Having two children in middle school, I see so many different changes that for me, appear to occur overnight. As both try to figure out where they belong in the world while they deal with their own changes within themselves. Peer pressure in middle school seems to be over the top as if you are not on the A or B team or in certain activities and/or have the coolest whatever was popular yesterday, can certainly put a damper on someone’s existence. As we all know adolescence is a time of continued neural maturation, specifically within stress-sensitive limbic and cortical regions. (Romeo, 2013). When puberty starts for some, it seems to be an instance of popularity as they look mature. They may look mature but they are still the same kids as they were a few months back.
Navigating through middle school, it seems to be a fine line between wanting to fit in but also what is the price to do so. And middle schoolers can be extremely mean to each other sometimes. Just trying to fit in on a daily basis can be hard and very stressful. My son who is so easy going, very laid-back kind of guy, was getting anxious which I did not see much of until last year. As he was getting a bit more anxious last year, I suggested he speak with one of the guidance counselors at his school. Eventually, he did and during those “talk-therapy sessions, which thankfully, seemed for him to be able to resolve some of the issues that he was dealing with. The guidance counselor and he himself, not only talked through some of the issues but came up with some ideas for coping strategies. (2018) This did not solve everything, but it helped.
As 6th grade was coming to an end, my son was relieved but as the middle of August was approaching, I was starting to notice, he was not himself again and looking a bit more uneasy as September was approaching. As school did start, I was noticing, during drop off in the morning as I look through my mirror in the back, my sons’ facial expressions were changing and seem to have that stressed and anxious look. Each day, I would see this, but what I was observing was how he seemed to be preparing himself to cope with the challenges of his day’s events. He seemed to shift in the back seat and have a few sighs of big breath’s as he looked out the window to scan and see who’s passing him by and to see if this would be a good spot to drop off or wait a few more seconds or two as certain kids go by. “His adrenaline that liberates the energy source of his norepinephrine was rising as his epinephrine aroused his body to provide readiness to keep his energy and mental alertness while he enters through the doors of the middle school. (PSU WC L5, p. 2, 2018) As an adult, I know stress happens to all of us, but as my son is an adolescence and this stage in his life represents a stage in development when both of these aspects of stress are in flux.” (2013) He is learning to cope with his own stress factors and figuring out the best way to do it.
As we are winding down September and entering into October, he seems not as nervous and anxious as he was at the beginning of school. I can still see him scanning for kids but he now says nothing and doesn’t have that nervous, stressed look as he had at the beginning of September. With all the conversations we have, he has expressed to me, the teachers are actually ok and some of the peers that were in his class last year are not there and with the new group of kids in his class are actually nice. Not sure if some of the kids are maturing or he’s just staying away from the kids from last year, but I just know, he’s coming home not as tense as last year and actually happy. Or as happy as you can be as he navigates 7th grade. As of now, he only seems to be stressing and having concerns about, “mom, I have a big Math test!” Eek.
Pennsylvania State University, World Campus. (2018). PSCH424 Applied Social Psychology. Lesson 5: Health AND Clinical/Counseling: [online lecture notes] Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942493/modules/items/25002499
Romeo, R, (2013) Barnard College of Columbia University. The Teenage Brain: The Stress Response and the Adolescent Brain: [online] Retrieved September 20, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274618/