Real Talk     Home     K-12    

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.

More Real Talk

  • How to prevent cyberbullying with technology

    Who is at risk and what you can do

    Cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent among children and teens, as young people now spend more time on phones, computers and digital devices. About 6 in 10 teens have been bullied or harassed online, according to Pew Research Center. read more »
  • Teenage Period Cramps

    How much pain alerts to medical conditions?

    More often than not prevailing period stigma holds adolescents back from expressing concerns about severe menstrual pains. Experts say that debilitating cramps are not normal and might be caused by underlying medical problems like endometriosis. read more »
  • Mother Shares Her Journey with Heroin-Addicted Daughter

    Read the gripping new book about this family

    September is National Recovery Month and one mom has shared her journey with her daughter struggling with addiction. read more »
  • Learn How to Help Your Struggling Adolescents Navigate Change and Overcome Anxiety

    Parenting expert Erica Komisar has a new book that can assist you

    Adolescence is a notoriously complicated time for kids as well as their parents. Plus, the epidemic of mental health disorders in young people has made parenting today even more challenging. But it’s not too late. Parents of adolescents can still have a profound impact on the health and well-being of their children. read more »
  • How to help high-achieving students manage stress

    Tips and insight for parents

    School administrators at Howard County Public Schools (HCPS) in Maryland were surprised to learn that high-achieving students wanted to get rid of class rank—a measure of student success that weighs higher-level classes differently when calculating grade point average. The class ranking system created an unnecessary burden, students said, and discouraged them from taking the classes they really wanted. read more »
  • Tips to keep your teen active in lockdown

    Physical activity is more crucial than ever

    Wintertime isolation during Covid makes physical activity even more of a challenge, but it’s important for everyone, especially teens, to get the blood flowing, here are some helpful tips. read more »
  • Best uses of downtime for teens

    Does your teen feel better after downtime or worse?

    All downtime is not created equal. Some is more restorative, some not so much. Learn how you can help your teen rest well. read more »
  • Teen attitude blues

    Why is my teen depressed and what can I do about it?

    The teen years can be distinctly difficult for a variety of reasons, particularly if your teen has a bad attitude. Here are some ways you can better understand and help your teen. read more »
  • How mindfulness can help your stressed teen

    Everyone take a deep breath. You all will feel better

    Teens report more stress than adults, a fact that will surprise no one. This article includes some helpful ways to cope. read more »
  • How do I know what boundaries to set for my teen

    Definitely not easy to pick your battles

    Teens are hardwired to test limits. This article includes some helpful tips on how best to meet the challenges or to let things go. read more »