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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 identities.
     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 responsibilities.
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?”
    
Continue to 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 current events.

 

© 2004 Sioux Falls Parent Communication Network