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Expert Video: An Expert’s Tips For Middle School Parenting

Surviving Middle School For Parents

The middle school transition is a big step—and not just for your adolescent. “For most parents, things have been going along pretty smoothly for eleven years,” says Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover. “Then suddenly, what’s been working really well will stop working and parents find that really frustrating”

Watch our video to learn how Icard recommends parents shift their approach in the middle-school years.


The middle school years are tricky for parents. Things have been going along pretty smoothly for the past eleven years in most people’s cases. And then suddenly, what they’ve been doing that works really well often stops working. So parents can find that very frustrating and one of the things that they need to understand is that the middle school years are what I like to call the middle school construction project. So kids are working on developing three things that they need to become an adult. They need an adult body, an adult brain, and an adult identity. And that sort of creates the perfect storm for a lot of change to be happening at once.

The best advice I have for parents during this time is to change their role from being a manager, sometimes they’re micromanagers, to becoming an assistant manager. And that means that they’re really letting kids take more risks and become more independent. They’re operating more as a sounding board instead of someone who is dictating how everything should be done all the time. It seems to work much better for middle schoolers.

This is a tough change to make, and I’ve been there myself. I have a daughter who’s in high school and a son who’s in middle school. So I know that it’s a really difficult change. It helps if you remove yourself and think about the best manager you’ve ever had, and some of the things they did for you. And usually what I hear parents say is that “they gave me freedom to make my own choices, they held me accountable, they communicated clearly.” Just go through this exercise of thinking about the best manager you ever had and what that was like. And then you’ve written your own job description.

(For the rest of the interview, please view our attached video)

Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work with middle schoolers and their parents at

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