0:00:00 – Speaker 1
nextTalk, sponsored by nextTalk.org, contains content of a mature nature. Parental guidance is advised. Welcome to nextTalk Radio with Mandy and Kim Every Saturday at 10 am on AM 630, the word. Mandy is the author of Talk and Kim is the director of nextTalk, a non-profit organization helping parents’ cyberparent through open communication. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Find our free video series and subscribe to our weekly podcast at nextTalk.org. Are you ready for the nextTalk?
0:00:37 – Speaker 2
Today we’re talking about middle school heads up. We did a high school heads up. We want to prepare you. If you’ve got a kid going into middle school this fall.
0:00:45 – Speaker 3
We have some conversations, some tips, some things to get you ready over the summer, which is a great time, yeah you know, I’ve walked my oldest now through middle school we’re finishing up and she’s going into high school next year and it’s a lot. It’s more than I thought it was going to be, but it has really helped that we were talking about everything beforehand, because then she’ll come home and ask me you know, we say that all the time, you create this culture in your home and it takes away the fear and it really has. But she’s been exposed to some things.
0:01:15 – Speaker 1
And I want to. A lot of things.
0:01:18 – Speaker 3
A lot of things, yes, and so maybe we can walk through some of those things today.
0:01:22 – Speaker 2
You know, we always talk about having a heads up mama and or a heads up person in your life that has walked the steps before you. But we also say, listen, if you don’t have an inner circle or a heads up person, we want to be that for you. So today, that’s one of the things we’re going to do. If you don’t have someone that you know in your group of friends or family that has gone through middle school, we’re going to provide some of those things that hopefully they would have told you.
0:01:45 – Speaker 3
Yes, and Holly and Kim are great for me. You know they’ve walked a couple kids through high school and now they’ve got more kids in high school. I’ve never heard my heads up mama for that, and I call them with questions. But I, you know this is great for middle school because they are. It is their first time that they’re exposed to really big things, and I mean that by you know. Yeah, they could be exposed to sex or even suicide in elementary school, but in middle school they know kids who may be having sex or they know kids who may be suicidal. So it’s a very personal now.
0:02:16 – Speaker 2
That’s so true.
0:02:17 – Speaker 3
It’s a very personal thing.
0:02:19 – Speaker 2
So, you know, the basis for everything we do is creating that culture of conversation, that ongoing, constant conversation where you can talk about anything, and it is going to be imperative that you either get that and going before middle school, like this summer. If you have not, and maybe people are thinking, well, how do I start that? You know, we’ve got a great show about it.
0:02:40 – Speaker 3
Yeah, yeah, you can do creating a safe place. We did a show on that a while back. But you know you really want to instill in your kids, when you hear a new word or phrase or see one online, that you’ll come home and ask me like I’m your source. I’m going to be. You know, I don’t want you asking your friends, I don’t want you to be searching online Like I want to be your source of information and just setting that up in your home. That’s so critical, even at an early age. I mean you can start that in kindergarten.
But if you haven’t started it yet, take this summer and really dive into that and kind of create that you can crawl in bed with your kid at night and, you know, ask them what can I do better? Am I a good listener? You know those are always good questions. Kind of open up the conversation. You don’t tell me. You could say you don’t tell me a lot about what you see online or hear from friends and I want to change that. You know middle school is going to be rough and I want to be your source and so just kind of create that. Open up that conversation this summer if you haven’t already done that.
0:03:38 – Speaker 2
And if you don’t have a kid going into middle school, this is still going to be an applicable show for you, because things are happening earlier and earlier every single day, the phone calls that we get and the parents that we talk to. It is literally weekly. It feels like it gets pushed back to a younger age that kids are seeing things or being exposed to things or hearing things you know, kindergarten first, second grade because they’re getting access at younger ages to the online world.
0:04:03 – Speaker 3
Absolutely Some of these topics we’re going to cover today. I actually was talking to an elementary school official in another state, not from here and she’s already seen some of these things in her elementary school, and so you know it is all happening faster and faster, so it will be relevant to anyone. It’s just kind of a heads up on. These are the things that are coming.
0:04:24 – Speaker 2
We have a team member now who was getting ready to enroll her child in kindergarten and they have iPads and she went in and she was, you know, looking at them and they didn’t have any filters on them, they didn’t have anything. And the teacher was basically like, well, I’m too busy and I don’t know how to do it. And so, yes, we need to be having these conversations and preparing, because places that you even think are safe or are ready, a lot of times are not Right.
0:04:50 – Speaker 3
Absolutely. I do want to say if you have a child going into sixth grade. For us sixth grade was relatively safe. There was some exposure to things, but sixth grade was a good year for us. It really was.
Seventh grade it was really hard, and I kind of want to walk through a couple things that we started seeing and hearing. One of them was friendship changes. That happened really fast and kind of a heads up on that, because your kids really tend to get closer to the people they have classes with and a lot of times you can have a friend from since kindergarten, but then you’re choosing different things. One of you may be in sports, one of you may not go this board throughout, and so it changes your class schedule, it changes how you’re spending your time, and so prepare your kid for that and I would say, prepare your heart as a parent for that. I was not ready for that because there were families that we had invested in since kindergarten that I love and adore and they’re like family to us.
But then friendship changes happened and it wasn’t anybody did anything wrong. It just was a natural course of happening. And so prepare each other for that, and when your kid will say I don’t really hang out with this person anymore. You know. You can ask why. You can say well, give me a reason. Is there a specific reason why? Just so you can understand what’s going on? But respect that boundary that your kid is setting up, and that’s hard.
0:06:13 – Speaker 2
It is hard and creating a place in your home that’s open for this new friendship, because a lot of times we don’t like to have new people. We’re like I don’t know that person, but that’s how you’re gonna get to know their new community. You’ve got to create a space where they can bond outside of school too.
0:06:30 – Speaker 3
Absolutely. That’s such a great point, kim, because you want to open your home when your kid starts making new friends, because you get to know those kids and their parents, and their parents and it’ll well. I mean. Sometimes, In middle school. It’s just a drop off.
0:06:44 – Speaker 2
I mean the parents really don’t stay.
0:06:46 – Speaker 3
You don’t really text the parents anymore. There’s not as much of a relationship with the parents. Yeah, that’s a good point and that’s an adjustment. That’s for someone like me who likes to know the families. You know you have to make an extra effort if you want to invite this family over to your house for, like a dinner or something, but that really doesn’t happen. A lot of people don’t have time for that. So it’s a lot of yeah, it’s a lot of trusting your kid and having those conversations.
0:07:11 – Speaker 2
I think one of the tips that I love the most my husband’s in middle school and he’s a vice principal and they have like CubCamps or, like you know, newcamp, whatever they call it at your school where you get to come up and visit the middle school from elementary just to kind of get an idea of what it’s like to move classes and have a locker and you know all that kind of stuff, and he always says you just need one, and what he means by that is what Mandy is saying about friendship changes and all of that’s gonna happen and you’re gonna meet new people because it’s other schools coming in, it’s not just the one school that you come from a lot of times, and so you’re going to meet new people and you need to find that one person that is kind of like your ally.
You don’t have to have a huge friend group. You need to find someone that you can eat lunch with, someone that you can laugh with and talk with and experience this together, and so I think that’s encouraging for kids because a lot of times going into middle school they’ll tell him like, who are gonna be my group of friends? You know who are? All these people gonna be in there overwhelmed and he’s like just look for one, look for one that you connect with, and that’s a lot easier and less stressful than thinking you gotta find this whole big group of people.
0:08:20 – Speaker 3
Well, and another thing that I really tried to do is keep my kid involved in youth group so that she has friends outside of school because they snapchat they.
You know she didn’t have snapchat until she was in eighth grade, but now she does, but they connect online through Instagram, through texting, whatever in sixth and seventh grade, and so that was always a good outlet, too for her To always know that, yeah, she has her friends at school and she has that select group that she can trust and hang out with like Charles is saying that, or just that one even but also she has people outside of her school community that she can vent to, that she can talk to, that can point her to scripture even and that’s been important for us too. And if your kid is struggling in your youth group, find one where they love it. I mean, that is that’s important for your kid to be connected at this age, and that’s work to find that, to make sure that it’s not just you dragging them and making them go. You want them to be filled up, just like when we go to church. You know they need to connect with people who are Christians and can help them on this journey. So true.
0:09:27 – Speaker 2
So what are some of the other conversations that you think were most important going into middle school for you and your daughter?
0:09:32 – Speaker 3
So sex and I say that because you need to have the sex talk in elementary school and set up the foundation. And what I mean by that is not it’s not one talk, it’s a continual discussion. But you need to set up what God’s designed for that and read scripture with them. And I know we have a sex, a sexuality show. So I’m not going to go through all those scriptures because I want to touch on so many things, but all those scriptures are in those shows and so you can go back and listen to those and be prepared. But the reason I say sex is this Most middle schools have sex ed at this point and so, for one, know what your child is being taught in that sex ed curriculum.
And so for us, I love our sex ed curriculum. It’s really great. It is abstinence based, which I love. But in sixth grade my daughter was given the given the definitions of anal sex and oral sex. That’s not something that we had covered yet we had just covered God’s design for sex and we covered that around fourth or fifth grade and I was a little late in that because I had missed it. I think even you’re not in your head because you’re like, yeah, we’ve even had some basic sex talks already.
0:10:44 – Speaker 2
Before most of the kids that I know that are especially more in public school because you’re exposed to a little bit more. I think going into second grade they’re like we had to have a talk because they had been having so many conversations. Your family, your choice. Be aware that now I’d say it’s much younger when you need to set up that God’s design for sex for your kids.
0:11:06 – Speaker 3
Yeah, because they’re all online and so they all can get the information at home and then talk about it at school.
0:11:12 – Speaker 2
That’s what happens.
0:11:13 – Speaker 3
Or at church, even if you’re homeschooled. I mean, we’ve had lots of situations with that. So I would definitely you want that foundational talk to be able to go back to. And I will tell you in middle school you become around seventh grade you become a little less cool as a parent and they listen to you a lot more in elementary school, like you’re their idol. In elementary school, you’re the superhero, and I’m not saying that doesn’t always go away, but they’re more aware that their friends are cool and there’s this popularity thing going on. They’re aware of that and so set that up early and then you’ll always be able to go back to it.
0:11:53 – Speaker 2
I think that’s really good. So sex, what about? Like drugs, vaping, alcohol, all that kind of stuff?
0:11:59 – Speaker 3
It’s in middle school. It’s in middle school and, like I said, we didn’t have it a lot in sixth grade. But now that my daughter’s in eighth grade, you know, I’ve heard reports of sixth graders in our school getting busted for it. So it’s again happening, younger and younger. So I don’t want to say, oh, you’re six years going to be so safe and then you let your guard down. So you need to be having these conversations and you know we talk a lot about that. We have a drug and alcohol addiction show that you can check out. We just did a vaping show so you can know all that information. But, yes, you need to be talking to them about not taking anything from kids that they don’t know eating candy that is not an individual rapper or from somebody they don’t trust, like all of those things you need to be talking about, because there is edibles laced with marijuana in middle school. It’s happening everywhere and so just those heads up conversations.
0:12:50 – Speaker 2
Absolutely. And again, you can listen to some of our shows on vaping, on God’s design for sex, open communication and creating that safe place. We have podcasts that are available on our website. We have all the links. Just go to radio at nextTalk.org. And what about popularity? Because I remember that being huge and that was such a huge shift in middle school.
0:13:12 – Speaker 3
This is a really big one and I feel like this is something you can have a conversation about over the summer without giving too much information, because the vaping and drugs and the sex I mean yes, but as it comes up, you’re going to talk about it more and more. You know what I mean. You can bring it up, but they may be awkward about it. But the popularity one, this is something you can really get in there and talk about. I always say, I always tell my baby popularity always changes and to be popular you have to move with it and do whatever is popular at the moment. And so you’re going to be I use that Bible verse you’re going to be like tossed about in the wind. You’re going to be constantly asked to do things to maintain that status, and that status is defined by different people in different groups of people and daily.
0:14:03 – Speaker 1
0:14:04 – Speaker 3
So if you set this up for them, you don’t want them to strive to be popular because it’s going to get them into having too many social media followers. They’re going to post whatever provocative pictures they can to get as many likes. They’re going to wear whatever they want to wear to get attention. And so you need to start talking to them about popularity is not the goal. It’s not the goal and you’ll hear your kids say, well, the popular kid or the you’ll hear that and don’t don’t like cringe and think, well, why is my kid not the popular kid? Like, don’t get caught up in that.
Sometimes I’ll say, well, what makes them popular?
Like I’ll ask that question and you know she may be like well, she has this many followers or she dates the coolest kid in school or whatever.
But we talk a lot about how much stress that would be to maintain that title and that kind of helps her know that that’s not really a status that we want to achieve. Yeah, but I do talk to her a lot about people will recognize that you’re confident in who you are, that you’re your own self, that you have morals and that you have, that you know right and wrong. People will notice that it just takes them a little bit longer because you’re not in your face trying to make yourself known, kind of thing. And it’s been cool to see that play out throughout middle school because I feel like in sixth grade she did feel like she was getting lost a little bit, and even in seventh grade too. But I think now she’s, she’s coming out of, out of that and she’s like I found my people. They respect me for who I am and you. You see this confidence building in her and it’s beautiful to watch.
0:15:41 – Speaker 2
It really is. Yeah, she’s an amazing young lady. If you’re just now tuning in, this is nextTalk Radio at 10 am on am 6 30. The word nextTalk Radio is listeners supported. Everything we do here at our nonprofit to keep kids safe online is accomplished through your donations To support our organization. Go to nextTalk.org and click on give. Today we’re talking about middle school. We’re giving you a middle school heads up if you’ve got a kiddo going into sixth grade, even seventh grade, these are some great tips that you can start addressing great great conversations you can start having with your kids over the summer. Listen to some of our podcasts to go more in depth on particular topics. But we want to prepare you so you can prepare your kiddos, so they can be confident on that first day of middle school.
0:16:27 – Speaker 3
Yeah, and you know one of the things that we’re seeing a lot, and when I speak at schools, I try and find the counselors and I say to them what are, what trends are you seeing? Yeah, you know, because I want to hear firsthand. You’re on the front front lines and I know what I’m hearing from my kid. But what are you seeing as a school counselor? And I will tell you in the middle school world, the thing that I keep hearing over and over from my child and from from people in the in the environment, yes, is self-harming. Yeah, and people self-harming different ways.
You can burn, you can pull your hair out, but the major trend that we’re seeing is cutting, and it’s normally with girls, but boys are not exempt. So I don’t want you to feel like you have to take your hands off the wheel on this. It is. It is most trendy with girls. It is their go-to and they often do it because they’re stressed out. Yep, they got a lot coming at them. You know now they have seven teachers that they have to keep up with their standardized test. There’s making the team, and then you add all of the social media component that it never shuts down, like you walk through the door and if you had an embarrassing moment at school, the whole, the whole school could have seen it, because it got instagrammed or what snapchat or whatever and so all of that pressure is coming at them and a lot of them don’t know how to deal with it yeah
and so they they find a way to release the inside pain that is happening and they harm themselves. This is an issue, and by seventh grade, my daughter was, like I know, a kid in all seven of my classes personally who is cutting, yeah, and it was really rocking her world absolutely. And so you know, we talked about ways. I said, well, they’re stressed and they don’t know how to cope, and so what I need you to do is recognize when you’re stressed. You need to be able to identify why.
I am really upset right now and then find a way to handle that. It may be going into your room and crying for 30 minutes, but you just need to get it out. Or it may be you and me going on the back porch and just talking and you telling me everything you want to know, or it may just be let’s go pick up Starbucks and not say a word about anything, but this is what helps me right now, you know just finding those healthy ways to cope well and it’s great to use yourself as an example to start the conversation over the summer.
0:18:36 – Speaker 2
You know. You know sometimes I get really stressed out and here’s what I do, or have you noticed when I do and your kids love it when they can talk about you, it makes it a little bit easier for them to talk about them, and so, even with your young ones starting on that journey early, if you can, to prepare them for middle school yeah, you know so that it’s a normal operating procedure. We say that a lot, so it becomes normal operating procedure once they get to this point that they can figure out a way to either talk to you about it or deal in a healthy way with their stress and anxiety, because it just gets bigger and bigger the older they get in the school environment absolutely, and if you see your, you know if you have an elementary age child and they’re dealing with stress not in a healthy way, you need to get in there and do some work now, before they get into middle school because, like you said, it only gets worse.
0:19:23 – Speaker 3
Yeah, and we did have two shows. We did a stress show and a cutting show. And the cutting show we had a. We had a guest counselor on to kind of walk you through what that is and from a counselor perspective and so check those shows out. And and the stress show was really great because it was like really teaching your kids to cope in a healthy way from a younger age standpoint and from an older age standpoint.
0:19:46 – Speaker 2
We covered that both and a lot of times parents. They freak out, thinking about things like cutting and stress and anxiety, and so it may be good to listen to these shows to prompt the conversation in a calm way so that you’re not worried that it leads necessarily to suicide or that your child is, you know, terrible person or you know whatever it is really.
These shows, I think, will calm you down a little bit, give you some tools and tips so that you can have a calm, healthy conversation well and if you bring it up, you know.
0:20:13 – Speaker 3
If you have a fifth grader going into sixth grade, I don’t think you need to set them down and be like Some kids cut in middle school like, don’t be dramatic about it you know.
What you need to say is you know Middle school is gonna be a little bit more stressful and I need your help in identifying when you’re stressed and so we can work it out together. You’re not in this alone and then you can maybe put in a little sentence like Sometimes older kids, when they get stressed out, they may hurt themselves or not not deal with it in a healthy way, and I don’t want that to happen to you. But you don’t need to go into detail that you know they’re like cutting there and it’s a physical release because that may be a little bit too much information.
But when they Finally find somebody who’s cutting and they will eventually in middle school they will come back to you and they’ll be like you were right, mom, and that Validates you as a parent. And then they’re not as likely to write you off with your advice because you’re giving them heads up, mm-hmm, and then they’re like oh, she knows what she’s talking about in the know.
0:21:14 – Speaker 2
Yes, she is in the know, yes, yeah. Well, what about parents you are like? Well, you know, we’re not gonna allow our kid to have social media, all of that. I.
0:21:23 – Speaker 3
Have mixed emotions about this. I will be very honest. Okay, so, as a parent, I feel like social media is bad for middle schoolers. I feel like I wish the whole world would just make it a law that we cannot have social media and that it’s Regulated and you get fined if you’re like I wish we could do that. I don’t see that happening because poor law enforcement. They have way too much to handle Then regulating this right.
So my flip side of that is because my kid was exposed to porn and she didn’t have a phone. I have a different perspective of that because they’re gonna see stuff, yeah, and so I say, if you are, if you want to wait, wait. I mean, it’s your family, your choice, you know your kid better than anyone. If I hadn’t trusted my kid and we hadn’t built a relationship of talking about things they’re seeing online, there’s no way she would have had social media in middle school. But I gave it to her and it’s been a great experience for us.
She has seen things that are bad. She has brought them to me. We have had to have conversations. I’ve had to report stuff you know to Instagram to have taken down, but there is this thing of the fear of missing out when you don’t have social media. And I’m not saying you should give your kids social media because you don’t want them to be filled left out, because you don’t want to cave Into that parent peer pressure yeah no, we don’t want to do that. But they do have projects that they work on through Instagram. I mean, they do, they use it, that, it is their mode of communication. So, again, I have mixed emotions about it and I say you have to dig deep, you have to do a lot of prayer, you have to know your kid and Also just realize if you delay social media, don’t delay the conversations. Right, they’re still going to be exposed to the sexuality, the transgender, all of that stuff that’s on social media. They’re gonna hear about it from their friends.
0:23:09 – Speaker 2
There’s so many things you know going into middle school that change and get more intense and difficult. So these conversations are so good. I mean, we’ve talked so much about sharing nudes and how such a big thing, but now you have the locker room aspect, so it’s even more important.
0:23:21 – Speaker 3
Yeah, you got to be careful in the locker room, in the bathroom. You know it. Tell your kid when they’re changing for PE you need to be careful that phones aren’t out. Most schools have a rule that they’re not supposed to be out in the locker room, but I can tell you that doesn’t not get followed Kids. Their phones are everywhere.
I have seen pictures posted on Instagram within the locker rooms of kids and thankfully I haven’t seen any that you know they’re nothing’s caught inappropriate in a mirror or something. But it can very easily happen Absolutely, and it could happen like in a bullying sense or just an Not even intentional sure, where somebody’s just caught in the background and their bodies are already changing. So you need to constantly have the nude conversation about. It’s never okay to take pictures without clothes on.
0:24:07 – Speaker 2
Attitude and body changes, being able to talk to your kid about what’s normal and what’s not, so they know what to expect. And then you know some of those bigger issues like suicide. You know we brought that up earlier, just that they may have heard it in elementary but it’ll actually start happening in middle, and so having some of those conversations with them too, I mean there’s just so much coming at them. We really have to be our kids safe place. Yeah, it’s important more than ever to create that safe place. And again, we have shows Specific to so many of these topics that you can help you prepare questions and go a little more in-depth before you kind of Just bring it up casually with your kids.
0:24:42 – Speaker 3
Yeah, and I know we got a wrap up. Go check out the attitude and body changes show. That’s a big one, because attitude will rear its ugly head. There are hormones raging in your kid and how you handle that is very important Because you do not want to create a fight in the relationship and a barrier. So go check out that show. That’s a really good one.
0:25:02 – Speaker 2
I have had a few. Mama say, oh the attitude.
0:25:05 – Speaker 3
Thank you for that show. I’m so much the I roll emoji.
0:25:08 – Speaker 2
Yes, so a couple of things to leave you with. One, create a culture in your home when no topic is off-limits, and we mean no topic number. Two set up a foundational truth, or all the foundational truths, before they get to middle school. As big questions come, go back to the foundational Conversations you had in elementary school and, as always, be your kids safe place.
0:25:32 – Speaker 1
Thanks for joining us on nextTalk radio with Mandy and Kim every Saturday at 10 am On Am 6 30 the word. You are not alone trying to figure out how to parent in this digital world. We are here with practical solutions to help you. Follow us on Facebook, instagram and Twitter. Find our free video series and podcast at nextTalk. Or are you ready for the next time?
Transcribed by https://podium.page