A counselor and popular Washington Post contributor offers a new take on grades 6-8 as a distinct developmental phaseand the perfect time to set up kids to thrive.
Middle school is its own important, distinct territory, and yet it's either written off as an uncomfortable rite of passage or lumped in with other developmental phases. Based on her many years working in schools, professional counselor Phyllis Fagell sees these years instead as a critical stage that parents can't afford to ignore (and though "middle school" includes different grades in various regions, Fagell maintains that the ages make more of a difference than the setting). Though the transition from childhood to adolescence can be tough for kids, this time of rapid physical, intellectual, moral, social, and emotional change is a unique opportunity to proactively build character and confidence.
Fagell helps parents use the middle school years as a low-stakes training ground to teach kids the key skills they'll need to thrive now and in the future, including making good friend choices, negotiating conflict, regulating their own emotions, be their own advocates, and more. To answer parents' most common questions and struggles with middle school-aged children, Fagell combines her professional and personal expertise with stories and advice from prominent psychologists, doctors, parents, educators, school professionals, and middle schoolers themselves.
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About the Author
Phyllis Fagell is a licensed clinical professional counselor, a certified professional school counselor, and a journalist. She has worked in both public and private schools with students in grades K-12, focusing on middle school for the last several years. She currently works full time as the school counselor for Sheridan School in Washington, D.C. She also provides therapy to children, teens and families in private practice.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 What's the Big Deal About Middle School? 1
Values and Integrity "It's easier to lie than deal with all the drama." 8
Chapter 2 Making Responsible, Healthy, and Ethical Decisions 11
Chapter 3 Fostering Honesty 24
Chapter 4 Encouraging Kindness and Empathy 35
Chapter 5 Embracing Difference in Self and Others 49
Social Skills "I feel judged and ignored." 65
Chapter 6 Managing Shifting Friendships 67
Chapter 7 Dealing with Bullying 79
Chapter 8 Coping with Gossip and Social Turmoil 91
Chapter 9 Growing Up Sexually Healthy 103
Chapter 10 Preparing for Love 120
Learning "Everyone is getting A's except for me." 129
Chapter 11 Encouraging Balance and Setting Reasonable Expectations 131
Chapter 12 Tackling Homework 141
Chapter 13 Intervening When School is a Struggle 151
Empowerment and Resilience "There are all sorts of people in the world, and we'll all find our place." 163
Chapter 14 Connecting with Boys and Helping them Connect with Others 165
Chapter 15 Raising Strong, Empowered Girls 179
Chapter 16 Taking Risks in a World of No's 193
Chapter 17 Managing Setbacks and Shoring Up Resilience 205
Chapter 18 Preparing Kids for a Changing World 219
Conclusion Moving Forward: "Make mistakes, model self-compassion, and grow alongside your child." 231
Parent Discussion Guide 237
Educator Discussion Guide 249
About the Author 298