Who is this young person living in your home? The one who seems as
mercurial as the weather? Yes, the early teen years leave many parents
shaking their heads - or shaking in their boots. The changes come fast and
furious for twelve to fourteen year olds, and for their parents.
Understanding the behavioral and emotional turmoil people in this age group are
coping with may help parents ride out the storm. They may even become the
anchor their child needs during this turbulent time. Children this age:
They can go ballistic over their self-image.
Friendships change with great frequency as they search for their own
This transitional age brings great stress, which can lead to verbal temper
tantrums as a coping method.
The need to belong to a peer group increases.
They are unsure of their self-image due to often rapid physical changes.
They still need parental affection - but refuse to accept it in public.
They are easily embarrassed by their parents' actions.
They see faults in their own home life when they compare it to others.
Their connections to their friends grows stronger through using the
Internet and the phone.
Day to day (sometimes minute to minute!) mood swings are common.
They experience feelings of disorganization.
It is a time of rapid, yet uneven physical growth.
Remember: These years of turmoil - just like the storms which rip through the
plains - will pass one day.
Parenting Styles for the Middle School Years
When your child
was in elementary school, you probably made most of the decisions about
his life. You may have set rules about bedtime, when he could go out to
play, and when he had to do his homework. Now that your
child is in middle school, he needs a less heavy-handed approach. Part of
his job is to begin to assume control over his own life and
To help your
child become more independent:
Offer more privileges, but always tie them to responsibility. When your
child acts responsibly (completing chores, doing homework on time,
behaving respectfully), he should get more freedom. When he does not,
he’ll have to forgo his “adult privileges” until he is ready.
Offer more guidance, less direction.
When your child has a problem, try not to say, “Do it this way.” Instead,
say, “Have you considered this?”
connect with your child. Yes, your child is growing into his own person.
Yes, his friends are very important to him. But you are, too. Your child
needs to know he has your love, care and respect. Show you value his
newfound maturity by asking his opinion on grown-up topics, such as