Middle School Matters with Phyllis Fagell

Middle School Matters by Phyllis Fagell“Middle school,” Phyillis Fagell says, “is a stew of simmering hormones, shifting relationships and increased expectations.”

It’s also a time of massive confusion and overwhelm — for middle school boys and their parents.

Phyllis Fagell is a school counselor and the author of Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School & Beyond and How Parents Can HelpShe’s also a mom of three; her youngest son is currently in 6th grade.

While many of us view the middle school years with terror, Fagell sees them as a time of great opportunity.

The question all middle schoolers wrestle with is, “Am I good enough?” Now is the time we can build their self-confidence, competence and coping skills.

To do so, though, we need to increase our understanding and compassion. Boys often behave in ways that can be baffling to “boy moms.” Case in point: a 7th grade boy might think sharing pictures of his privates via Snapchat is a great way to bond with the guys. (Seriously. Listen in at about 8:45)

When we don’t take the time to consider our boys’ perspective, we often over-react — & alienate the very children we’re trying to help.

Middle school boys, Fagell says, love hard, care hard and mean well. They want to be funny and well-liked, but they may not yet have the socioemotional skills and experience to avoid unintentionally harming or even humiliating others.

When you understand that fact, parenting middle school boys becomes a whole lot easier. (And more fun!)

In this episode, Janet, Jen & Phyllis discuss:
  • What’s on the minds of middle school boys
  • Gender stereotypes
  • Boys’ friendships
  • Common misconceptions about middle school boys
  • Boys & body image
  • Sensitively supporting boys by validating their feelings
  • Why middle school boys are sometimes obnoxious
  • What to do if you spot inappropriate photos on your son’s phone
  • Giving boys space to discuss masculinity
  • Encouraging tween boys autonomy
  • When (& how) to involve the school in your son’s academic struggles
  • Handling students/teacher conflicts
  • Helping boys deconstruct the “man box”
  • How to use inoculation therapy to decrease the chances that your son will vape, gossip or try drugs or alcohol
Links we mentioned (or should have) in this episode:

PhyllisFagell.com — Fagell’s online home. Includes blog posts and links to her speaking schedule.

How Shame Harms Boys — ON BOYS episode

Emails & Phone Calls from Teachers — ON BOYS episode

Vaping & E-Cigarette Use: What Parents Need to Know — ON BOYS episode

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