Source: Grosse Pointe News Online

Finding 'normal' in the middle school years

by Michael Dib

October 03, 2013

Q. What is considered a normal middle school student?

A. Many times parents are worried by changes in their middle school aged child. Keep in mind there will be many internal chemical and hormonal changes that occur during adolescence. You will experience behaviors that were not prevalent or observable during elementary school.

While each middle school student has her/his own interests, personality, and likes/dislikes, there are many developmental issues students face during their middle school years.

Adolescents are constantly struggling with their sense of identity as they move toward independence. There are several reasons why students struggle during adolescence. Middle school students often feel awkward about their bodies and may lack confidence. As a result, peer groups tend to influence interests and clothing styles. Indeed, middle school aged children can many times be narcissistic while alternating between high expectations and poor self-concept. Complicating these struggles, it is not uncommon for middle school students to create drama and build on that drama through social media like Facebook and Instagram.

Adolescents often complain parents and teachers interfere with their quest for independence and there is less outward affection shown to parents and teachers, with occasional rudeness. When stressed, adolescents tend to return to childish behavior and moodiness can occur without any observable reasons from an adult point of view.

There are probably more physical, social and emotional changes that occur during middle school than at any other time during a student’s K-12 educational career. An outgoing eighth grade student is a totally different person than the one who entered sixth grade.

Q. As a parent, how can I stay normal during an abnormal period in my middle school child’s life?

A. Just remember, you are not alone. There are many other parents who are dealing with the same issues as you. Seek out other parents and keep the lines of communication open. Share information with each other.

Keep in mind middle school students tend to share personal, social and school information with you on a “need-to-know” basis. Furthermore, don’t assume everything your child tells you is the absolute truth and totally factual.

In addition to communicating with other parents, stay connected to your child’s school. Unlike elementary school, many middle school students do not want their parents involved in the school building. Most middle schools still send out monthly newsletters and post those newsletters on the school website. Familiarize yourself with your middle school’s website for school information and teacher websites for curriculum goals, daily assignments, and other pertinent information. Also, consider chaperoning at school events and attending regularly scheduled PTO meetings.

Parenting a child is like investing in the stock market. There will be many ups and downs, all-time highs and all-time lows. And just like the stock market, if you stay the course, take many deep breaths,pay close attention to your investments and look long term, you will see overall positive growth.

Dib is the principal of Brownell Middle School and has been an educator for more than 31 years. Dib can be reached at Brownell , (313) 432-3904 or

The Family Center serves as the community’s hub for information, resources and referral for both families and professionals. The Family Center is a non-profit organization founded to promote a deeper understanding of the role of parents and others in supporting our youth to become competent, caring and responsible community members with the motto enriched communities through stronger families.

All gifts are tax-deductible. To volunteer or contribute, visit familycenter or call (313) 432-3832. E-mail inquiries: or write: The Family Center, 20090 Morningside Drive, Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236.