Going to school can be an intense experience for kids. It can be lovely for some, but for many it can be a place where they often feel unsafe and unhappy. Middle school is in many ways the period of a child’s life when they would go through the “classic” school experience. This is because of the fact that a child is old enough to have complex emotions but not so old that they are on the precipice of graduation, college and subsequently adulthood. It is a period of time where school is their only priority, and to them it seems like it will be for the foreseeable future.
What all of this means is that middle school is a place where your kid is going to start going through changes. This can manifest itself in a lot of ways. Your kid might start changing their appearance. This is usually done in order to assert more control over their body and become more independent. Essentially, they have the ability to decide how they want to look and so they will be adamant in wanting to use this ability as much as possible.
In situations like this parents often start worrying about their child. After all, parents can become used to their kid being a certain way, and during this period their children will start to change drastically. This sudden change is natural, however, and should not be discouraged. If your child starts hanging out with new people, let them. This is a period in a child’s life where they start trying to discover themselves, and while it is true that they have a long way to go, parents should try their best not to interfere unless it is necessary.
The trope of the rebellious thirteen year old exists for a reason. Kids don’t act this way because they want to, but because it is innate in their nature to start exploring the various ways in which life can be lived. They start to question the things that they have been raised to believe, and this actually has biological reasoning behind it. Their brain chemistry starts to change, and the part of the brain that is responsible for things like empathy, logic and responsible behavior actually becomes less active for a period of time. Instead, the wilder, more passionate part of the brain that is responsible for emotions starts to take up the slack which results in aforementioned behavior.
This is necessary because it allows kids to become more independent. It allows them to become more comfortable with the idea of leaving the nest so to speak. While as a parent it is definitely your responsibility to keep your child as safe as possible, it is also your responsibility to let them take the risks that they so desperately want to take. Safety is not the same as restriction. The latter can lead to a stunting of your child’s development.