Middle school is the worst–for kids and their parents.
Middle school is truly the messy middle, sandwiched between the sweet elementary time and the exciting high school years.
The change that happens during this time can feel overwhelming for you and your child. Their school days likely look different, their bodies are changing, hormones enter the mix, friendships become more complex, expectations are higher, and it all feels like a lot.
Phones and devices are often introduced into the mix, and there is so much drama.
Books for parenting during the middle school years
Middle school can be challenging, but there are resources that can help you stay connected during this difficult time.
We’ve compiled a list of nine of our favorite books to help you and your child navigate these challenging years with a bit more ease.
Your child’s friends will likely start to play a larger role in their life. That can be both wonderful and tricky. If you have a daughter check out BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends): A Girl’s Guide to Happy Friendships. Friendships can be complicated at any age but in middle school, the challenges are magnified.
This book is interactive, with fun quizzes, colorful illustrations, and stories. It works as a guidebook for girls to learn the ins and outs of friendship. It explores the topics of gossip, bullying, and feeling left out, along with ways to strengthen the friendships that mean the most. Author Jessica Speer is an expert on post-pandemic friendships with experience in helping tweens, teens, and young adults navigate their social relationships.
This is a great read for girls to help them identify and nurture healthy friendships.
Along the same lines, Middle School―Safety Goggles Advised: Exploring the Weird Stuff from Gossip to Grades, Cliques to Crushes, and Popularity to Peer Pressure helps kids navigate friendships. This book is good for all middle schoolers. We like that this guidebook explores some of the odd behaviors that lurk in the middle school shadows and explains what’s really going on. It addresses popularity and drama, both things that are often new and unfortunate factors for kids this age.
Middle school can be especially challenging for boys; they are often frustrated trying to navigate all the changes. The Manual to Middle School: The “Do This, Not That” Survival Guide for Guys the “do this, not that” format covers a hundred relevant topics and situations middle school boys will face, including school lockers, bullies, test taking, cell phone use, homework, gossip, leadership, respect, sports, and many more.
This middle time can make parents think of all they have yet to teach their kids because their childhood is half over. Tweens will help parents give their kids what they need at this stage.
Not quite a child and not yet a teenager, tweens embody a very specific stage of development that once understood will revolutionize the way you parent, educate and support those in your care. In Tweens, award-winning parenting expert Michelle Mitchell explains that this is the most rapid period of development since toddlerhood. Right now, before the full pressures of high school hit, you have a window of opportunity that can change the trajectory of adolescence and beyond.
There’s no doubt SO much you wish to teach your child in the time they’re under your roof. The book
Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen: The Essential Conversations You Need to Have with Your Kids Before They Start High School can help prepare both parents and their middles schoolers for the emotional, physical, and social challenges that may lie ahead. The author lays out scripts and advice to keep the communication going and stay connected during this critical developmental window. If you’re not sure how to broach tough subjects, this book can help.
This is one of the best and most encouraging books for parenting during the middle school years. There’s plenty of hard stuff during the middle school years but there can be magic too. In Finding the Magic in Middle School: Tapping Into the Power and Potential of the Middle School Years, author Chris Balme draws on his experience as a middle school founder, principal, and teacher and incorporates the latest adolescent neuroscience. He shows what is going on in the brains of middle schoolers, and how that affects how they relate to others.
There is a lot for kids to learn and some of it is basic real-world stuff. In one of our favorite books Life Skills for Tweens, kids can learn 70+ everyday skills ranging from budgeting to cooking to dealing with an emergency. Some of these things you may not think to teach your kids or maybe they’d rather hear it from a book than a parent. Also, check out the bestseller Life Skills for Teens if you want to get ahead of the game.
While this isn’t a specific book for parenting during the middle school years, it’s a great read for any parent trying to build resiliency in their tween. Trying something new can be scary, especially when focused on fitting in. It can be hard to try new things and risk failure. Let’s encourage our kids (and ourselves) always to be willing to be new at something, to try new things, and take healthy chances. In Ryan Leak’s book Chasing Failure, he shows us all how failure is crucial to success. This book will empower tweens to look at failure differently. That shift in perspective will relieve some of the pressure to get everything right the first time.
You also may enjoy Leak’s 15-minute video with the same message. It’s a great video to watch together and discuss.
Many parent-child relationships start deteriorating during the tween years, and when they are, they tend to get worse. However, if you can get through the preteen years with your relationship intact, the teen years tend to bring a better relationship.
No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope offers practical help and encouragement to cope with issues such as emotional meltdowns, school work, spiritual questions, and connection.
Additional resources heading into the teen years
Are you headed into the teen years? Here a few other books we recommend:
The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate AdolescentsUntangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into AdulthoodThe New Adolescence: Raising Happy and Successful Teens in an Age of Anxiety and DistractionThe Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young AdultsRaising Teens in the 21st CenturyThe 5 Love Languages of Teenagers: The Secret to Loving Teens EffectivelyParenting Teens With Love And Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, Updated and Expanded EditionBoundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No
Are you in the thick of raising your tweens and teens? You may like this book by Whitney Fleming, the co-owner of Parenting Teens & Tweens: Loving Hard When They’re Hard to Love: Essays about Raising Teens in Today’s Complex, Chaotic World.
Raising tweens and teens is hard. Here are a few other posts parents have found helpful:
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