Category Archives: Middle School

Valentine’s Day in Middle School: Drama!

                               “If you were a Transformer, you’d be Optimus FINE.”

Valentine’s Day in middle school is pretty much exactly as you imagine it: awkward, drama-packed and hormone-fueled. Navigating the holiday can be tricky for middle schoolers, especially for those in their first year out of elementary school. Because middle schoolers have five or more different classes, it just isn’t feasible to give a Valentine to every student in your child’s grade. Most schools solve this dilemma with candy grams that can be purchased or a Valentine’s Day dance. This means that the main topic of conversation at the lunch tables in the days leading up to February 14 is who-likes-who and who-is-going-to-the-dance-with-whom.

Eleven to fourteen year old kids can feel incredibly stressed and anxious around Valentine’s Day. Due to the wide range of maturity levels in middle school, some students are thrilled at the idea of having a boyfriend or girlfriend, while others are overwhelmed at the thought of a romantic relationship. There are also the inevitable hurt feelings when feelings are unrequited or an invitation to a dance is turned down. You can assist your child with the navigation of these socially choppy waters by sharing your own middle school experiences so that your child can begin know that they are not alone in their experience.If your child really wants to give Valentines to close friends, one suggestion is to mail them so as to avoid any hurt feelings at school.

Pro-Tip: If your child is in a school club or afterschool sport or activity, suggest that they bring a treat for everyone in the group as a way to bring back the sweetness of the elementary school all-inclusive style Valentine’s Day.  And again, share the holiday with the people at your child’s Middle School who offer daily assistance: the school nurse, attendance office personnel, librarians, and PE coaches.

If Valentines Day is causing you stress, let’s talk about it! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                              Jeri

‘Bye Summer, Hello School!

August is like the Sunday of Summer – bittersweet. I hope all of you had a wonderful summer break filled with fun, laughter and joy. And now its time to think about school starting up again. The transition from the lazy days of summer to the scheduled days of school resuming can be difficult for students.

Some students can’t wait to start school while others are a bit less enthusiastic. The following are strategies that may help your child transition smoothly to the new school year.

1.) Start a sleep schedule that reflects the weekday routine a few days before school resumes. Teens especially love to sleep late so help them adjust gradually by suggesting they set their alarms twenty minutes earlier each day until they are back to their school schedule. Expect a great deal of grumbling and empathize as much as possible – it isn’t easy to say good-bye to summer.

2) Create a family calendar. List each family member’s activities and events as well as holidays and celebrations. Try to stay on top of all the information sent by your child’s school. Write down all important dates and return any paperwork that needs your signature.

3) Schedule a family meeting to re-establish after school routines regarding when and where homework will be done. Also, establish rules about extracurricular activities: who is responsible for sports gear? who is responsible for clean uniforms?

4) Create a summer closure event to end the season on a positive note and celebrate all of the wonderful possibilities of a new school year. Plan a special dinner, BBQ, or activity to mark the event.

5) Assess your child’s feelings about the upcoming school year. If your child expresses  feelings of dread about returning to school, this is something to look into further. Schedule a visit with your pediatrician to rule out any physical conditions. The next step is to talk with your child’s school counselor or other mental health professional.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about all that needs to get done to be ready for the new school year, let’s talk! I can offer you strategies to make the transition from summer time to school successful and smooth. Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                      Jeri

Teach Your Child How To Be Assertive

Parents will often share with me that their child relayed an incident that occurred at school that was upsetting for their child. Usually the situation was a friend said or did something that hurt their child’s feelings. Parents will tell me that don’t want to step in too soon to fix the problem and that they prefer their child stand up for themselves. The only problem is: their child is unsure what it means to be assertive.

The concept of boundaries is central to the concept of assertiveness. It is important to talk with your child about assertiveness and appropriate personal physical and emotional boundaries. Teaching your child about assertiveness and boundaries involves teaching children about respect for themselves and others.

A beginning strategy for learning to be assertive and have appropriate boundaries is feeling comfortable using an “I” message.  This is a basic format:

I feel ______________________(fill in the blank with a word that describes your emotion)

When _____________________(describe the other person’s behavior)

I want _____________________(explain what you would like the other person to do)

Practice Situation: You are trying to tell a friend something important and another friend keeps interrupting you.  I message: I feel______________when_______________and I want_________________________________.

Practice Situation: Your friend demands to copy your homework because she didn’t do her own because she spent all last night watching YouTube videos. You worked really hard on your homework and it took a long time to complete. I message: I feel_____________               when__________________ and I want ____________________________.

Being assertive is a skill that takes practice. But once your child understands what it means to stand up for oneself and has a strategy in place to be assertive, it is becomes easier and easier.

If you would like to learn more about how to teach your child to be assertive, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                        Jeri



How To Assist Your Child To Discover A Passion

A child is thriving when he or she is making academic progress as well as leading a full and happy life outside of school. One aspect of non-academic life is discovering what your child  truly loves to do and providing opportunities for your child to pursue this passion. And just as we teach children how to learn, we need to teach them how to pursue a possible new passion.

To discover a passion, a child needs time to sample an interest as well as work through the challenges that are innate to learning a new skill. Allow your child to choose a non-academic activity that sparks their interest. In addition, ask your child to make an agreement with you that he or she will give this new activity a sufficient amount of time to allow for some mastery of this new skill. Much of the joy of a passion is the feeling of, “I am good at this!” – but that emotion can only be obtained through time and effort.

Parents can create a supportive environment by taking a true interest in their child’s activity. Learn the rules of the sport that your child loves to play or take your child to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for the fabulous dessert that your child wants to bake. Let your child see that you believe their passion has true value.

Parents should strive to allow their child’s interest to belong to them. Fight the urge to fantasize about how your child’s interest will look on a college application. Remind yourself that your child doesn’t have to excel at their passion – allow them to enjoy what they are doing for the sheer love of it without any preconceived goal in mind. Parental expectations are not a component of your child’s passion.

And if your child’s passion wanes in six weeks or six months, so be it. There are so many opportunities to try something new!

If you would like to talk about ways you can support your child to find their passion, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                      Jeri


Summertime Is The Perfect Time to Teach Your Child How To Set And Meet a Goal

The ability to set a goal for one’s self is an important skill. Goal setting is empowering because it provides a focus and a true sense of accomplishment when the goal is met.  Teaching your child to set a realistic goal is giving the gift of knowing how dreams can become a reality. 

In addition, setting realistic goals are an important aspect of beginning a new school year. But, due to the stress and anxiety that often accompanies a new school year, it is beneficial to teach this skill prior to the first week of school. Children and teens also need time to learn how to set a goal and to practice this skill. So lets starts now, at the beginning of summer, with some fun and attainable goals.

Basic Steps to Goal Setting:  Be S.M.A.R.T., make your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.              

 Specific:  Define what is important to you; what do you want to accomplish?

Measurable: Include precise amounts or dates so you when you have met your goal.

Attainable: Your goal must be realistic and one that you can attain.

Relevant: Your goal must further you in the direction you want to go in.

Time-Bound: A deadline is essential so you know when to celebrate your success!

And of course: choose a reward for when the goal is met 🙂

The following are examples of summer goals that can be used for practicing the skill of goal setting:

  1. “I will only spend  __________ minutes on my computer each day of July.”
  2. “I will see two movies at the movie theatre by August 1st. 
  3. “I will learn to cook one thing each for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the month of July.
  4. “I will read _____ books by September 1st.”
  5. “I will try a new activity four times before September 1st.” 
  6. “I will make plans with a friend at least once a week (or once every other week) during June and July.”

Help your child to break down a goal into manageable parts. For instance, the goal of reading “X” amount of books can be broken down into the following steps:  choose a day to go to the library or bookstore, choose the books, decide how many minutes per day will be spent on reading, decide when each book should be finished. 

Help your child choose reasonable rewards: a family picnic or a special family outing, an evening trip to a favorite ice cream store, a new pool toy, etc. You want to show your child how good it feels to reach a goal!

Then, the week before school begins, you and your child can choose 1 or 2 goals for the month or semester. For example, “I will use my alarm clock to wake up in the morning” or “I will write down all homework assignments in my planner.”  Keep in mind that all goals needs to be realistic and attainable. Goals are great because they help us to stretch and grow in new ways. 

If you would like to learn more about teaching your child about goal setting, I’m here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or email me at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                   Jeri