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Parents Meet with Middle School Social Expert Rachel Simmons
Ruth Kornblatt-Stier

On Tuesday, April 6, Rachel Simmons, an expert on relational aggression in middle school students, met with MS parents to discuss the importance of supporting their children's social and emotional growth. Ms. Simmons began by acknowledging the singular challenge that is middle school, especially during a global pandemic. She then dove into helping parents understand the lives of their middle schoolers and strategies they can use to help both themselves and their children through this challenging period. 

“Middle school is difficult because we realize that as parents, our control over shaping their social lives is diminishing. But your capacity to model behaviors and your capacity to empathize and have confidence in their decisions is the new gift you can give them,” said Ms. Simmons. She continued on to explain that learning to be in relationships is a process that needs to be developed, practiced and failed at by everyone, saying, “Kids need to learn who they want to be as friends and who they want their friends to be.”

Ms. Simmons emphasized the importance of parents modeling good behavior for their children and empathizing with the hardships of maintaining relationships. “Your kid is learning,” she said. “Just like a math problem is hard, having friendships and relationships is hard.” Ms. Simmons stressed that “kids need to generate their own solutions to their own problems” and “build the muscle of how to think about themselves and their relationships.” To help their children do this, she suggested that parents ask questions and encourage their kids to do so as well. She also urged parents to learn to sit with uncomfortable moments, saying, “This is where the growth happens. If you practice having hard conversations with your kids, then your kids will be able to apply these skills to their own friendships.” 

Ms. Simmons ended her informative discussion by highlighting the idea that “the family is the primary school of emotional learning.” To view her full parent presentation, click here (passcode: lions1234!).

  • Middle School

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