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Helping Your Child Transition Into Middle School or Junior High


Most adolescents make the adjustment to middle school or junior high in a matter of weeks. But others may take longer to adjust. They may feel sick, refuse to leave the house, or have nightmares and unreasonable fears. You can help your child deal with this adjustment and anticipate other situations that may come up during the school year. Here are some tips.

  • Listen to your teen.

    By listening to your teen's concerns, you can offer help. For example, you can create a map of classrooms before school starts to help relieve some anxiety.

  • Learn how to help your child with bullying.

    Bullying is a common experience for many adolescents. If you suspect bullying is a problem:

    • Talk about it with your child.
    • Seek help from your child's teacher, principal, or school counsellor.
    • Work with your child to come up with strategies to deal with a bully, such as walking away or looking the bully in the eye and saying, "Leave me alone."
  • Teach your child how to manage time.

    Some children need help adjusting to more complex and varied subjects and more homework than in past years.

    • Help your children set short- and long-term goals and prioritize tasks.
    • Get a calendar or date book and show them how to list their responsibilities, such as homework and after-school sports.
    • Help them organize and set aside time for each task.
    • Keep track of how long the task takes, so you can find out whether your time allotments need to be adjusted.
  • Address poor grades.
    • Emphasize the importance of a good education.
    • Stress that a good education requires hard work but that the effort is well worth it.
    • Set goals for grades or school projects with your teen.
    • Help your teen reach his or her goals, and reward success.
    • Encourage your teen to get good grades for himself or herself, not to make you (the parent) happy.
  • Respond to performance anxiety.

    Some adolescents get overanxious about every assignment, quiz, paper, and test. Some may become paralyzed by the importance they place on each and every school task.

    • Praise your teen's efforts as long as he or she works hard, studies often, and is doing his or her best.
    • Don't always focus on specific grades.
    • Do not compare your child with others who may be doing better in school.
    • Point your adolescent in directions where he or she excels, and then notice and comment on your child's successes.

If your child continually complains about school, find out what the problems are and work together to develop solutions.

Children who are not able to successfully manage fears and are still anxious after a couple of weeks may need professional help, such as with a counsellor.


Current as of: March 1, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics