Sometimes you might feel lost in the desert when it comes to understanding your Middle Schooler....
Think back a moment…what do you remember about your experiences in adolescence? Are these times you think of fondly? What were your greatest worries; your likes and dislikes; favorite activities; values; priorities? Who influenced you?
Biological Changes = Puberty = EMOTIONS!
• Hormones cause physical changes and emotional ups and downs.
• Not all adolescents experience these at the same time!
• Proper nutrition is ESSENTIAL for physical growth and brain development. Make sure your student is eating well.
• Males generally have higher self esteem than females; depressive symptoms are more common among girls than boys.
Cognitive Changes = Analysis = Values & Priorities
• Your student is developing and practicing higher logic. Help your student to develop problem-solving skills.
• A lack of experience in the real world limits pre-teens' ability to consider options in practical terms. Pre-teens often come up with ideas that may be unrealistic.
• Pre-teens believe they are invulnerable to harm and need to take risks to experiment with reality. Accidents are the #1 cause of death of teens.
Self-Perception = Self-Concept, Self-Esteem
• The Search for Self-Identity: Who am I? Where do I belong? Where am I going?
• Your student may be Thinking about Thinking(have you ever heard...“He’s thinking that I’m thinking that he’s thinking about her”). Your student views herself the way she thinks others see her. HOW CONFUSING!
• By now, you've probably encountered The Imaginary Audience (“Everyone’s watching me!") and the Adolescent Ego ("You don't know how it feels!"). GREAT NEWS! These are NORMAL!
• Your student may need more privacy at home to get away from the feeling of being evaluated!
• Positive relationships with family and peers relates to higher self-esteem for both males and females! Help your child stay interactive with his or her peers.
• Expect conflict within the family, but DON’T LOSE HOPE! Adolescents are more susceptible to peer influences if family ties are not close.
• Parents serve as anchors during these changes!!! They are important resources for GUIDANCE, SUPPORT, and LOVE as adolescents learn to evaluate and make their own decisions.
• “Democratic” (not politically) parents are most effective. These parents try to understand their student's point of view and take it into consideration. Let your student know you value what they have to say, but it's your decision in the end. Communicate WHY you make a decision (Not “because I said so”)—show your adolescent how to evaluate and make appropriate decisions.
• Try not to criticize, but use facts and explain mistakes. Communicate in positive and supportive ways.
• Supervision and monitoring are vital; adolescents are vulnerable. As annoyed as they may seem, leaving them to their own devices tells them you do not care (and they will appreciate you for it later in life!).