Just as middle school youth are growing physically, they are also changing intellectually, emotionally, and behaviorally.It is important to remember that a cognitive trait present in most middle school youth is that they are not concerned with the future, but rather the present. Middle school youth tend to fail to think about consequences prior to their behaviors. Therefore, when a teen approaches you and states, “I really had no idea I would be in this much trouble,” he or she is probably telling the truth because he or she failed to think ahead.
Erikson’s Psychology Theory suggests that middle school adolescents are in the stage of “Identity versus Role Confusion.” Adolescents at this stage are most concerned with finding the right clique to hang out with at lunchtime. This comes with their search for their identity. Think back to your teenage years and imagine walking around all day with a massive zit on your face and everyone is staring at you. Does this remind you of your adolescent years? This can sum up the life of adolescents because youth are completely self-conscious of what others think about them. At this stage in their lives, they are willing to compromise in order to be accepted.
Emotionally, young adolescents are sensitive and dealing with the stress of constant hormonal changes. They are transitioning into adulthood and dealing with the loss of their childhood. Usually, females are more willing to share verbally about their emotional changes than males. Adolescents need a parent’s love – nurturing and patient – when dealing with these emotions.
A parent must be conscious of the mood changes and the sensitive, argumentative states a youth enters during their younger adolescent years. Like a younger child having a tantrum and seeking attention, a young adolescent may tend to argue and roll their eyes at you; both of which are signs of attention seeking. Younger adolescents need a lot of support during their years of transition and change. When a youth feels a lack of attention during his or her young adolescent years, he or she may fall into negative thought processes and show signs of depression.
Parents should be concerned if they see any signs of odd behaviors such as superficial cutting, crying, isolating, withdrawing, and excessive sleeping. Other abnormal behaviors youth may exhibit are aggressive behaviors (hitting, punching walls, excessive use of profanity, threatening to hurt others), binging, purging, and use of drugs and alcohol. Severely odd behaviors for young adolescents are severe aggressive behaviors (fights that require medical attention), alcohol poisoning, suicidal gestures (deep cutting, reopening wounds, overdosing, etc.), running away, and gang involvement. It is important to know the signs of when your youth is exhibiting abnormal behavior and to seek professional help from a Therapist or Psychologist. As a parent, it is important not to be in denial of your child’s change in emotions and to not hesitate on seeking professional help for your child if necessary.