Contributed by Renee Birch, LCMHC and NC Licensed School Counselor

Is your middle school age child experiencing any of the following:

  • fluctuation of energy and fatigue
  • wanting to know the relevance in learning
  • showing varied interests
  • a concrete thinker
  • sensitive at times
  • self-conscious
  • fluctuating moods
  • wanting more independence
  • sensitive to peer-pressure
  • spending more time alone
  • changing interests, needs, and priorities
  • pushing boundaries

Here is the good news, this is typical middle school development.  The physical, intellectual, emotional, and social growth during this stage is tremendous and varies greatly. You might notice this when attending events at your child’s school or within your child’s friend group.  Some of these changes are difficult for middle school students.  Think about your child’s growth and then consider the growth that occurs in their friends, classmates, and others they may interact with throughout their day. This can be a contributing factor in the frustrations your child feels.  The middle school day is full of learning academic material, navigating the social scene, and expectations/responsibilities.  Add feeling self-conscious to that mix makes middle school even more challenging.  You may be seeing that in behaviors at home such as withdrawal, irritability, and sometimes behavior outbursts.

Parenting during this time can be described like a roller coaster ride, terrifying at times and full of excitement. 

In my discussions with middle school students, I am reminded of what amazing individuals they are.  Helping middle school students on their journey of self-acceptance, understanding the social scene, exploration of the world around them, and mastery of skills is the best job, one I feel blessed to have.

There are many great resources for parents that I recommend for parents to help them on the journey of parenting.

  • Middle School Makeover by Michelle Icard
  • How to Talk so Teens Will Listen & Listen so Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
  • The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Frances E. Jensen, MD
  • Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by Michelle Icard