Middle school is an especially difficult time for girls. This life stage, spanning ages 11 to 13 and grades six through eight, is one of extreme transitions. Girls are moving from grade school toward high school, going from childhood to adolescence to the teenage years in a relatively short time. Physical changes, emotional growth and social upheaval are hallmarks of this phase. More than any other time in their lives, girls need adult support and guidance to come through the middle school years unscathed.
The Social Dynamic of Tweens
Also called junior high, middle school is notable for the changes in social dynamics that girls experience, often resulting in the termination of established friendships. The common interests your daughter may have had with her friends during grade school can fall by the wayside, especially if she matures at a different rate than they do. Middle school sees the rise of the girl clique and the power struggles inherent in tween girls. This is the age of the “mean girl,” and girls can indeed be cruel to one another, even if those who used to be close friends.
Physical Changes Add Complexity
The bulk of a girl’s physical maturation takes place during the middle school years, without the benefit of a corresponding level of mental and emotional development. Tween girls begin to mimic adult behaviors without understanding what they all mean. A growing interest in boys, especially when coupled with limited understanding of human sexuality, can result in inappropriate behavior or styles of dress. The onset of menses can be traumatic for girls as well. The hormonal upheaval of this period may make her moody and dramatic, upsetting family dynamics. Adults are not immune to the strain either, as parents may feel like a strange pre-teen girl is suddenly living in what was their baby girl’s room seemingly just a few weeks ago.
Helping Your Daughter through this Transition
Experts encourage parents to prepare for the extreme changes that take place during this time, so that they might be better able to help ease the transition. The realization that your daughter is becoming a young woman with developing interests and the need for a life of her own can be hard for both moms and dads, and the urge to hold on even more tightly will be strong. Support her through the many changes to come and encourage her to explore her options socially. Take things day to day and don’t panic over the inevitable changes she will undergo.
Although most girls come through the middle school years successfully, others may develop emotional trauma from bullying or other harmful experiences. If your daughter experiences mental or emotional difficulties, Havenwood Academy offers a variety of programs that can help. Contact them today for help navigating the difficult middle school years with your girl.