Ep. 178: Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond with Phyllis L. Fagell, LCPC

Mar 26, 2024 | 0 comments

Welcome to a crucial conversation that strikes a chord with every parent of a middle schooler (myself included!), and even more so for those navigating the unique challenges of children who think and learn differently. Today, we're joined by the amazing Phyllis Fagell, whose focus and expertise are on guiding children through the tumultuous middle school years.

Middle school isn't just a phase to endure; it's a pivotal time that sets the stage for future success. Phyllis shares invaluable insights into why middle school matters and how parents can empower their children not just to survive but to thrive during this critical period. From tackling homework struggles and managing distractions to understanding the complexities of social dynamics, this discussion with Phyllis in addition to her books, supports parents in setting their middle schooler up for success. So, whether you're a seasoned parent seeking new strategies or braving the middle school journey for the first time, this episode will help transform the way you navigate this transformative time with your child.

Show Notes:

  • [3:13] – Why does middle school matter? Phyllis discusses why this topic was important for her to write about in her books.
  • [4:29] – Rather than looking to help kids survive this tumultuous time, we need to seek out ways to help them thrive.
  • [5:53] – It is much harder to teach certain skills after middle school when the stakes are higher.
  • [7:26] – One concern that parents have is when middle school students wait till the last minute to work on something they need to do. This is not willful.
  • [8:58] – What could it look like to support a middle schooler with organizing their homework?
  • [10:38] – Phyllis shares some research on distractions and anxiety created by phones and devices during homework time.
  • [12:14] – Another important consideration is the difference between a teacher’s role and a parent’s role.
  • [14:39] – Creating balance and reasonable expectations is so important.
  • [15:40] – Phyllis describes some of the misconceptions kids in this age range have about themselves.
  • [17:36] – Check in with the school if something is standing out that is getting in your child’s way when it comes to homework.
  • [18:36] – There are two main ways that we do kids a disservice.
  • [21:09] – Listen carefully to why a child wants to quit something.
  • [22:59] – Why are they struggling? The answer to this question is important.
  • [24:37] – Feeling connected socially is crucial, but friendships can be hard to navigate during these years.
  • [28:31] – The lessons learned and experiences during these years are not because there’s something wrong with the child.
  • [31:20] – Phyllis’s book is a great guide for parents to help kids during these tough years.

About Our Guest:

Phyllis L. Fagell is a licensed mental health therapist and certified school counselor in Maryland. She's the author of Middle School Matters: The 10 Key Skills Kids Need to Thrive in Middle School and Beyond – and How Parents Can Help and Middle School Superpowers: Raising Resilient Tweens in Turbulent Times. Phyllis also is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post and other national publications, including CNN and U.S. News & World Report, and her ideas have been shared in outlets including The New York Times, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Chicago Tribune, and NPR. Phyllis lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and three children.

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Links and Related Resources:

Congruence App (free trial): Congruence is a self-coaching tool to help teens thrive in academics, sports, and social situations. Email service@congruence.app and mention Diverse Thinking Different Learning in the subject line for access.

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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.