Middle School Tips: Social and Emotional Development



Middle school aged children are in a developmental stage that is referred to as early adolescence. Early adolescence (10-14 years old) is a time of many physical, mental, emotional, and social changes. The transition from elementary school to middle school can be a stressful, overwhelming time for children in this age group. Hormones, and bodies change as puberty begins. Students may be worried about these changes and how they are looked at by others. Some students may experience substantial drops in self-esteem as a result of these things. While this is more prominent in females, it is seen in males as well.

At this age, students make more of their own choices about friends, appearance, sports, studying, and school. They become more independent, with their own personality and interests. This heightened emphasis on independence may cause students in this age group to push adults for more privacy than they were previously given.

As middle school aged children experience physical, mental, emotional and social changes, their perceptions of themselves begin to change accordingly. This shift in students' sense of self is a key characteristic of their social and emotional development. By using what we know about the social and emotional development of middle school aged children, we can adjust our lessons to maximize their academic learning.

Social & Emotional Development

During Middle School, young adolescents are developing their own self-identity and their identity among their peers. 

Students are likely to:
  • Experience a withdraw from parental figures and seek other adults or friends as role models.
  • Place greater importance on friends and groups
  • Seek out their own peer groups to associate with 
  • Encounter peer pressure, the need to conform to the accepted ideas of the group. 
  • Frequently feel:
    • Social discomfort
      • Awkwardness
      • Loneliness
    • Angry
    • Sad
    • Anxious
Erikson's Stages of Development 
Identity vs Role Confusion

Students are experiencing mixed feelings about 
where they fit into society, and may experiment with 
several different roles, until they achieve a 
sense of identity.

They may experience self-doubt, embarrassment, 
feelings of awkwardness and isolation, confusion, 
and depression 

Due to these negative feelings, some students 
will turn to a path of delinquency and rebellion, 
or become paralyzed by feelings of inferiority. 

However the majority of students will become 
well adjusted to the emotional challenges posed 
during this stage, and will develop their own 
sense of ideals.


Social Media 
has become a dominant force in 
young adolescents' lives

Social Media (any site that allows social 
interaction) has given today's youth a portal 
for entertainment and communication.

It is of utmost importance that parents 
and educators understand these sites 
to encourage healthy use.

*Monitor for potential problems such as
 cyberbullying and exposure to 
inappropriate content.*


affecting all those involved

Though boys were more likely to be defined as 
bullies, these students will display school 
problems such as difficulty getting along 
with classmates, in addition to experiencing 
more conduct problems.

In contrast, the victims were more emotionally 
distressed and socially marginalized by 
their classmates.