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Middle School: Change

How to help middle school kids navigate big changes

by Karsten Friske

When we think about the word “stability” middle school is usually not the first environment that comes to mind! The changes that occur in the middle school years impact a growing adult impact every facet of life. Whether it be academically, socially, psychologically and physically – these years bring a lot of change! With so much change occurring, it can be helpful to also alter the approach of supporting middle schoolers during this time. 

The middle school years fall in a period of development that serves as a springboard to adulthood. This “jump” toward adulthood was described by Jean Piaget (a developmental psychologist) as the “formal operational” period of life where abstract thinking and logic develops. Erik Erikson (another development psychologist) offers a more straightforward descriptor of this period: adolescence. 

Adolescence is marked by an increase in trying to find new roles and deciding which roles fit. These roles can vary from having new future vocational interests, new friend groups, new music taste, and even new clothing choices. Parents and caretakers, even if the specifics of these new roles seem foreign to you, realize that supporting your middle schoolers through the process is more important than commenting on the emergence of the new roles themselves. 

So, how do you support a middle schooler through all of these changes? 

1. Give consistent love but a flexible vision

Your middle schooler’s view of their future plans may change often and drastically during this period. Although this all can come as a shock, it is important to continue loving and supporting your middle schooler as a person rather than for their shifting future plans. You can demonstrate your consistency by continuing to provide opportunities to engage in family activities and other get-togethers.

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2. Peers over parents
You may experience that your middle schooler is seeking out the guidance of peers more than you had previously encountered. Know that this is common and part of the adolescent developmental process.

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3. Alone time is my time!

Boundaries will emerge for your middle schooler in terms of physical space. As much as possible, validate and recognize this space as their own. Opportunities for growth to reflect this growing responsibility are also possible by utilizing chores specific to their room to maintain ownership of their space. 

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4. The past is in the past…until it isn’t

Middle schoolers are often hesitant to think of their younger selves and their early aspirations and dreams. They are also likely to reconsider the instruction they received in their earlier life and reconsider its value. This is all part of the new tools of logic their brains are developing, but the results can sometimes sting. Being aware that these realizations are the result of their development can help frame your responses. 

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5. Empathy, empathy, empathy! I said it three times for a reason. Even though you survived your middle school years, the experience of your middle schooler comes with its own unique challenges you may or may not have faced. Remember that your middle schooler is going through these new experiences for the first time, and so did you. We are all experiencing life for the first time, regardless of the stage, so give yourself and your middle schooler some empathy.

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If your middle schooler needs more personalized direction during this time of transition, consider our therapists at the Pursuit Counseling. We have a dynamic team of knowledgeable therapists that can help instill confidence and clarity during this time in life.

At The Pursuit, a group of experienced therapists have come together to offer best-in-class counseling services. We prioritize clinical theory, non-judgmental approaches, and effective interventions, treatment plans, and coping skills.We have therapists who specialize in different areas and we strive to find the best match for your unique needs. Our services cater to individuals, families, and organizations, including adolescents in high school. Our aim is to connect you with the specialist who can best address your concerns. Our specialized  counseling services aim to address the underlying emotional wounds that contribute to behaviors. We offer evidence-based  counseling that is effective with working many presenting problems. We provide a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on healing the past to create a healthier future. Are you ready to take the first step on your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply Book Now to start your Pursuit towards personal growth and positive change today.

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