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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Middle School Brain on Adolescence

Educators describe middle school as the years that count the most. Students are either prepared for high school and the bigger world, or they can be left behind. An award-winning television series from the 1980s, chronicling the life of a boy from middle to high school, described them as “The Wonder Years.”

Parents say they are the hardest years yet.

Eleven to 14 year-olds are still figuring out who they are and testing
boundaries. She’s argumentative. Her friends know everything, or
so it seems. Teachers are suspect. Yet parents, even though their kids
are loathe to admit it, still have a lot of influence.

This search for individual identity causes many children to push
their parents away. Friends and other adults become preferable
sources of information. Parents feel unwanted and unneeded. A lot
of fighting and yelling fills the home.

The obnoxious behavior masks a painful self-consciousness. The
middle school child wants desperately to be cool and also obsesses
about fitting in. If his friends have long hair, he wants long hair. In
middle school, it’s all about the here and now.

Here’s the science behind the developmental changes you will see in your child.

Their Brains – Parts of the adolescent brain are still developing and will
continue to do so well into their twenties. Your kids may become:

• Impulsive
• Forgetful
• Argumentative
• Volatile
• Oblivious to consequences

Their Relationships – Children pull away from their parents and look
toward others for support. You will see that:

• Friends become more important
• Parents become less important
• They look to other adults for support
• They form new friendships and may let others go
• They exclude others from the group by bullying or other tactics

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