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10 Things Your Middle School Kid Desperately Wants You To Know

10 Things Your Middle School Kid Desperately Wants You To Know

Maybe your middle school kid is not actually aware of it, but their hormones are taking control of their bodies and minds. That is why they are so desperately unpredictable, difficult, defiant, flaunting, sulky and at times clingy. But have you, as a parent, ever wondered what is really going on inside the middle schooler’s mind and what makes them tick? Here are 10 things they really want to tell you. Are you listening?

1. I am reckless for a reason

Why does your teen ignore your warnings about scary skateboarding dares, smoking, sex, drugs and drinking? What is really happening here is that the teen’s part of the brain which controls rational decisions, the prefrontal cortex, is not yet fully developed. The thrill seeking part of the brain, the amygdala, is still in control. That means risk- taking and reckless behavior is still enormously attractive for the teen

While parents will want to make sure that their children are aware of certain limits and mortal dangers, that is no reason not to let them try out new things and take certain risks. Yes, this will probably get messy but the alternative is wrapping up your kid in cotton wool.

2. I want you to show me love

“Having kids – the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings – is the biggest job anyone can embark on.”- Maria Shriver

Parents are so often obsessed with the end goals of raising great kids, that they forget about showing them affection and love often enough. This is the view of Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist. Teens are often deprived of love and affection and feel that their bad behavior is getting far too much attention.

3. I need encouragement, but you do not mention my strengths often enough

Often, parents can ruin a kid’s self confidence by a careless, throw away remark. Having low esteem is a major problem among teens. They can feel incompetent, inadequate, ugly or unlovable. Some estimates say that about 70% of teenage girls tend to avoid daily activities (even going to school) when they are not confident about their body shape and how they look. Up to 38% of boys may start taking steroids because they are dissatisfied with their body shape.

Parents can really help by making sure that they always mention their teen’s strong points. They should also resist the temptation of mentioning a friend who happens to be perfect and that they should copy them. This can be soul destroying and may seem that you are setting unreasonable standards.

4. I need to talk to you about a few things, but will you listen?

Did you know that 48% of children and teens have experienced some form of bullying? It seems to reach its peak around the 6th and 7th grades. The most important thing is to be able to look out for some signs of bullying, such as not wanting to go to school, loss of appetite, or an unwillingness to take part in favorite activities. Bullying may not be the only issue that is causing this withdrawal.

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Teens, in spite of all their eye rolling, banging doors and sulkiness, need a shoulder to cry on or just some advice and support. One good way to encourage this is to ask and listen about what is going on at school. Try to empathize with them so that when things go badly, you are more likely to be in the loop. Also, resolve not to interrupt or offer advice straight away. Teenagers usually assume that a lack of interest on your part is synonymous with neglect.

5. I do not need to be nagged to do things all the time

You know the usual things, showering, getting up in time, tidying up, doing homework and being home by a certain time. But are you nagging your middle schooler too frequently about these? If you are, then you might be making matters much worse. Do you nag when they are watching their favorite TV show? Do you do it when you are in a bad mood or irritated? If so, you need to step back and try not to overwhelm them with these constant reminders. The teen knows he or she needs reminding but enough is enough!

6. I need my down time

There will be times when your kid just wants to chill out and play a video game in his or her own room and not be interrupted. They need this breathing space just like parents do. Many parents are just too overbearing and do not realize this.

7. I am under a lot of pressure

There are so many pressures coming at middle schoolers from all directions. There are pressures to study and compete for the best grades in the classroom and on the sports field. Then there is peer pressure to fit in with their social network, conform to certain patterns of behavior and to even look the same as everyone else! This peer pressure is not always so negative because teens can be socially stimulated or persuaded to try new activities and study harder.

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The best way that parents can help teens deal with negative or doubtful peer pressure is to make sure that their values are sound and sensible. Parents should talk to them about how to make wise decisions based on these values. It is a great way of finding out what is really going on, if your teen decides to confide in you, of course! Most teens will open up only when they are sure that they will not be criticized or reprimanded.

8. I am not getting your full attention as you are always on your smartphone

According to Dr. Jenny Radesky, a paediatrician at the Boston Medical Center, parents are not giving their kids their full attention during prime time. The reason is that they are spending too much time on their smartphones. This was observed by her and her team when studying family groups eating out at fast food joints in Boston.

This study was about young kids, but the lesson applies just as much to teens as they often feel that they are not getting full or any attention from their parents when they want to confide in them or talk to them. One great way to ensure your full attention is  to ban all mobile devices  during mealtimes. You should also ensure that when your teen wants to talk, you are not answering an email or surfing the Internet. Just turn away from the computer to give your teen your full attention.

9. I need lots of food, but I often find the fridge is empty

Teens are growing at a fast rate. They need lots of food and one great way is to encourage them to go for healthy food options rather than junk food. They are also under enormous pressure to conform to the media’s brain washing about the ideal body shape, not to mention the peer pressure about this.

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One great way to put this into practice is to ensure that there is enough healthy food available. If your teen finds the fridge empty, there is no other option but to go out and get some fast food. Why not talk about food as often as you can and also post this cheat sheet on your fridge so that all of the family is up to speed on this?

10. I cannot tell you everything

Teens need their privacy to bond with friends. They do not want to share with you what they are talking about on Instagram or Twitter. They have their own private jokes and they do not want to be asked about them. Certain limits of privacy need to be respected.

Now that you know what is going on in the teen’s mind and body and the issues that are assailing them every day, you may be able to help them more by empathizing and showing your love and affection.

Featured photo credit: Beautiful Earth (Bella Gaia) program for Middle school students from Annapolis Middle, Goddard French Immersion School / NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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