These young people in middle school have stress in their life. They may have negative thoughts or feelings about themselves. Their bodies are changing and that is stressful. They may have family problems such as separation or divorce of parents. They may have issues with their friends. Hanging with the wrong crowd can be stressful. Some may live in unsafe environments. They make take on too many activities. Others live in poverty, or their families are facing financial or medical problems. If they have to change schools, this can be a major stressor.
2. Drinking and Drugs
Today about 21% of kids admit to drug use and 41% report drinking. Those who abuse drugs and alcohol demonstrate higher rates of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. About 30% of adolescent suicides are attributed to depression which is aggravated by drug or alcohol abuse.
Middle school is the apex of the mean environment. Adolescents are anxious and they look for some sense of control. Putting someone down gives them a sense of power. They have not yet developed the part of the brain that helps them evaluate cause and effect. They don’t have the ability to recognize the damage you are causing to a person.
Middle school youth with positive self-esteem feel confident and capable. They value themselves, and their abilities. They are proud of the things they can do. When kids feel confident and secure about who they are, they get into less trouble and have a mindset toward growth.
It is a challenge to communicate with middle schoolers. Even if the youth does not communicate with you, talk to them as much as possible. They take time to be comfortable speaking but the more you speak to them, the easier it will become, and you are keeping the lines of communication opened. Model good listening skills-give them your undivided attention- no phone or iPad. Use good body language and talk about what body language is- middle school youth might not know too much about body language. Ask the middle schooler their opinions and listen to them.
6. Cyber addiction
This is an addiction where a person has a compulsive need to spend a great deal of time on electrical devices (computer, Phone, iPad or tablet. This can affect their relationships, school, or health. What you can do to help: Turn off push notifications, exit unused Apps, set up Tech-Free Zones, and put the phone in your pocket.
7. Dropping Out of School
Dropping out of school is a bad choice because dropouts are more likely to struggle throughout their adult lives. Data shows they earn significantly less money than those who stay in school and graduate high school and college. There is a direct correlation with lack of education and incarceration. Staying in school allows the youth to perfect basic skills needed to succeed in life.
8. Violence in Schools
In the last decade 284 kids were murdered due to school violence. Over the last 15 years, concerns regarding school violence has dramatically increased. Create healthy discussions and have the youth share their feelings and concern. Focus on reducing bullying.
9. Time Management
The pressure to succeed in every area of life and knowing how to manage time to do it all is a challenge. Effective time management allows youth to complete more in less time, because their attention is focused, and they are not wasting time. Efficient use of time reduces stress as students check off items from a to-do list.
More youth at this age are obese. They spend more time in front of the TV, laptop, or phone. They need to learn about exercising and proper nutrition. Preventing obesity involves regular physical activity, a decrease in saturated fats, a decrease in sugar consumption, and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption.
To explore these issues with the youth you work with visit the ARISE website: