Hudson Valley Parent

October 2013

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Is your tween a drama queen? A guide for parents on why middle school can be so dramatic By LAURA LICATA SULLIVAN T he tween years are interesting ones for both parents and educators alike. It seems middle school is the place where the innocence of childhood is replaced by the curiosity and emotionality of adolescence. There are many factors that determine if our children have a positive middle school experience or not. And I believe we can encourage them to get the most from this memorable time. Why all the middle school drama anyway? Here's what is going on: Maturing Bodies vs. Ideal Body Image Near and dear to my heart are the physical changes that occur for both boys and girls during this time. Recalling my own situation, I was one of those "late bloomer" types, forever petite in stature, and I was often teased because of it. My self-esteem was at an all-time low because I always looked like I was 9, no matter what I did. On the flip side of the coin were the girls who developed very quickly and were the subject of undesirable comments. Fast forward many years now and the situation has gotten even worse for this age group, due to the overwhelming influence of the media and Internet about what you should wear and how you must look. Throw in some hormones and emotional instability and you have a group that is a recipe for insecurity and self-doubt. In spite of all the advancements 24 Hudson Valley Parent n October 2013 with inclusion, some kids will always feel a little bit different from their peers. Karen Kellogg, principal at Bishop Dunn Memorial School in Newburgh, says, "It's important to remember that our middle school students are changing both physically and emotionally during the pre-adolescent years. For some middle schoolers these changes can be quite profound. Therefore, it's important for educators to be mindful of this metamorphosis when relating to pre-teens." Kellogg adds that educators need to meet their students where they are emotionally in order to be be supportive and helpful in guiding youngsters as they go through the sometimes difficult process of figuring out who they are. "We need to be the adults who pre-teens feel they can trust in order to help them navigate the seemingly turbulent waters of pre-pubescence. It can be both challenging and exciting at the same time." Bullying Things have changed nowadays with more and more anti-bullying content being taught at schools, and it really does make a difference. However, bullying still occurs. Gina Lallathin, a sixth grade Our readers write: "I am a proud mom of two girls — one is 17 and one is 12. There tends to be more drama with girls. My tween recently had a 'drama queen moment': she was extremely upset when she received her schedule and she is not on the same teams as her friends. As a mom, my heart breaks for her over this. I have told her this is not the end of the world, and it will work out. As her mommy, I would love to fix it and make it easier for her, but I am going to fight that urge because I know she will get through it. I remember being 12 and how I felt, and I just couldn't figure out where I fit in." — Jody Santoro Dana, Poughkeepsie "Twelve seems to be a very tough age, and 12-year-old boys can be very emotional, too." — Violet Batycki, Poughkeepsie

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