For many parents, the day they become parents is one of, if not the, happiest day of their lives. Whether they’re the biological parents, adoptive parents, or other family members that have taken on the role of parent or guardian, this joy and unconditional love is something that is difficult if not impossible to describe in words. How amazing is it to see and experience a helpless baby grow up and mature into an independent adult? It’s one life experience that is a true blessing and one that many parents do not take lightly. That’s not to say that this experience isn’t without difficulty along the way; there are many. And one of the toughest yet most important difficulties of them all is navigating the strange world that is middle school.
Sending a child off to preschool for the very first time is hard enough. Similarly, sending a child, or young adult, off to college after high school after college is another tough experience. But sending a child to middle school or navigating that space while they’re in middle school can be a tougher battle than both of these things! This is true for students that attend both public schools and private schools.
Why is this? Middle school aged children face a growing number of tough changes that can make this transition difficult, resulting in stress and anxiety. While they’re far from being adults, they’re not quite children either, and this change can be difficult to understand and accept for both children and their parents. Also, many children are beginning to go through puberty at this time, which again can make it extremely difficult both parents and kids alike.
Here are a few things parents should understand about their children in middle school in order to better help them navigate this transition in the best way possible.
They care a lot about what their friends and peers think
Although young children might think the world of their parents while they’re very young, as they become older and grow into teenagers, this belief can quickly fall to the wayside. Kids in middle school place great emphasis on what their peers and friends think of them. This is a process that happens as children mature and develop their personalities in social settings. This may also lead to some out of the ordinary behavior, as children struggle with trying to fit in. A good example of this an Honors Program student suddenly focusing less on their grades on more on their friends. They may even ditch friends they were once close with in elementary school.
They tend to exaggerate
At this age, don’t be surprised when a child makes a mountain out of a mole hill. Whether it’s staring at rain like they’ve just seen it for the first time or getting upset over a social media update, tweenagers will exaggerate just about everything and anything. They often due this as a result of simply trying to figure out who they are and what they’re true personality is all while trying to develop social skills. All of this can be very confusing.
They dread public recognition
Remember how you may have enjoyed being the teacher’s pet in elementary school? Well in middle school, no one wants to be the apple of the teacher’s eye in any way. Being publicly recognized or praised for an achievement can be just as if not more embarrassing than being disciplined in front of their peers. In order to preserve their self esteem, it’s better to praise kids at this age in private rather than in front of everyone else.