Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale

Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale

Veteran teacher, mom, and author sharing empowerment strategies for middle schoolers and their parents to make these years wonderful, awesome, successful, and thrilling!




Have you heard yourself lately yell, “Why did you do that???” to your teen after he or she made a decision that feels completely off, weird, wrong, or terrible to you?


“What were you thinking?” is another question that these pre-emergent adults hear from their parents after making a choice that didn’t fit in well with parental thought patterns or family morals.


These just might be common questions you’ve been asking as you parent your middle schooler or teen. And, it’s okay to ask them…but, what if there was a way to break the cycle of this typical scenario: teen makes decision, teen’s decision creates a mess, parents ask the questions after the decision, teen may or may not learn from situation, parents brace for the next decision and ensuing mess.


Most teens will respond with a defensive, snarky shoulder shrug or a frustrated “I don’t know!” response when asked about their thought processes before decisions were made. They’re perplexed as well. They’re frustrated right alongside of their parents. They’re likely to get angry, too. The after-the-incident-questions are mostly likely to result in yelling from both sides. This back and forth questioning just isn’t going to work for reducing or eliminating this scenario in the future.


The truth is most of the time, teens make decisions without really thinking or stopping to think or being aware that they can think. To stop this typical cycle is to address it, provide a plan for it, and teach making-decision skills before a decision-making situation arises.


In our fast-paced world, how can parents get their teen’s attention? How can they even have a chance to enter into their child’s mind before sending them off to school to interact with the multitude of stimuli that seemingly comes at them at lightning speed? It is a daunting task, I understand, but there is hope.


The first step is to talk about decision-making when there is no mess currently going on that needs to be cleaned up. When all is calm is the best time to talk about this very important life skill. It’s important not only for the teen years, but for all of adulthood. Parents want to enjoy their adult children, who are making positive decisions. Parents do not want to still be parenting their adult children so teaching decision-making now is an investment in your parenting future.


Begin with discussing your own decision-making stories. What went well and what went sour? Why? What would you do the same and differently? How do you make decisions now? Essentially, you are evening the playing field. You are creating an environment that says, “I know it’s challenging being a teen shifting between childhood and adulthood. I understand, but I’m going to offer you a way out of the struggle. You don’t have to suffer like I did.”


Now that you are both on the same page with common ground and mutual understanding, you can teach decision-making skills. It begins with desire. What does anyone want for his or her life? Peace, joy, and love? I certainly hope so! Every decision is either going with or against one’s desire. The second part of this conversation is creating a desire statement, which can be as general or as specific as your child wants it to be right now. Discuss how this is an on-going creation as one’s desire changes with time.


I desire for a life of peace, joy, and love.

I desire a life that is filled with cooperation from everyone I meet.

I desire a life that is filled with fun, passion, and enjoyment.

I desire a life that has enjoyable people who are fun.

I desire a life that happens smoothly with positive people and fun.


Now, how do we know that these desires are occurring in our lives? It’s very simple: we feel good. Positive vibes feel good and that is the indicator that sends the message, “Yes, this is the way to go.” Yes, decision-making is about feelings and not solely by thinking. In all of my Empowering Kids: Choose, Groove, Move books, I explain this decision-making process in depth. I use this jingle: “If you feel less than great, hesitate. If it’s a good vibe you know, go!”


Here is my system:


Choose – realize that this Earth life journey experience offers a plethora of options. Choose from the vast array! Know that options abound for everything. Realize that you have options all the time. “You are never stuck. Your child is never stuck. You always have options with everything.” Talk about having options a lot and often. Put this into your daily conversation with your teen. Put it on the refrigerator. Post it on the bathroom mirrors. Write it in your child’s agenda. Surround your home with option positivity! Allow this option mentality to permeate your home, sink into your family’s psyche, and become part of your family’s philosophy. Create a culture within your home that says, “Options always abound for us.”


Groove – This is the feeling part. Once anyone has selected an option, pause to see how it feels at the Soul level. Begin a daily discussion about Soul-level feelings vs. surface feelings. When something feels good or peaceful, loving, caring, and positive, then it is at the Soul level. These decisions/options will be for the betterment of all. Even when a decision isn’t what others want, the end result is for the benefit of all. An example of this is when a decision to break up with another is a selected option and it feels good. The person on the receiving end of this decision may not like it, but in the end will be for everyone’s benefit. (See my Empowering Kids: Relationships book.)


Move – once a selection/option/choice is selected and it feels great, then it is okay to proceed.


Can’t decide? Suzy Welch, a columnist and former editor of the Harvard Business Review, created the 10-10-10 rule for decision-making. It basically says to ask oneself if a decision will feel good in 10 minutes, in 10 months, and in 10 years from now. While this applies more to adults because teens live in the moment so much more, we can adapt Suzy’s 10-10-10 Rule to 10 seconds, 10 minutes, and 10 hours from now.



My Choose, Groove, Move three-step system slows down decision-making into three simple, but important steps. It is simple enough for anyone to use…including teens. It incorporates the whole person – mind, body, and spirit, which makes it unique. We are not brains on sticks, but are integrated beings so it makes perfect sense to live as integrated beings with all decision-making. Living from and through the spiritual perspective is important for positive experiences to be drawn to us.


Talk about Choose, Groove, Move on a daily basis so that it becomes a part of the thinking process for everyone in your household. Post notes in clothes drawers, wall, mirrors, and calendars that remind of how to create positive decision for the betterment of all. Soon, you will not need to frustratingly say, “Why did you do that??” but will say, “Great choice today. How did you do that?” This is purposeful, positive parenting at its best.







“I love him! He’s my soulmate!” can be heard from someone in love. And, it’s a great experience to make this connection in such a deep way. It’s part of the deliciousness of life. But, are all soulmates the positive ones? There are challenging soulmates, indeed, that are just as important and helpful to the deliciousness of life.


Negative soulmates? Oh yes. Keeping these people in perspective greatly assists to altering one’s view of them from negative to challenging to helpful. These soulmates are just as essentials as the lovey-dovey kind. The ones who are hard to deal with are just as important as the one who are easy to enjoy.


Before we enter these bodies on life journeys, we create a plan for our lives – a guideline of sorts – because we always have free will. We agree to meet certain people at certain times for certain purposes for certain durations. These people are part of a soul group, or a cluster of beings who agree to participate in our lives. Some of these souls agreed to be the the fun, loving kind and some of them agreed to be the challenging, antagonist kind. Both are greatly beneficial.


Take a look at your life. Who is in your life? Was in your life? For how long? For what purpose? Who has spurred you onto bigger and better things? What interactions with others caused you to become more than you were yesterday, a year ago, a decade ago? These all are your soulmates in your soul group.


Please be assured that all agreements are made from complete love. In fact, it could be discussed that those who agree to be the challenging kind do so from a tremendous love. They love us so much that they agreed to be ornery, difficult, challenging, mean, ugly, and even terrible in this life so that we can progress onto something bigger and better. Since we all go through the veil of forgetfulness on our way into these bodies, we forget about the agreement made in complete love. We stumble upon these people and BAM! it’s hard.


With this kind of perspective, one can view them differently in an empowering way. A relationship breakup may just be the catalyst to finding a more agreeable life partner. A challenging teacher for your son or daughter may just be the push to produce more academically than ever thought possible or could be the avenue to speaking up for oneself. 


Since these types of soulmates are not pleasant, how to deal with them on a day-to-day basis? After all, some challenging soulmates remain in our lives for years and years such as an overbearing mother-in-law. On a day-to-day basis, you place them outside of your sphere or energetic bubble.


This bubble, or sphere, is very real. It is pertinent to realize you have a sphere in which you allow or disallow ideas, energy, people, and thoughts to enter. Realizing you have this sphere is what allows you to utilize the gate on it to decide what comes in and what stays out. While shooting darts of love to these outside-the-sphere challenging soulmates, you can still appreciate the conflict they brought to your life as an instigator to get you going forward.


Perhaps, a soured friendship due to betrayal made you focus on what you really want in life – honest friends. Shoot a dart of love from inside your sphere to the person outside of your sphere. 


To “see” one’s sphere more clearly, I recommend yoga…specifically the Warrior Two pose. The energy shoots out beyond one’s hands creating a sphere all around. You can make your sphere as big or as little as you feel comfortable. Spend some time getting to know your sphere. What is in it? What does it look like? Are there any holes in it that need mending? Who is in your sphere? Does anyone or anything need releasing to the outside? What does the energy of your sphere feel like? 


Yes, we have many different types of soulmates for different times, purposes, and lengths. Utilizing them for what they are is key for personal forward movement.




It goes without saying that the 2020 school year has already been different. The 2020 fall semester will be truly unique as well. It is important for positive mental health to appreciate these changes and all the benefits that can be derived from the changes. 


  1. Masks. For those returning to face-to-face education, think of all the germs with this inconvenience that won’t get as close to your child this school year. The usual, normal colds, flus, and strep throat issues should be very limited to nil. Makeup won’t be as important. Why wear it? No one is going to see it. Prioritizing verbal communication will occur. Having to make more of an effort to talk through a mask, one may think twice before speaking in the school setting. Couldn’t we all use some extra think time before verbalizing our thoughts?
  2. Virtual Education. What can be used with the extra time now that your child isn’t traversing the school hallways, which takes time? What career options can be researched since your child can jump out of bed and watch class in pjs? Focused curriculum time that shortens the normal education day with virtual education allows for the pursuit of other interests such as yoga as well as personal, casual reading, nature walking, and meditation.
  3. Social Distancing/Isolation. There’s nothing like difficulties to inspire ideas. When facing a challenge, one tends to create solutions. What options are there for the current state of isolation? What new ways can people connect? What about good, old-fashioned letter writing? Certainly, the isolation will prioritize authentic friends, which can be a very positive benefit, indeed.
  4. Death. There is nothing like death to create the desire for life. I have been writing for years now about taking one’s children of all ages for a stroll through a cemetery. Inspiration will be nearly automatic when reading the tombstones of those lives already lived. We still in our bodies have options remaining to create our lives. The current situation as we realize there are many souls leaving their bodies during this time of covid-19 is no different than those who died during wars, other plagues, or from normal wear-and-tear of the physical body because we all at some level of consciousness decide when to leave our bodies. We create our births and our deaths. Some of us arrive only to be here for minutes. Some of us come into bodies to be here for a few years. Some of us come here to experience life for decades. All lives are created on purpose no matter the duration. We are creators of all parts of our lives. Nothing is ever happening to us, but we create each moment. When this is understood, one can live to the fullest. To understand death, one can live. I highly recommend you and your child reading this book:
  5. Illness. What is illness? What is disease? At the heart of all illness is disease or dis-ease otherwise known as not (dis) ease or unease. It is clear what makes our bodies sick – unease. So, how can we focus upon ease? How can we take this literal global shake up to reduce stress and unease for ourselves? For others? Illness is a teacher. What is it telling you? Your child? With social distancing, virtual education, and more time, how can your child find his or her ease? These questions aren’t just rhetorical, but earnest questions to pursue and answer. What can be implanted in one’s life to dramatically increase the ease factor?
  6. World connection. Were you amazed at the global connection beginning in March with the news of covid-19? Were you amazed how Earth benefited from less human interaction? Did you see the reports of the sea turtles returning in record numbers? Did you see how much less smog there was over multiple cities? The world connection was amazing to watch. The interaction, communication, and collaboration was…amazing. If you weren’t wowed or amazed, perhaps, a new view would be warranted. We are all One. We are all spirits in bodies on life journeys trying to have the best experiences right now. Living from this perspective makes all the difference.






In April and May as summer nears, we have wonderful, euphoric wishes for what summer will hold, and many times, it doesn’t live up to the dreams. With a new school year on the horizon, what can be done to still make this summer the best one yet? What can be done to experience triumphant summer dreams?


I’m a big list-maker, list-user, and list-enthusiast so, of course, make a list of all the things achieved so far in summer 2020. With the Covid-19 issue, this will be even more satisfying because of the creativity needed with quarantining and self-isolation. Entries on this list will be quite unique from other summers, for sure.


Making this list is part of seeing with different eyes that the summer wasn’t wasted, but, in reality, much was gained, accomplished, and obtained. Did your child, middle schooler, or teen exhibit unusual or new maturity? Were dishes put in the sink this summer without reminding? Were neighbors greeted with regularity? Did your child delve into art? Intense basketball practice? Friendship? Was your child less drama-filled? Put EVERYTHING on this list. 


Next list: with the remaining time, write the desired events and activities yet to be done. Once these are identified and scheduled, you’ll have no regrets for the summer’s end. Instead, you’ll be ready fo the fall. You’ll feel fulfilled, complete. 


Here are some ideas for the remainder of the summer: 1. Painting At Home. It’s relatively inexpensive. Canvases range in price with size as well as the painting supplies. Paint a collage of summer 2020 activities! 2. Exercise. No, make it the fun exercise like creating obstacle courses using boxes and whatever is in the garage. Youtube has a tremendous variety of options. Be creative with this. Walk to the ice cream shop. Walk in a new park. 3. Explore New Areas. Been thinking about that place you went to as a child? Go and take your kids. Want to explore the downtown of your city? How can you be a tourist in your own town? Create a scavenger hunt in your town for your kids to do. Can they get a napkin from a particular restaurant, a grocery store flyer, and a rock from the river? Can they deliver cookies to a neighbor, take a picture of a bird in the park, and run around the school building two times? Oh what fun! 4. Learn Something New. Do you wish your kids knew more languages? Utilize the remaining weeks to stimulate their interest in knowing additional foreign languages. How about pre-learning for the upcoming school year such as worm and frog anatomy or chemistry? 5. Walk A Cemetery. This is a motivational walk because there’s nothing like reading about lives already lived to provide inspiration for the present to achieve. You and your family members still have opportunity to be and do. What does one really want to do in life? The present moment is THE power moment of creation. 6. Switch Sleeping Experiences. Just for fun, sleep in another’s bed while he or she sleeps in yours. Sleep in the opposite direction. Sleep outside. Sleep in a tent, hammock, or screened in porch. It’s just the break from routine that will create the fun memory. 


Triumphant summer dreams are very much still available to you. List what was already achieved. List and plan for what is yet to be done. Be creative!



Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2020

Middle School was what I swore I never wanted to teach, and yet after teaching there a few years in the beginning of my career and then spending the last nine years in the classroom with that age group, I was so wrong. I know firsthand that Lizabeth was a gifted teacher, because we actually taught in the same middle school for almost 9 years before I retired.
Today, I am still the Producer/Founder/CEO of a non-profit performing arts company, and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and using so many of Lizabeth’s successful techniques in both teaching and working with parents. Even though she wrote them with middle school in mind, they are very applicable to late elementary through high school. Middle School Years Without Tears is a book every middle school parent needs to read. In fact, I will recommend it to every parent whose child is in my company. Lizabeth sets the stage in Chapter 1 by answering some important questions parents have as their child approaches grades 6-8. “What is MS, why do we have it, who are the teachers, why do they want to teach these kids, who is a MS student, what is their (teachers and students) day like, and finally lying (to themselves, their teachers, and parents)?” Lizabeth nailed the answers and certainly will open your eyes as a parent/teacher. She said it, and I have said it to my parents over and over again, middle school is not the time to walk away from your child and act like they are adults. They may push you away, but learn how to communicate with them.
That brings me to the 2nd section of her book that I feel is critical to all situations-communication! Lizabeth addressed every person regarding communication-what to say, how to say it, and when to say it! Wow! When I think back on all those years of teaching and the conferences I had-the good, the bad, and the ugly! The bad and ugly could have been so much more positive and productive if parents and students had a guide to follow back then. Well, today you have her book! Understand how important communication is and how it can positively affect your child. Mistakes are made every day, but we all learn that positive attitudes and expectations are the way through which we can make changes. I know the world today loves texts and emails, but I prefer face to face communication with all people interested in what is best for the child. That is another reason why everything Lizabeth lays out in this book works as long as every person wants the same outcome and is willing to work to make it happen.
In the world today, when we parents(yes, I am a parent to 2 adult children, and numerous other “adopted” former students and performers who refer to me as “dad”) have to help our child(children) overcome bullying, prejudice, and lack of self-esteem, Lizabeth shows us what to say to help them understand so they can move forward learning empowerment. She also points out how important it is to listen not only to what they are saying, but to what they are not saying. Parents and teachers have a very important role to know how children see themselves. Suicide is preventable if we are in tune with our children. Lizabeth has some real insight in this book about that topic.
I have given you some examples of how this book has influenced me both as a teacher and a parent. There are many self-help books on the market but Lizabeth’s “suggestions and strategies are based upon one premise: with loving parental guidance (not dictation), parents can empower their children to positively control and direct the events of their lives for the betterment of all instead of the events controlling their lives based on the understanding of Who We Really Are.”
Thank you, Lizabeth, for again giving parents a book that will surely help make those middle years rewarding and joyful!Chuck Long,
Professional Teacher


This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences. 


Socrates had a good teaching protocol way back in the 300s BC. He encouraged learning through the questioning from his students. He drew answers out of thembecause he believed the answers were already inside of them. Socrates understood the satisfaction he could have regarding teaching was dependent on the satisfaction his students were having. It’s a symbiotic relationship: a relationship where both parties are benefit and neither is damaged.


Your child’s teachers may or may not be in synch with such a relationship. Your child’s teachers may not be anywhere near this understanding, but the fact remains, these are your child’s teachers so, how can you help your child have a positive experience with all of her teachers anyway? Here are some strategies and suggestions to do just that.



Your Student Communicates First

Encourage your child to communicate first with the teachers on his or her own before you, the parent, intervene. This promotes speaking up for oneself, learning how to communicate to a person in authority, and how to maintain positive relations regardless of a favorable outcome or not. Invaluable confidence can develop during such personal contact. The student learns to negotiate an issue, concern, or problem. A teacher may offer an alternative or compromise to the student’s request and this provides fertile soil for developing negotiating skills with others.


Before and during classes are the least effective and the least desired ways to go about communicating with teachers. Teachers are quite preoccupied at these times especially at the beginning of the lesson. It is to a student’s benefit to be wise about the timing and the approach. There are many commonsense, positive ways to do this.


  • Upon entering the classroom, a student can ask to speak to the teacher after class.
  • Upon entering the room, give the teacher a note regarding speaking to the teacher after class.
  • E-mail the teacher to schedule a time to talk.
  • Talk to the teacher during lunch.
  • Talk to the teacher during the teacher’s planning time with prior approval.


Approaching the teacher is just as important as the conversation itself. This teaches the importance of how to get someone’s attention so that what you have to say is heard well.



For additional strategies to guide your child to communicate well with his or her middle school teachers, read Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences. 




Okay…you’re LIVING the middle school experience along side of your kid. And, because of that, this book is for you! Just what is he doing all day? The facts are here…the realistic middle school descriptions written into this book just for you, the parents. As you read this book, you’ll feel like you are standing right there in the hallways of your child’s school. What is it like to be your daughter in middle school? How does she make it from class to class? The sights, sounds, AND smells are here awaiting your eyes to read…and experience.

After teaching middle school for 10 years, 14-time author, Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale brings the honest, no-holding-back truth of what it is like to be a middle schooler and a middle school teacher in today’s schools. This perspective gained will assist you to be the best middle school parent ever. With knowledge of what the experience is, you can be more understanding and supportive.

What does your middle schooler need after school? How to handle homework blues? What is personality experimentation and what are the benefits? What is the best approach when you catch your middle schooler lying? What options do you have when you find yourself in the principal’s office staring at another student’s parents over a classroom dispute? What is middle school common sense? What is the best way for you to speak about your child’s school to your friends, family, and your child? How can you guard your child from the barrage of requests to know his or her grades? What can you do about your child’s shortcomings? These questions and more are answered in this interactive book, which is packed full of useful information and strategies written by veteran educator and former middle school mom, Lizabeth Jenkins-Dale.



This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



All communication styles change with different situations and places. For example, foul language, degrading content, or yelling is not tolerated at the school setting. Grocery stores, libraries, churches, movie theaters, banks, tennis matches, golf tournaments, or football playoffs all have different expectations and allowances of communication. Schools expect polite, low-toned, and respectful communication. This needs to be understood and demonstrated in schools, thus, the importance of finding ways that allow for student communication with some stronger emotions at home.


“I want to have communication with my child, but at times it is hard. Sometimes, I am at a loss for words. Sometimes my child acts so bizarre that I don’t know what to say!”


It must be stated here to be positive and steady. Remember, you are the one not on the middle school roller coaster. Your hormones are relatively stable as compared to a middle schooler. Keep asking about your child’s day, about friends, about homework and upcoming projects, and about future plans such as what would be a good weekend activity.


Can you embrace the bizarre? It’s middle school so ask what weird things happened during the day because weird things are always happening in middle school. Ask if anyone farted, vomited, put markers, erasers, or pencils up their noses, threw gum and missed the trash can, or fell asleep during classes.


Inquire about what your child ate for lunch, who spilled their food today, who made a greenish solution from all the leftover food and drink on the food tray, and who threw a grape tomato at someone. Find out who drooled on their desks, who skipped down the hall singing “Jingle Bells,” and what boy had 15 ponytails in his hair by the end of the day. (Yes, I’ve seen all of these!)


Probe if there was a fire drill today, who drew what on their hands and arms for middle schoolers view skin the same as paper, who did cartwheels down the hallway, and who supposedly kissed whom. All these things create the magic of middle school. It really is a wonderful, awesome, successful, and thrilling place!





This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



Even though it’s important, many parents struggle with communication with their middle schooler.


“Everything seemed to change when my daughter entered sixth grade. It began at the end of her fifth grade year. I kept trying to talk with her, but she was shying away from me. She wasn’t sharing as much with me. It nearly broke my heart.”


I get it. It’s a strange phase. Middle school can be strange. It is logical, then, that talking to a middle schooler could be strange, too. Talking face to face is the number one and best way to communicate, but it may not always go well. Some situations do warrant other methods of communication. If you have talked and talked, then more talking will not be best perhaps. A unique diversion could do the trick. I have heard stories about one day all is fine, and the next day parents really do not know who or what is in the same place as their son or daughter’s skin, but it is not their child. Overnight, their precious off-spring feels alien. If talking becomes difficult or you would just like additional ways to communicate with your child, here are some alternatives. Of course, if communication becomes a really big issue, then professional help is advised.


  1. Miscellaneous Communications

Send an e-mail. Mail a letter to school for the child to be received at school. Mail a letter to where your child is ie: ex-spouse’s house, camp, or friend’s house. Put sticky notes on the mirror to be receive in the AM or after school or after practice. Place notes in the lunch bag, on your child’s agenda, or in a sports bag. Leave voice mail messages on the home phone to be received after school or on cell phone.


  1. Non-verbal Communication

Additionally, non-verbal communication can be quite useful in this situation – try using sign language. For example, use the time out referee hand signal to indicate a time out, a stoppage, or a calm is needed. This can be especially useful if there is heated communication. Using the raised pointer finger as the one moment sign is useful for when you need to pause to think. Using the palm up sign to indicate a time out, a stoppage, or a calm is needed will be understood by all. Using the thumbs up indicates approval. The peace sign, two fingers up, can show agreement. Have fun creating your own special family hand signals.


  1. Silent Conversation

Silent conversation is not only effective, but fun. Whatever you want to say is written down on paper and each person takes a turn writing something in response to the previous writing. One piece of paper, or a notebook, is used which is shared and pushed back and forth between you and your teen. Absolutely nothing is said. Everythingis written. Even laughter is written in the form of “Ha ha” or a drawn laughing face. This slows down the conversation, provides think time, and decelerates reaction time. It gives each person a chance to truly think what the other is communicating.


  1. Venting Permission

Give your child the gift of a venting session every now and then. With prior knowledge and at an arranged time, your child is allowed to vent and to say anything for about five minutes. With your parental broader view of life and understanding, you know how healthy this is, and by allowing such a communication without judgment, you are truly giving a gift to your child. Is there any speech that is off limits to you and your family such as cursing? Can this be allowed during this time? If not, do you realize the benefit of allowing no restrictions for this venting session? You will truly hear just how upset your child is if there are no restrictions.


This communication technique gives your child the opportunity to get it all out. Using the anger pillow mentioned in my first book as prescribed by your family’s set of parameters might greatly assist with this session, too. Your child will be in a better state to communicate and to be a receptive listener if the emotional explosion – an emotional release of resistance – is allowed.


Whenyougive the permission for the emotional explosion to occur, then you give yourself the gift of time to prepare for it. If it happens without your knowing or permission, you are caught off-guard. You might be thrown off by it and react negatively yourself. Everyone needs a proper time and place to blow some steam. Your middle schooler is an up-and-coming adult who is on a roller coaster with hormones raging through the body. Who could need this communication strategy more? Just about every middle schooler! Of course, this technique would then be followed up with listing many options to improve whatever brought on the need for venting.


For communication suggestions 5-10, read Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.



This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences. 


Dr. Wayne Dyer, a guru in the area of self-development, used a boat metaphor to share the freeing understanding of how to let go of the past. It goes something like this: You are the only one in a motor boat going somewhere. It’s your boat; not anyone else’s boat. It’s not your mother’s boat. It’s not your father’s boat. It’s not your sibling’s boat. It’s not your friend’s boat. It’s not the teacher’s boat. It’s your boat. The boat represents you and your life. The question is, “Where are you in your boat?”


Many people stand at the back of the boat looking at where the boat has been. They stare at the wake, the V shaped ripples the motor creates. They ponder what has happened. They ponder what would have happened if they had gone down a different stream, creek, or river. They sometimes feel regret for not having taken those paths and get stuck thinking about the choices they didn’t make.


When people are standing at the back of the boat looking at the wake and what has already happened, the question then to ask is, “Who is driving the boat?” Can a person be at the back of the boat and the front at the same time? No. The metaphor is to get people to move from the back to the front of the boat to drive their boats. Where do you want your life to go from here? Where does your middle schooler want to go from here?


I love this boat metaphor about life discussed by Dr. Wayne Dyer. One year in my classroom, I had a picture of a boat with a person on the back looking at the wake. I wrote on the poster, “Who is driving the boat? Stop looking at the past and drive your boat!” Get a picture of a boat or get a boat miniature and give it to your child as you share Dr. Dyer’s boat metaphor.What a wonderful gift to give your child. What a wonderful gift to give yourself.



The Middle School Checklist!
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