The “tween” life is certainly a transition for your child… They’re not a little kid anymore but they’re not old enough to be considered a teenager; they’re in that awkward middle age that appropriately places them in middle school.
Middle school is your child’s first real glimpse at growth and independence, if you think about it… There are no more breaks for recess, they’re learning their schedule and going to different classes, and the teachers are holding them solely responsible for their actions and getting their work done. So yes, they’re definitely gaining independence but in gaining that independence and growth, they’re also experiencing other physical, emotional, and psychological issues in middle school that they didn’t experience in elementary school.
As a parent, you know about a lot of the pressures kids experience in middle school because you’ve been there before but the times are different today. Some of the pressures are the same but some of the pressures kids are facing today, you never had to even worry about because they weren’t a “thing” then.
To better equip yourself and your child for the middle school pressures they’re going to be up against, take a look at these issues that both you and your child can work through together.
Academic Pressure to Be the Best Student
As a parent, you, of course, want your child to do the best they can academically but sometimes you have to ask yourself if you’re putting that pressure on them. There are parents who actually stress their kids out for enforcing that school is all work and no play. Granted, school is where you come to get an education but there’s also nothing wrong with making friends in the process.
Coming from elementary school, where the ultimate goal was to get a 100 and a smiley face on your homework and test scores, middle school is much harder than elementary school and requires a lot more concentration and focus. Once they realize that, your tween may begin putting pressure on themselves to be great.
As a parent, it’s going to be up to you to find a way to encourage them to do great in academics but also let them know that they can still do great without putting such an immense amount of pressure on themselves.
Psychology Today recommends communicating your values about achievement to your child to make sure that you or they aren’t putting too much pressure on them… when that happens it can indeed do the complete opposite of driving them to succeed and instead drive them to lose motivation.
A Drop in Self-Esteem
A drop in self-esteem that kids will first experience in middle school. Seemingly out of nowhere, things like popularity, appearance, and smarts become things that really matter to them and they start comparing themselves to others in those areas. Their self-esteem doesn’t start to drop until they start comparing themselves to others.
To add to the drop in self-esteem, their bodies are physically changing… During middle school tweens typically experience acne and if it’s bad enough, it can take a huge toll on their self-esteem. Once you notice acne breakouts, work with them on implementing a skincare routine with them. Things like preparing healthy meals and having them drink plenty of water are all ways to help fight against acne. You might also want to take them to a dermatologist as well.
The Pressure to Fit In
Even as adults, there is still a pressure to fit in within certain social groups but with tweens, the pressures are extremely high. In middle school, kids are wearing the “coolest” clothes and the “coolest” shoes but can you guess what the “absolutely most coolest” thing in the world is to a tween? If you guessed having a cell phone, then you guessed absolutely right.
To an 11 to 13-year-old kid, having your own cell phone is the epitome of cool. As a parent, you might feel a little wary of it but you also have to be honest with yourself too… in this day and age, and the frequency of school shootings, your child not having a cell phone is pretty dangerous.
You giving your child a cell phone doesn’t mean that you have to spend a few grand on it. In fact, you can shop pre-owned Apple or Samsung phones and pay a fraction of what it would cost you for a new phone.
The thing about it is that your child hasn’t had enough responsibility for a new phone but that also doesn’t mean that your child has to have a phone from the Stone Ages either… you can buy them a very nice, used cell phone that does everything a new phone does and is stylish… if nothing else, they’ll be part of the cool crowd for having a cell phone.