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.

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and others who feel that they just cannot succeed, they become less motivated and start to become sullen and withdrawn.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.

Just Listen

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.

Carol Passmore


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

CareToConnectCt.com September 24, 2012 at 07:46 AM
Amelia, thanks for your input and Clarification to our readers about listening. It is the best gift we can offer our children at this age.It validates their need to find their own voice and they will "try on" on few voices before they truly find their own. They need us for that task. A suggestion I make to parents as their children go through this is to "reframe" what they heard from their child to see if they heard right and then before going any further ASK their child what they need, a response from us or just to listen. It further validates their "voice" and contributes to the changing balance of the relationship. This takes time and patience!
CareToConnectCt.com September 24, 2012 at 07:54 AM
I agree that the need to provide time for homework after school is a sad statement of the times we live in and that completing homework becomes a struggle that is challenging for students. We are trying to provide is a safe nurturing place to come together with peers to talk about the stresses and challenges common to a lot of middle school kids with the benefit of helping each other complete the homework in a stress free environment. The world we live in has changed and we will need to find new ways to give our children the connections they so sorely need.
Kendall L Owott September 28, 2012 at 05:12 PM
The middle school at one time gave homework time recommendations. If your child can’t get the homework done within that time frame and you’ve tried teacher meetings, etc. you might consider diagnostic help or tutoring or parent help but the total time including the tutoring should be within the teacher-recommendations. If, despite your best efforts, your student can’t complete the homework in the recommended total time, you might consider moving the student down a level if possible, starting with the biggest time sponge. Kids develop at different rates and they could improve later. Monitor actual study time spent. Ultimately, if your kid can’t get the work done in the recommended times and is not getting all A’s or B’s, you’ve got to make it known that if your child is a C or D student, that’s what they are at this point but you still love them and mean it. In today’s economy, a happy child who grows up to be a plumber or is a physical therapist could grow up to be a happy, well-paid adult with little unemployed down time. Wearing a suit or having a title doesn’t mean much if you are not happy or out of work. If your friends or your child’s friends make your choices painful, get new friends.
Anne E. October 16, 2012 at 08:29 PM
at a time when many young adults are pulling away from their families and connecting with their peers it is a crutial point for parents to hang in. every person, young or old, just want to know they are loved and that someone wants what is best for them. Not enough families spend quality time together anymore. We are all in a hurry to get more things done than could possibly be accomplished in a day. Slow done, talk with your kids. Enjoy a family dinner with your cell phones turned off. It's much more effective to be there for your kids when they are having issues if you had a healthy relationship from the start. So, listen a lot, love on them and remember what is was like when we were there age. And if your child is unable to deal with the pressures and you can't help them, get help from a qualified person who can.
CareToConnectCt.com October 17, 2012 at 01:00 PM
Anne, I so agree with what you say, we as adults need to model what is important in life and show kids that living stress free is an option. Talking and listening to our children is so important (without phones and IPADS around!!) Just a simple thing as dinner with family talking about their day goes a long way. Even when they roll their eyes and seem disinterested, they are not. They need us during these years more than ever!!


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