They are beginning to strive for independence. For support, they form close ties with friends of the same age. When faced with new situations, middle school kids often look to friends and older siblings for examples of how to behave. Older siblings, cousins, and friends can be models of positive behavior. However, if your child starts doing everything a friend says, for example, this may be problematic, particularly if that individual is engaging in negative behavior. Middle school students need close friends. They also need to be able to express their own beliefs and preferences to these friends. This type of self-expression goes hand-in- hand with strong self-esteem, which also boosts problem solving and social adjustment. Understanding self-esteem Which of these factors contributes to developing self-esteem? ࡟ Unconditional love ࡟ Success at tasks such as athletics, music lessons, or dancing

IDENTITY AND SELF ESTEEM During the middle school years, kids feel pressure to fit in and establish an identity that’s “free” of their parents. about the consequences of alcohol use, even if he or she shows little interest. The part of the brain that controls what are considered to be “executive functions” (for example being less emotional and more reasoned, using judgment, planning, and critical thinking) is right at a critical stage of development that is not quite finished until the early 20s. The Bottom Line Adults may hold beliefs and have thoughts that simply do not exist for younger individu- als. Help your middle schooler develop bet - ter critical thinking skills by talking together


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