Jennifer Powell-Lunder, a psychologist, specializing in tween development, says, “Seventh grade really is the worst year ever.” At this stage, there is a simultaneous onslaught of intense academic and social pressures by their peers as well as from the adults in their lives.
These once happy and self-assured kids are now overwhelmed by uncomfortable feelings like embarrassment, a loss of self-esteem, depression, isolation, and uncertainty. It feels to some seventh graders like the rug has been pulled out from under them. It is such an unfortunate time to suffer the embarrassment of acne, new hair in new spots on your body, along with awkward growth spurts during the most self-conscious part of one’s life. These extreme changes only happen all at once in such a short amount of time in our life, during seventh grade and between the ages of zero to two.
Twelve- and thirteen-year-olds do not have all their wires connected yet. The pre-frontal lobe of their brain, which manages impulse control, predicting consequences, and forward-thinking, is not fully developed. Additionally, they undergo intense emotional, physical, and cognitive changes that bring a host of uncomfortable contradictions to the surface. They are not little anymore, and yet, they are not the bigger kids yet either. We can look at them like those experiencing the “middle-child syndrome.”
In this sea of change, relationships with their peers become way more important than what their parents think. Peers are constantly sizing each other up for the proper way to act, dress, and speak, along with the social media factor in the mix and, these kids never get a break.
How to survive 7th grade
(Words of wisdom from a high schooler)
- Seventh grade is the worst for almost anyone
- You do not have to be confident yet
- Everyone is going through the same exact thing
- Friendships will change and grow, or it will move on
- Do not let yourself be constricted to only one friend group
- Get involved with all that you can with responsible choices in activities
- Everyone has been there
- Never worry about being “stereotypical.” Everyone regrets how they acted in middle school, so don’t feel pressure to be older than you are. Instead, write that edgy poetry and draw fan art for the show you’re embarrassed to like. It’s okay to act your age.
- Just stick it out. Middle school doesn’t last forever. It will all be over before you know it, so try to make the most of it while you are there.
The best medicine for growing pains
At home, seventh-graders start to push their parents away often, all the while when they desperately need emotional support and clear, loving boundaries. Here are some suggestions from parents who have survived these tortuous years:
- Patience and empathy
Parents take note to avoid piling on. Be sure to set those loving boundaries and expectations
- Be their “fan”
Try to notice when they do something right like we did when they were little. They need it now more than ever! Tweens are desperate for their parents to see beyond their snotty attitude.
- Support what they are passionate about
This is also a year of incredible potential, so when passions are discovered at this age, they most often will lead to a lifetime of growth, learning, and career pursuits.
How To Survive Seventh Grade with Your Tween
- Do not take it personally.
- Even though it hurts when your son snubs you off in front of his friends, or your daughter shoots word arrows, recognize that it’s a reaction to something else and not directed at you. Do not engage, and do not think that by giving the same back to them they will understand how it feels and stop. This is the time to act like an adult and turn the other cheek.
- Relinquish some control
- By letting them make some choices, you lend balance to the relationship. However, sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Why am I saying no?” It may be time to reconsider if it is because of your personal preference or if you are worried about how it will reflect on you.
- Set reasonable limits
- I loosened the rules in some areas, like what shows she could watch and letting her go certain places with her friends independently but kept he reigns tighter when it came to technology usage and sleep schedules.
- Do not be a fixer
- They will learn how to take accountability for their actions and learn to overcome obstacles on their own
- Bite your tongue. This is the time when they need to develop the resilience to stand back up when life knocks them down again and again. They will see that they are capable of withstanding heartbreak, loss and grief. To discover their inner courage to take risks and make mistakes will define them and will allow them to grow in a healthy way.
Loving them enough not to save them from their own mistakes as well as not saying “I told you so” when mistakes happen because they will happen, is difficult as a parent but yet, one of the best things we can do or should I say, “don’t do”.
Help and protect the child they are still today while being willing to give them a caring push when needed so they can become the amazing adults we know they are meant to be. Life is all about balance.
“One day middle school will end and become highschool and after that it just becomes life. All those things you think are important now won’t be anymore,”. – Diary of a Wimpy Kid