Middle School Stress!!! Yikes why Is that?????
Middle School is like the launch pad of young adulthood and comes with all the stresses, anxieties and fears of a "Challenger" launch.We have built the foundation and now we bite our nails as we anxiously wait for lift off!
These years are so stressful time for most adolescents. They must learn how to navigate a more complex social world while striving to meet the higher expectations placed on them both at home and at school. They hear more messages about "who they should be" and "what they should be accomplishing" from many around them. I had a sixth grader once tell me that you were a loser unless you went to Harvard or Yale. SIXTH GRADE!! What were your concerns in sixth grade? Mine included whether I could win at boxball (Four Square) in the playground! I never even thought about college until my junior year and even then I was not too stressed about it!
Teen Behavior Yields Clues
Behavior is a gift, I heard once. There are many different ways that our children tell us they are stressed. For instance, there are are perfectionists who try to live up to all these expectations and others who feel that they just cannot succeed, they become less motivated and start to become sullen and withdrawn. For the kids who struggle, responses can include anger, anxiety and eventually, depression. Signs can be as mixed as staying up all night redoing a project until its perfect but crying anyway OR the kids sneaking onto their computers gaming all night when they should be getting SOME homework done, and even those who just lock their doors and grunt to you. They are all clues.
Parent Worries Affect Adolescents
As parents, we worry all the time: “Do they have friends? Can they get into a good college?” How did we get so fearful? It is important to keep having conversations with your children but be aware of the messages you are sending. Are you already talking about college? Are you obsessive about their grades? Are you anxious about their social life? Is it important to you that they make varsity? As parents, we must check ourselves all the time, is this about us? Or what is best for them? Our children are VERY sensitive to our responses. Fear spreads and gives the message that we cannot handle the challenge.
This is the most important time to just listen, even if you do not like what you are hearing because your child is trying to figure out his or her world. Start engaging with them as a young adult and share your own experiences from middle school, your challenges and struggles. Most important, model for your kids through your own life experiences. Do you balance hard work, with fun, friends, and relaxation? Do you balance their needs with your own? I listened to a college professor at my son’s orientation tell us as parents that our kids are not precious, they are not spectacular, they are young adults needed to learn how to maneuver in their world and we have to let them figure it out!
My goal at Care to Connect is to promote personal growth and the strengthening of relationships, for children and their families, in a small relaxed setting. We believe that connections between family, school, peers and the local community are going to help our children through these turbulent years. They will be turbulent – maybe they already are.