Middle school is a transition for children, and while it can be an experience of growth and independence
, it can also be difficult for children who face certain problems associated with middle school. Knowing what your child might experience or encounter during these years can help you prepare him, and maybe even prevent certain problems from surfacing. As always, knowledge is power. Below are a few typical middle school problems your child may have to face. Make sure your tween knows that whatever his challenges might be, you'll be there to help, offer advice and work through them together.
Middle School Problems Tweens Might Encounter
Self-Esteem: Even once confident kids may experience a severe drop in self-esteem in the middle school years. Your child will compare herself to her peers, and she may decide that she just doesn't measure up to others whom she believes to be smarter, prettier and more popular. It's difficult to watch a child deal with self-esteem issues, especially when you know how wonderful they really are. Help your child focus on her talents, and find activities that she enjoys. Self-esteem may resurface once she feels like she has a core group of friends and interests that she enjoys.
Academic Pressure: They seem so young, but middle schoolers are already feeling the pressure that was in the past reserved for high schoolers. Even in middle school students hear about the competition to get into a good college, score well on SATs and other pressures. Some of this pressure comes from the school staff, other times it's well meaning parents who place it directly on their kids' shoulders. Resist the temptation to push your child to the point that he or she can't enjoy the middle school experience, because they're so concerned about success or failure. They still have a lot of growing up to do, and they don't need anymore pressures than they already have. Save the college talk for when they're in high school. You'll be glad you did.
Drama: Bullying and other antisocial behaviors tend to peak in the middle school years. It can be a tough time for kids who are on the receiving side of bad behavior. In popular kids can be bullied or made to feel badly by others. Girls can be particularly cruel. Be on the look out for mean girls, frenemies and bullies, and arm your child with ideas on how to deal with them, who to turn to for help, and how to move on.
Temptation: Middle school may be the first time your child decides to experiment with smoking, drinking, drugs and other dangerous behaviors. There's no one right way to prevent your child from making a terrible mistake, but having frequent conversations about what's right and wrong, what's dangerous and why, and what you expect and hope for your child is certainly a good start. It's also very important to know what's going on in your community by staying in touch with other parents, and by keeping yourself in the loop at your child's school.
Disappointment or Rejection: Is there a tween who doesn't experience a broken heart at some point during the middle school years? Doubtful. It's hard for a parent to watch their child experience puppy love, and the heartache that goes with it, but if you're child hasn't known rejection or disappointment yet, he will. You can help your tween put it all into perspective to help ease the pain, and find distractions to take his mind of his troubles. Before long, all will be forgotten, and your tween will have moved on.