The entrance into middle school is perhaps one of the toughest transitions children encounter in all of their years of education. It presents numerous challenges to the new sixth grader who is leaving the familiar and comfortable environment of the elementary school for the unknown world of middle school with its new responsibilities and demands.
In the 1980s, the notion of using "consequences" as a means of developing and reinforcing desired behavioral patterns in children was popularized among child specialists and parents alike. The methodology was probably best articulated for the public in a landmark book called Positive Discipline authored by Jane Nelson and published in 1981. The basic approach involved establishing consequences for specific misbehaviors that were aimed at helping children experience the results of their mistakes.
Recently I had the opportunity to visit a preschool to offer some training for the teachers. After the presentation, a smaller group of us moved to the playground where we continued a more informal discussion. At the time, the playground was full of youngsters for the afternoon break. All of the sudden a young boy yelled from a few yards away, "Hey, watch this!" He was jumping off the monkey bars and pretending he could fly through the air. He was obviously quite pleased with himself, and wanted to make sure we agreed with his assessment. A moment later, a little girl who was watching the boy waved her arms at us and said "Watch, I can do a somersault," which she proceeded to do. In no time at all, a number of children could be heard saying "Watch this" or "Look at me" or "I can do that!"
When your head hits the pillow at night, do you quietly drift off to sleep with no problem? If you do, you are the envy of many of us who have quite another experience which is to contend with the deluge of thoughts and emotions that swirl around and keep us awake for some time.
One of the more common sources of frustration for parents of teens is figuring out an effective way to get them to keep their rooms clean. Sometimes this revolves around simply getting the beds made, putting laundry in the hamper, and getting the large amounts of debris cluttering the room picked up and put away. It's not uncommon for a fifteen year old boy's room to smell more like the inside of locker room, or for a girl's room to be so littered with clothes that you can't find the floor.