Psychology of Middle Schoolers

Adolescence is the period of psychological and social development that distinguishes childhood from adulthood. During the time that a juvenile matures into adulthood, they face a lot of age specific psychological development and changes. This article attempts to explain the psychological challenges and changes that middle school adolescents face.

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Middle school is a difficult time for adolescents, psychologically speaking. The World Health Organization (WHO), www.who.int, defines adolescence as being the period of life between ages 10 and 19 years, but most children go through the physical stages of puberty between the ages of nine and thirteen. Although the physical changes are drastic, the changes in the mind of the adolescent are just as important, and should be duly noted as an important part of the developmental process.

Maturity in the body of an adolescent leads to an interest in sexual activities. Since many teens are not emotionally or mentally mature enough to handle sexual activity, this can be worrisome to the mind of the adolescent, who may feel pressure to be 'mature', but isn't ready to handle relations with the opposite sex.

Adolescents have an especially difficult time because as children, they found their identity as part of the familial unit, but the independence of middle school encourages them to finally find their own identity. Because of the confusion they face looking for their image, they are at higher risk for experimentation with drugs or alcohol. Additionally, middle school is the age where mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, or eating disorders such as anorexia, and depression, begin to show. Since the emotions of adolescents are extremely unstable, they are also at risk for youth crime.

Middle schoolers are often in a state of confusion, as they want to act like adults, but still feel like children; they also begin to feel the pressures of complicated social interactions, especially with the onset of male and female relationships. G. Stanley Hall refers to adolescence as a time of 'Storm and Stress,'. Adolescents have increased cognitive abilities, and can now reason, theorize, and dispute on an adult level, but the childish desires of their younger years tend to cause conflict within the young mind.

In adolescent circles, many teens are unmotivated, bored, and pessimistic about their future. It is important to help middle schoolers stir up their internal fires, and develop the complex skills and dispositions necessary to be independent and socially competent. Scientists have discovered, that teen brains are changing drastically. The adolescent brain is responsible for 'pruning' the gray matter, and developing more white matter, which explains some of the erratic, illogical and emotional behavior of teenagers.

It is important to understand the psychology of adolescents, so that as a parent, teacher, or friend, you can be involved and truly understanding.

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