Adolescents in Middle School: Part 1

Image: Peter Ihlenfeld “Sicherheitshinweis Teenager im Haus”
Originally Posted March 10, 2010 and has been updated
By: Philippe Rey, Psy.D.

As adolescents go through the physical changes of puberty, they also must deal with a variety of psychological changes. As a parent of an adolescent entering middle school it’s a good idea to get acquainted with a list of typical behaviors exhibited by adolescents at this age.

•Struggle with sense of identity
•Feelings of awkwardness about self
•Intense focus on self , alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept
•Interest in outer appearance influenced by peer group
•Realization that parents are not perfect!
•Less overt affection shown to parents, sometimes appears as rudeness
•Complaints that parents interfere with independence
•Tendency to return to childish behavior, particularly when stressed
•Highs and lows of physical and emotional energy
•Risk taking, increased curiosity, love of danger and adventure
• Feeling easily hurt
•Need for independence yet still want to be pampered and protected
•Withdrawal from family life and desire for private life
•Demand privileges but avoid responsibilities
As you can see, middle-schoolers have a lot of emotional changes to handle, and there’s definitely a “normal” range of behaviors that coincide with this confusing time in their personal development. Part II of this series we will take a look at trends  from a National Institute of Mental Health Study and examine recent statistics from San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.