You already know the secrets to success. Make sure she does, too.
My daughter is now in middle school. It’s exciting for her – and at the same time, it’s a big transition fraught with a lot of worries and personal growth.
To better prepare her for what these middle school years will bring, I’m sharing with her some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I wish my own parents had shared their advice with me when I was her age! But, unfortunately, it just wasn’t the parenting style back then.
So, progress has arrived in some ways, but the trials and tribulations of middle school haven’t disappeared. If anything, they seem to be more difficult. The truth is, girls can be pretty catty, and when you add in social media, the result can be very tricky.
I want my daughter to have a solid foundation of self-esteem and skills, develop confidence in herself and in her future, and enjoy what should be precious years.
Here are the 15 critical things I want my daughter to learn as she begins middle school:
1. It’s normal to be nervous.
Everyone is worried about middle school. It’s a step-change above elementary school, and on the road to high school. Bodies are changing, emotions are elevated, and everybody is preoccupied with fitting in, including the popular kids and the nerds and everyone in between. If someone doesn’t admit to being apprehensive, they are not being honest.
2. You’re going to have to work harder.
Get ready for more homework! Your junior school let you enjoy your evenings. Now, it’s time to get deeper into your education.
You’re going to have to organize your time between after school and bedtime and get it all done. You’re going to learn this important skill, as well as learning a lot more about various subjects.
3. Taking care of yourself is essential.
You’re growing up and your body and mind are maturing, too. Focus on eating right, exercising, and getting enough sleep and you’ll be rewarded. You’ll have a foundation of good health for the future.
4. Develop new interests.
Middle school offers a broad range of extra-curricular activities. Try something new and slightly uncomfortable. Who knows? You may just find your passion. At least try something once before you judge.
5. Stay true to yourself.
Know who you are, what’s important to you, and respect yourself.
You’re going to face many tests in the years to come. People will ask you to do things you won’t want to do or things that you know aren’t good for you. It’s healthy to set boundaries for yourself and to proudly and simply say “No.”
6. You’re beautiful.
Remember that you’re beautiful inside and out. It doesn’t matter what you wear, how you do your hair, or how tall or how thin you are – you’re the same wonderful girl on the inside.
You don’t have to live up to some false ideal of beauty. Perfection doesn’t exist anyway, so treat social media posts with skepticism.
7. Real friends will like you as you are.
Your friendships are going to change over the next few years. Your current bestie might not be next year. That’s ok. People grow and change. Make space in your life for other people.
Sometimes you’ll find that you don’t have much in common anymore, or you discover the friendship isn’t healthy for you. Don’t get too attached that you lose your sense of self. If you feel like a friend is trying to change you, or doesn’t like you anymore, have the courage to move on. Middle school is not a popularity contest. True friends will have your back and treat you well.
8. Relationships are about putting yourself out there.
You’re going to meet a lot of new kids. Don’t always stay in your circle; smile and say hello to someone you don’t know. Be curious and find out something you didn’t know about someone. Share something about yourself. That new girl across the hall just might turn out to be a great friend.
9. Believe in yourself.
With enthusiasm and hard work, you can accomplish great things.
Never lose sight of your dreams. In fact, it’s childhood ambitions that are the truest around. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you can’t do, be, feel, or have anything. Always trust yourself above all else.
10. You are not your mistakes.
On the road to success and happiness, you will make mistakes. Recognize that it’s inevitable and human. But, you are not your mistakes.
Try not to beat yourself up too much. You can recover from little mishaps – even big ones – and learn so much.
11. You can talk to me about anything.
If you get into a jam, or you have a difficulty of any kind, you can come to me. I may not always give you the answer, but we can find a solution to every problem.
Honesty is the best policy, too. My first priority is to make sure you’re safe. After that, my role is to guide and teach, and I can’t help you if I don’t have the full picture.
12. You’re still a kid.
Even though your body and mind are developing (and they will continue to until you’re about 25 believe it or not!), you’re still a kid. Don’t be in a big rush to grow up. You don’t need make-up or push-up bras quite yet, and stuffies and night lights are A-OK. There is plenty of time to be an adult later.
13. Ditch the drama.
Your life is just beginning and though it might feel like the end of the world when something doesn’t go your way, it’s not. When you’re 30, middle school will be a very distant memory. It won’t matter if you were or weren’t the cool kid, John didn’t like you, or Mary turned out to be a terrible friend. And an occasional bad mark isn’t going to keep you from pursuing your dream post-secondary program, either.
Feel emotions and maintain perspective. Be responsible and not too serious at the same time.
14. Be kind.
In the children’s book Wonder, R.J. Palacio writes, “When given the choice between being right or being kind choose kind.”
Kindness matters. The decision in a moment to be kind – offering a helping hand and a compassionate, generous heart will not only positively impact someone else, but it will change your life, too.
Most of all, be gentle with yourself. If you lead with kindness all-around, you’ll live a much happier, meaningful life.
15. I will always love you, no matter what.
Above all else, remember that I love you. I’m there with my invisible string cheering you on, whispering affirmations in your ear, and holding space for you to be the best you can be.
Remember just how unique and amazing you are. If you carry these pieces of wisdom around with you, I guarantee that you will not only survive middle school, but you’ll thrive in middle school, too. You have a bright future ahead.
Lisa Petsinis is a career and life coach who works with resourceful individuals who want to find their calling and create a life they'll love. Visit her website to learn about her services, contact her for a breakthrough coaching call, or sign up for her newsletter for even more advice.