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Is your tween a drama queen?

A guide for parents on why middle school can be so dramatic

The tween years are interesting ones for both parents and educators alike.

It seems middle school is the place where the innocence of childhood is replaced by the curiosity and emotionality of adolescence. There are many factors that determine if our children have a positive middle school experience or not. And I believe we can encourage them to get the most from this memorable time. Why all the middle school drama anyway? Here’s what is going on:

Maturing Bodies vs. Ideal Body Image
Near and dear to my heart are the physical changes that occur for both boys and girls during this time.

Recalling my own situation, I was one of those “late bloomer” types, forever petite in stature, and I was often teased because of it. My self-esteem was at an all-time low because I always looked like I was 9, no matter what I did. On the flip side of the coin were the girls who developed very quickly and were the subject of undesirable comments.

Fast forward many years now and the situation has gotten even worse for this age group, due to the overwhelming influence of the media and Internet about what you should wear and how you must look. Throw in some hormones and emotional instability and you have a group that is a recipe for insecurity and self-doubt.

In spite of all the advancements with inclusion, some kids will always feel a little bit different from their peers.

Karen Kellogg, past principal at Bishop Dunn Memorial School in Newburgh, says, “It’s important to remember that our middle school students are changing both physically and emotionally during the pre-adolescent years. For some middle schoolers these changes can be quite profound. Therefore, it’s important for educators to be mindful of this metamorphosis when relating to pre-teens.”

READ MORE: When is it time to take your daughter to the gynecologist?

Kellogg adds that educators need to meet their students where they are emotionally in order to be be supportive and helpful in guiding youngsters as they go through the sometimes difficult process of figuring out who they are.

“We need to be the adults who pre-teens feel they can trust in order to help them navigate the seemingly turbulent waters of pre-pubescence. It can be both challenging and exciting at the same time.”

Things have changed nowadays with more and more anti-bullying content being taught at schools, and it really does make a difference. However, bullying still occurs.

Gina Lallathin, a sixth grade teacher in Pine Bush and a mother of three, says it’s essential to deal with both sides in a bullying situation.

“I think as an educator it is important to alleviate the situation and speak to the parties involved. There is often something going on with the “bully” — something that causes him or her to bully another child. Often times, they just need talk to someone and to know that someone cares.”

According to Lallathin, a child who bullies others may have issues at home that need to be addressed.

“At the same time, the child who is the victim of the bullying must be heard and appropriate actions must be taken so the hurtful behavior stops.”

READ MORE: How to deal with mean girls

What you can do
Middle school is a training ground for building resiliency for later years and can prove to be quite challenging for most young people. It’s hard to imagine a student who will not have some issue with insecurity or a broken heart sometime during their school career.

Always encourage your children to do their absolute best and seek out like-minded individuals with similar temperaments and interests. Teach them right from wrong and praise them when they display maturity.

As a parent you are your child’s best advocate and, if something feels wrong, it probably is. Be the role model they need and remind them to always be true to themselves so they will like what they see when they look in the mirror. Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open. This will prepare them for what lies ahead during the high school years and beyond.

Laura Licata Sullivan is a freelance writer. She lives in Campbell Hall with her husband and three sons.

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