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What should I know about child development? What emotional changes and challenges should I expect in my middle school student?

Students between the ages of 10 and 13 are in a unique stage of development that can cause them to experience many changes at the same time. The physical changes often begin first, followed by the mental/emotional and social ones. As these changes take place, your child may become increasingly more challenging to communicate with and even be around at times. The typical areas that are impacted during this developmental phase are as follows:

  • Physical. During adolescent development, a hormonal imbalance occurs which can lead to drastic mood changes.

  • Mental/Emotional. Your child will also struggle to be more independent during this phase. He/She may withdraw at times and may not want to talk to you about all that he/she is feeling.

  • Social. Adolescents have a strong need to belong and to be accepted. Friends are extremely important to them at this stage and often times the thoughts and opinions of this peer group can be more meaningful to them than those of their parents.

Research studies show that some children at this age may begin to "act out" and display behavior problems. Adolescents who are having a particularly hard time adjusting may be called "trouble makers" and/or said to have "attitude problems."

Parents can help during this phase by actively working to build positive, supportive relationships with their children.

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