3 Tips for Staying Close as Kids Hit Adolescence

Yes, you can keep the bond strong with your middle-schooler.
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Photo by Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock.com

Stay connected. With busy schedules demanding a child’s attention, it can be tough to get quality time, says Dr. Kerry Van Voorhis, a pediatrician with Novant Health Pediatrics Symphony Park in Matthews, but it’s important to set aside uninterrupted time to talk. “Ask how things are going and actively listen,” Van Voorhis says. “Is anyone stressing you out at school or saying things that are disrespectful?’ Some kids will come right out and say it, but others are going to need to be asked.”

Have the talk. Sex is something middle-schoolers are naturally curious about, Van Voorhis says. When kids are age 10-13, parents should cover what’s safe and appropriate as far as talking, looking and touching. Be open and address questions before children search for answers on their own.

Be mindful of mental health. Check in to see if they are anxious or nervous about anything, and discuss coping skills. “Getting enough sleep, exercising, paying attention to how we’re breathing, and being mindful is important to keep our anxiety under control,” Van Voorhis says. “But sometimes you have to develop skills beyond those things.”