Parents of middle-schoolers face new challenges, particularly because children in that age group tend to become far more interested in their peers than their parents. Research has shown that being a "positive parent"—one who is warm and open yet sets firm limits for behavior—is particularly beneficial in reducing negative behavior in children. Sylvie Mrug, a psychologist at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, suggests these five approaches:
2. Ask about the child's friends and things that interest them.
3. "Monitor" your child; know where she is and who she's with in her spare time.
4. Set limits for behavior and enforce them. For eight ways that good parents can make disciplining children easier and more effective, see this recent article in U.S. News.
5. Ask other parents how they deal with problem behavior, to see if their methods might work for your family.