As I chatted with a new-to-my-social-group and middle school 6th grader, words came to mind. Awkward. Self-conscious. Body-conscious. Anxious. Friends who are no longer friends. Drama. Dark moods and crying jags or just feeling “bleh.” The beginnings of attraction to other people in new ways. Parents.
As she talked, I listened. I also traveled back in time. And as I did, I remembered that I felt EXACTLY the same way. We all did. But we also all thought that no one else felt that way. No else had the weirdest of thoughts. No one else felt uncomfortable in their own skin. No one else felt sad for no reason or worried so much.
If there is anything that we can pass along to our middle school or junior high school kids, is that AWKWARD is the norm for this time of life. Please share the below with a tween or teen that you love:
It is normal to:
- Be super self-conscious about everything, including your body, or lose a little confidence in yourself right now. This is due to the changes your body going through to mature to an adult. Do the best you can to treat your body right while it goes through this major shift. Use good personal hygiene, dress in clean clothes, try to eat at least 80% healthy and move around a little for exercise.
- Have mood swings. You feel sad one minute, happy the next. Dark places and spaces are normal. What’s NOT normal is if the dark moods don’t lift and you don’t enjoy what you used to enjoy. It is also NOT normal to think about hurting yourself or other people. If you are having those kinds of thoughts, tell a trusted adult, now.
- Change friends. As you get older, you may have less in common with old elementary school friends and more in common with new ones. Everyone is trying on new friends right now. There is a LOT of group switching in middle school.
- Feel anxious. And if you are already kind of an anxious person, it is normal for it to get pretty bad right around now. You will have weird thoughts and weird worries. I had some SUPER weird ones that I share with kids this age. Try to remember this: No worry is too weird and never worry alone. If you have thoughts stuck in your head that are weird or driving you crazy, this is where a trusted adult can be helpful.
- Be attracted to other people. Some of the people you are attracted to might surprise you. This can also be a confusing time as your brain works on figuring things out along with your body. It is completely normal to feel confused or strongly attracted to a crush. A hint that we can give you is to be friends first. You may decide to take the risk to let your crush know how you feel. That is brave. It is important to understand that if your crush doesn’t feel the same way in return, that it just wasn’t meant to be and to stay friends. Believe us, there will be many people that come into your life after middle school.
- Be in conflict with your parents. It is also very normal for you to have a somewhat love-hate relationship with your parents right now. You are probably wanting more freedom and not getting it yet. You are in the middle stage of still being your parents’ child and someone who is mature enough for more responsibility. As crummy as it is, your parents are doing their job looking out for you right now.
I told this 6th-grader that I remembered the worst of it as being the middle school years and into the beginning of freshman year. I told her that by 10th grade, most of this stuff was well past and we were on to more fully become the people that we were to eventually be, with the friends that we were meant to have. Please let our young teens know that we were all once there. And even though you cannot see it in peers and friends, there isn’t one of them that isn’t experiencing the same struggles, even though it might not look like it on the outside. Every middle schooler, and we do mean every, is feeling awkward on the inside.
Have a middle-schooler that could benefit from even more advice and tips? Check out our book for tweens and teens, available for FREE through Friday in the Kindle version.