• ADOLESCENT DEVELOPMENT
    Development Middle School and Early High School
     
     
     
     
     
    Parents are often worried or confused by changes in their teenagers. The following information should help parents understand this phase of development. Each teenager is an individual with a unique personality and special interests, likes and dislikes. However, there are also numerous developmental issues that everyone faces during the adolescent years. The normal feelings and behaviors of the middle school and early high school adolescent are described below.
    Movement Towards Independence
    • Struggle with sense of identity
    • Feeling awkward or strange about one's self and one's body
    • Focus on self, alternating between high expectations and poor self- concept
    • Interests and clothing style influenced by peer group
    • Moodiness
    • Improved ability to use speech to express one's self
    • Realization that parents are not perfect; identification of their faults
    • Less overt affection shown to parents, with occasional rudeness
    • Complaints that parents interfere with independence
    • Tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed
     
    Future Interests and Cognitive Changes
    • Mostly interested in present, limited thoughts of future
    • Intellectual interests expand and gain in importance
    • Greater ability to do work (physical, mental, emotional)
    Sexuality
    • Display shyness, blushing, and modesty
    • Girls develop physically sooner than boys
    • Increased interest in the opposite sex
    • Movement toward heterosexuality with fears of homosexuality
    • Concerns regarding physical and sexual attractiveness to others
    • Frequently changing relationships
    • Worries about being normal
    Morals, Values, and Self-Direction
    • Rule and limit testing
    • Capacity for abstract thought
    • Development of ideals and selection of role models
    • More consistent evidence of conscience
    • Experimentation with sex and drugs (cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana)
    Teenagers do vary slightly from the above descriptions, but the feelings and behaviors are, in general, considered normal for each stage of adolescence.

     
          UNDERSTANDING YOUR MIDDLE SCHOOLER
     
           Life with a middle schooler can be like a roller coaster ride!! The Middle years are full of challenges.  As children become teens, they display new attitudes and reactions that appear to come out of nowhere.  While it may seem like your middle grader is misbehaving, these qualities are actually a natural part of growing up.
       Here are some typical middle grader behaviors and suggestions for ways to handle them.
    MOODY
    One minute your child wants you to help her with her homework.  the next minute she wants you to leave her alone.
       This behavior may make you wonder what's going on.  The answer is simple.  Your child is becoming an adolescent.  Middle schoolers tend to be very moody.  One minute the are happy, the next they're angry.  these sudden moods can be difficult to predict and even harder to cope with.
    Suggestions:  The best approach parents can take is to ignore as much of this erratic behavior as possible.  Changing hormone levels in your child make it next to impossible for her to control her emotions. 
       So, what do you do?  First, keep in mind that her moods have little to do with you- and try not to take them personally.  If you don't comment, chances are they'll disappear as quickly as they arrived.  The more attention you give them, the longer they're likely to stick around.
       However, this doesn't give your middle schooler a license to walk all over you.  Tell her that you understand she's upset, but she doesn't have the right to upset the rest of the household.  suggest she go to another room if she's not feeling sociable.  when she comes out, try to forget anything happened.  She will probably forget about it, too.
     
    PRIVACY   
       Has a sign that reads, "Keep out.This means you!"  suddenly appeared on your child's door?
       It's natural for middle schoolers to want more provacy as they grow older.  They're beginning to see themselves as unique individuals who need more space.  Also, changes in their bodies during puberty may make them want to stake out an area of the house as their own.
       Suggestions:  The next time your middle grader shouts, "Just leave me alone" and slams the door, consider taking his advice.  He may be trying to say, : This room is my private area."  Having a private place can help him cool off and relax. 
       If you haven't already established rules such as "knock before opening a closed door," consider doing so.  Tell your middle grader that you respect his need for privacy and expect the same treatment in return.  Chances are he'll understand where you are coming from.  Allowing your child to have privacy doesn't mean he has complete control over the room, however.  Let him know your expectations on how the room is kept(dirty clothes in laundry basket, no trash on the floor, etc.)
     
    SENSITIVITY
       "I don't want anyone at the restaurant to see me,  I hate the way I look."
       As middle graders mature,  their bodies start changing in uncontrollable ways.  Examples:  acne, growth spurts, facial hair.  this often makes them feel awkward about their appearance.
    Suggestions:
       When your child makes negative comments about his appearance, listen to what he says.  try to avoid immediately reassuring him.  Instead, make comments that prompt him to describe his feelings.  Example: "that must be really tough."  This encourages him to open up about his emotions.
       Make your comments in a matter-of-fact tome.  Middle graders are likely to find joking and teasing hurtful, even if you're trying to be funny.
       Talk about how you felt when you were his age.  If he doesn't believe you, pull out old photos.  He will quickly see you're telling th truth.  Gently explain that his friends probably feel the same way about their bodies.  Let him know that these change will be less and less noticeable as he gets older.
     
    INDEPENDENT
       Your middle schooler seems unhappy, so you ask her what's wrong.  "Nothing," she replies.  Then, she spends an hour on the phone telling a friend about her troubles. 
       As a parent, this may feel like rejection.  For the first years of her life, your child relied on you to help her fix what was bothering her.  Now she turns to friends for help. 
       Although you may feel like you've done something wrong, middle schoolers naturally begin to form relationships outside the family.  It's part of growing up - depending less on parents to meet all their needs.
      Suggestions:
       The key to this stage of your child's life is to allow her to make more decisions about how an dwhen she does things.  But make it clear that her newfound freedom has conditions.  For example, so long as her work gets done, you'll try to stay out of her hair.  But if she stops meeting her obligations, remind her that you'll step in and take over. 
       Whenever you want to ask questions about your middle schooler's life, try to remain as casual as possible.  If your questions are too probing, she's likely to feel attacked, which may make her respond defensively.
     
    Argumentative
     
    "Why do I have to do my homework before I can talk on the phone?  I think tha's so dumb."
       If your middle schooler always takes the opposite side of your opinion, don't get too upset.  At this age, disagreeing is a way for your child to try out her growing brainpower.  Her mind has begun to reason, make decisions, and understand abstract ideas.
       Disagreeing is a great way for her to think out loud.  She's trying to separate herself from you and prove she can do thinkgs her own way.
    Suggestions
       Try to remember that no matter what you say, chances are your middle schooler will hold an opinion different from yours.  she is learning to defend her argument - a valuable skill she'll need to resist peer pressure.
       Likewise, she's trying to sort out what she likes and dislikes, from hairstyles to values.  It's also a way for her to learn the thinking behind your rules.  She's testing you to see why you hold certain beliefs.  However, it's important that your child remain respectful when expressing her views.  Explain that just because she disagrees with an idea doesn't mean she has to respond rudely.
     
    ** taken from Resources for Educators.