During middle school, teen girls grow and transition from childhood into adolescence. They experience numerous situations that they have never before confronted, such as social issues, learning opportunities, conflict, heartbreak and more. They are coming into themselves as individuals; developing their self-confidence; learning about friendships, peer pressure and boys; and dealing with disappointment and betrayal. All of these issues and more will present challenges. Even so, they will need to make a successful transition from middle school to high school and even to college and life beyond their education into their career. The following guidelines can help them successfully navigate these challenging paths.
Areas of Drama Teen Girls Might Face
- Basic issues of self-esteem – Your confident pre-teen now seems filled with self-doubt, second guessing herself at every turn. Explain that everyone goes through these struggles and encourage her to believe in herself. Focus on her strengths and minimize her weak areas.
- Friendships – You hope your daughter will gravitate toward friends who will provide a positive influence in her life. Teach her how to make wise choices when it comes to friendships and encourage her to consider cutting off friends who only bring drama or negativity to the table.
- Peer pressure – Peer pressure affects every teen, even those who seem to be the initiators of said pressure. Discuss how peer pressure can permanently affect her future when it comes to areas like smoking, drinking, drug use and sex.
- Relationships with the opposite sex – Your daughter might start expressing an interest in boys, which often begins as silly reactions with lots of giggling. She and her friends might spend time with those of the opposite sex in groups. You will need to have serious conversations with her about puberty, her body, hormones, expected physical and emotional changes, intercourse and related subjects sooner rather than later. Find resources that address the topic openly, such as material from the Mayo clinic to help you broach this sensitive topic.
- Understanding the tension between privilege and responsibility – When a girl is young, she has few responsibilities and few privileges. Until a certain age, parents choose what food she will eat, choose her clothes, choose her bedtime, choose when and how much television she can watch and more. As she matures and begins to show more responsibility regarding homework, school and making good choices, parents begin to give her more privileges. She will be able to make choices about her clothes, choose her friends and negotiate subjects like curfew and screen time. With increased responsibility comes increased privileges. However, if she breaks your trust, she will lose privileges. Understanding the connection between responsibility and privileges will prepare her for the work force.
- Dealing with disappointment and betrayal – Your daughter put her trust into a close friend, confiding deep secrets of her heart. Suddenly, she finds those intimate thoughts blasted across social media. No matter how others respond to such a blast, betrayal might well be one of the most hurtful experiences for a young girl. She will likely feel disappointed and saddened, hurt by the betrayal and the loss of the relationship. Help her understand that the betrayal says much more about her former friend than it does about her. If she remained loyal, then she is the one who will come out ahead in the long run.
- Substance abuse – Almost every parent worries about their teen and possible alcohol and substance abuse. Be sure to keep the lines of communication open and discuss this important topic, especially if your teen is driving. You can find plenty of information online.
- Academic challenges – Discuss her plans for after high school so that she will have an idea of what course of learning or work she wants to pursue after she graduates.
Read on for ways you can help your daughter when it comes to academics.
Proactive Steps for Parents to Take
- Teach your teen organizational skills – Effective organization will help her keep track of her assignments and due dates for big projects. If she struggles, provide her with more guidance. Phone apps can sometimes help with organization, or she might go “old school” and rely on a large calendar to write everything down.
- Familiarize yourself with the school and the website – You can find all kinds of information on the school via the website, such as calendar, teacher and staff bios, phone numbers, emails and much more.
- Maintain high expectations regarding attendance – Encouraging school attendance helps your daughter develop good habits when it comes to showing up at work and commitment to a job well done.
- Know school policies for discipline and bullying – While you hope your daughter doesn’t cause trouble, you should know school policies for discipline procedures. If your daughter is ever the victim of bullying, you will want to know how to protect her as well.
- Stay involved with the teachers and the school – Keep the lines of communication open with teachers and the school. Know the best way to reach educators whether by phone or by email. While most teachers respond to email, they sometimes overlook correspondence. A gentle reminder might provide the
- Know homework requirements – Some classes will have higher expectations than others regarding homework. Your daughter might sometimes need to turn in late assignments. In any case, find out what the school and class expectations are when it comes to homework and the penalties for turning in work late.
- Prepare your teen for learning – You might need to set bedtimes in place so that she gets a good night’s sleep before school in the morning. In addition, encourage her to eat breakfast so that she has the energy and brainpower to make it through the day.
- Provide support for studying – You might think about purchasing a laptop for your daughter to assist her with writing projects and research. If you don’t feel comfortable providing her with such free access to the internet, you can keep the computer in an open area in view of the family instead setting it up in her room.
- Discuss your child’s concerns – Talk freely about questions and concerns that your daughter has about school.
- Keep an open door policy – Your opinion matters, likely much more than you think. Open communication about any topic will provide your daughter with a safe place to land when she wants to talk.