Reminder for MS Parents

September 2nd, 2011

Think back to when you were in Middle School…

  • What did you look like?
  • Did you like what you looked like?
  • Did you start puberty early or late?
  • What were your fears/worries and hopes/dreams?
  • Did you like your parents?
  • Did you feel loved by your parents?
  • How did they show you their love?

1. Teens are not perfect

          Adolescence – a time of growth physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual
  • Mood swings
  • Attitude changes
  • Peer group importance

Remember teens are not perfect, be patient they are in ‘process’.  They are going through MAJOR changes hormonally.  Often they are well behaved at school and their ‘attitude’ or moodiness comes out at home.

2. Teens need unconditional love

    Dr. Ross Campbell in How to Really Parent Your Teenager says…

  • Teenagers are still children.
  • Children are emotionally immature.
  • Emotionally immature behavior is unpleasant.
  • If my love seems lessened by such behavior, my children will not feel loved.
  • Unfelt love leads to insecurity, poor self-image, and many worse things.
  • Unconditional love makes our children strong, confident, secure and healthy.


“Unconditional love means being careful not to compare their strength and weaknesses with their siblings and classmates.”

~ Dr. Ross Campbell


3. Teens need boundaries and discipline

  • Exercise
  • Healthy diet – fresh fruit and veggies, plenty of water…
  • A Curfew
  • A Bedtime – plenty of SLEEP!

    SLEEP! Mary Carskadon discovered in her sleep research…

  • That teens, far from needing less sleep, actually needed as much or more sleep than they had gotten as children – 9 ¼ hours. Most teenagers weren’t getting nearly enough!!!
  • Putting good sleep habits into practice is particularly difficult for teenagers. Not only do their own circadian rhythms fight against going to sleep early, but many teens don’t have any control over the time they wake up.
  • Sleep experts say dimming the lights at night and getting lots of daylight in the morning can help. Having a routine bedtime of 10 p.m., sleeping in a cool environment and turning off music, the Internet, and televisions would help to reset the body clock.

4. Teens need a break from technology

  • Distracted by electronic gadgets in their rooms, teenagers are getting fewer quality sleep hours than ever before.
  • Sleep experts call this phenomenon Junk Sleep – sleep that is of neither the length nor quality that it should be in order to feed the brain with the rest it needs to perform properly at school.

    Tips For Dealing With a Junk Sleeper

  • Parents will just have to grit their teeth and get strict with their tech-dependent teens. Junk Sleeping is only a habit, not a permanent condition, and may be quite easily controlled.
  • Try (it probably would not be easy) to not have televisions in bedrooms – have one television in the family room so television viewing is more of a social exercise.
  • Enforce turn-off times on PCs, iPods, and phones.
  • Remove every high tech gadget from the bedroom.
  • Paint walls calm colors, such as soft blues and greens, tan, light yellow or peach.
  • Start eating early – meals eaten too close to bedtime can also hamper sleep.
  • Encourage more exercise, especially in the evenings, for this enables deep sleep.
  • Limit all caffeinated drinks – this includes colas, coffee and tea.
  • Help your teen set a regular sleep-wake routine that won’t vary by more than two hours on the weekends.
  • Tell your teen the importance of sleep – that sleep is as good, in many ways, as study. During sleep, the brain replays the information learnt and consolidates it into long term memory. This is why teens who sleep well score better on tests than those who are sleep-deprived.

5. Teens need media protection

  • When I was five, I visited my teenage cousins, who watched porn in front of me with their friends.
  • I’ve struggled with a pornography addiction on and off since I was an adolescent.
  • I first started looking at porn when I was 12. I went to a friend’s house after school.
  • I began watching pornography when I was 11 and continued until I was 20.
  • I was 9 when a friend introduced me to the collection of pornography magazines her father kept in his bedroom.

Nightmare story from ‘The Power of a Praying Parent’

Covenant Eyes Accountability Software (

  • Fight Internet Temptation.

Surveys show at least 70 percent of men and 21 percent of women struggle with online pornography. Internet pornography and the secret life it creates can destroy relationships, families, and marriages.

  • How does Internet  Accountability work?
    Covenant Eyes software monitors a person’s Internet use and emails a report of all websites visited for Accountability Partners to view. Accountability Partners are trusted individuals selected by the member to review reports and discuss how the Internet is used.

6. Teens need values

  • Your teen needs you to teach him/her values so they can create their own strong moral backbone.  They will then know how to treat themselves and others with respect.
  • Teens are influenced by a lot of different factors including the media, their peers and siblings; however, it is important to remember that parents remain the greatest influence on their children. Researchers have identified a number of ways in which parents can influence their teenager’s alcohol intake, and we can use this information to reduce the likelihood that young people will become involved in unsafe drinking.

“It has been found that a supportive, warm relationship with a significant adult helps protect against all kinds of adverse events in young peoples’ lives, including unsafe drinking. Encouraging open communication within the family is a good place to begin.”

7. Teens need parents who are available

  • Initiate conversations about school, sports, friends, current events etc…
  • Ask open-ended questions (questions that do not have a right-or-wrong definitive answer) 

(Be sensitive to when they’re not in a talkative mood)

50 Things to Do With or For Your Teen This Year… (

  1. Go walking or hiking
  2. Do a puzzle or play a board game
  3. Go bowling
  4. Cook a meal together
  5. Plan the family vacation together

8. Teens need un-shockable parents

  • If you overreact, teens won’t tell you their ideas, concerns fears, etc…  
  • Listen and stay calm.  
  • Place a high value on discussion and the exchange of opinions.  
  • Look for ‘teachable moments’.
  • Encourage your teen to think and ask questions; teach them how to solve problems. 

9. Teens need to be teachable
Teach your teen to listen and respect other people’s ideas, even if they disagree with them.

10. Teens need parental modeling

  • Handling our unpleasant feelings like disappointment, loneliness, anger, grief etc…
  • Resolving conflicts – Which is more important?  Being right and winning an argument or the condition of your relationship?
  • Teach your teen how to admit when they are wrong – to apologize and ask forgiveness by your example…

11. Teens need encouragement

  • Remember back to your own Middle School days…
    Especially if you had insecurities and lacked self-confidence Or if you struggled with accepting yourself…
  • Be careful not to major on the minors.  “Choose your battles wisely.”  e.g. a messy bedroom, hairstyles, clothes…
  • Let your teen have a chance to develop their own identity, giving them more independence, helping them establish their own place in the world.

One 10th grader’s reflection on Middle School…

“I was under a lot of stress during my middle school years.  I remember once during 8th grade Physical Science, I wanted to commit suicide, but I was afraid to die.  On the test I earned a B or C and I was very upset.  With my tendency of getting easily depressed, I started thinking of all sorts of negative thoughts.  Throughout the rest of class I had negative self-talk, “Why am I so stupid?  I believe no-one will miss me if I die…  I’m not worth anything…”  Thoughts like this kept coming into my mind.  I wanted to cry but I held back.”

Now I am in 10th grade…  That test in 8th grade probably didn’t affect me that much.  Now my friend and I tell each other this line when we get upset about test score:  “This is only one test out of hundreds or thousands we will take throughout our whole life.”  We usually feel better after comforting ourselves with this line.

I cope better now with the stress of tests by:

Finding solutions instead of negative self–talk. For example: Studying earlier or studying with an upper-classmen.

12. Teens are ‘smart’ in many different ways

  • Word Smart
    Linguistic (ability to express oneself in words on paper and aloud and to conceptualize ideas and thoughts verbally). Major form of intelligence used in school, on IQ test; essence of what people normally think of as smart.
  • Picture Smart
    Spatial (art, architecture, engineering, graphic design, photography, etc.)
  • Music Smart
    Musical (composing, playing musical instruments, singing, retaining melodies, pitch, etc.)
  • Body Smart
    Kinesthetic (athletic ability, physical strength, endurance, coordination)
  • Logic Smart
    Logic/Mathematics (reasoning, math, science, computers, technology)
  • People Smart
    Interpersonal (people skills; dealing with others/relationships; working in teams, etc.)
  • Self Smart
    Intrapersonal (self-knowledge – spirituality, personal growth, etc.)

More on “Multiple Intelligences”

Harvard University Psychologist Howard Gardner pioneered the discovery of different types of intelligence that  have been identified in humans.  They are referred to as “Multiple Intelligences” (described in simpler terms on previous slide).  It is important to realize that some children have great intelligence in ways that are less common than other ways, or who are able to express their intelligence in less traditional ways. 

If a child doesn’t do well on a test in school, it is not necessarily a reflection on their level of intelligence.  While it could be due to insufficient studying, it could also be that what the child has learned is better conveyed in a different way – such as through drawing a picture, creating a model, putting it to music, or teaching another student. 

Typically, good test-takers are “Word Smart,” but that doesn’t mean that most people are naturally “Word Smart.”  How we learn, and how we are able to convey what we learn, is part of how we are made.  This is why being able to do well on traditional tests comes more naturally to some people than to others.

Many of us can learn ways to improve our test-taking skills, but it may never feel as natural for us as it might for others.  Keep in mind, though, that many specialized professions in this high-tech era are better accomplished by people who are naturally more smart in other ways than simply being “Word Smart.”

13. Teens benefit from parents’ strong marriage

One day their teenage son, Derrek, blurted out, “Why don’t you two spend some time together? Other parents go out on dates and take time away. I don’t know if I even want to get married if it is going to wind up like your marriage!” Greg and Dana were stunned. They hadn’t considered that their kids would notice the distance between them. But here was Derrek, begging for security.

That night Greg and Dana went out for coffee. For the first time in a long time they had an honest talk about their relationship thanks to their son’s comments. He needed them, but he also needed them to love each other and make an investment in their marriage.