted what he thinks about current events I would not dare discuss in front of my 1st grader.

I keep offering a judgement-free time for him to share his thoughts and feelings.  I can not tell you how many times I wanted to get riled up and thrown down a learning lesson. But it was not the right time.  It was his time to share with me.  There were a few issues I had to go back and discuss, and it was handled well because I waited.My best tip for keeping good communication … do not rush it.  One night we were pressed for time and I kept asking, “is there anything you want to talk about?” as I kept clock watching.  Of course he didn’t share a word.  He knew I was just going through the motions. All I got that night were a few nods.

Middle school children are not dumb. If anything they’re getting much smarter than we want to give them credit.  Be genuine with your children.  Be real. Be honest. Don’t sugar coat things anymore.

Create special time to chat in the morning, during the day, or late at night.  See them on their terms and times. Not when it’s great for you.  You might have to say, “now isn’t the time I can give you, can we talk tonight?”
I believe making the time is a priority.

As the world continues to get more crazy give your middle school child a safe place to share their thoughts and feelings. Don’t assume because they are not offering anything they aren’t processing everything. You might have to ask questions first, that’s okay.

Be consistent.  Keep good communication going between you so you know what’s going on and they know you care.

Otherwise, who are they going to feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings?

Stef shares tactile tips and hands-on learning activities via twitter and instagram @StefMLayton