Education: The Middle School Years (who am I?)

As a child, I remember middle school at Masterman being a very emotional journey. It was the start of my “hormonal imbalance” that extended throughout high school. Psychology Today,, wrote “Middle school can be an very challenging social passage. It helps for parents to know some of the bruising possibilities to watch out for, and for young people to know that parents know, because then hard times at school can be shared, emotional support can be extended, and some coaching advice can be given.


At least during the first year or two of middle school, most students go through times of feeling socially insecure and emotionally vulnerable on that account. Consider three factors that can cause this insecurity.

First, there is the onset of early adolescent change (around ages 9–13) when the young person starts detaching and differentiating from childhood and parents in order to start developing more independence and individuality. Growing up requires giving up, and so some cherished old childish attachments to self and family must be let go. Now more painful distancing from parents begins. Where the 1st grader loved having parents show up at school, the 6th grader can find this public parental presence painfully embarrassing. “Mom, Dad! What are you doing here?” Adolescence begins with insecurity from loss.

Second, there is the need to form a second social family outside of home, of friends who are all becoming different they same way they are, for companionship and understanding. But peer group membership does not come free of charge. To belong one has to conform. Among the unstated but well understood requirements are: “To be one of us, you have be like us, believe like us, behave like us, go along with us, look like us, like us best, and not do better than us.” Fitting in is complicated to do. And now, as socially insecure young people strive for standing and definition, the incidence of five social cruelty behaviors become more common: teasing, exclusion, bullying, rumoring, and ganging up. Often targeted for this mistreatment are young people who are perceived as “different” from the desirable social norm, who absorb the insecurities of their attackers. Adolescence increases the incidence of social meanness as young people strive for social membership and standing.

Third, usually during the early middle school years, puberty begins as hormones drive growth to sexual maturity (the capacity to produce eggs or sperm), in the process altering physical appearance in maturing ways the young person does not control. They have to wait and see how their changing body is going to “turn out,” and what manner of body they will now have socially to work with when it comes to defining their sexual gender role. Now parents notice how the young person is more self-preoccupied with personal appearance, needs more privacy at home, takes longer times for getting ready to go out with friends, shows more particularity about dress, endures extended self-encounters in the mirror, and is easily upset by any questioning or critical comments about their looks. Adolescence increases physical self-consciousness and vulnerability to embarrassment, humiliation, even shame.

Taken together, these three factors [build] a level of insecurity that can play havoc in peer relationships at school, the major social gathering place in a young person’s life.”

How do I cope with the challenges of middle school in my own children? By implementing the same goal system for my children as we have for clients in Calling All Female Entrepreneurs. I LOVE setting goals. With my clients, we set visual goals using the Vision Board Experience. With my children, I have to expose them to different activities to find out their interests.

At the very young age of 4, my mother helped set goals. I vividly remember the day she picked out the classifieds of the inquirer (readers are leaders) to show me different careers. Although I could not read many words, I knew how to recognize big numbers. The ad clearly said I could be an engineer making 40,000 a year! From that day on, my mom prepared me to be an engineer. Quite naturally, I was a student at the High school of engineering and science. After failing the 9th grade engineering class, I decided no longer to pursue engineering. In middle school, I was exposed to Computer Science.

Like me, middle school helped my daughter set her career path. That is also my goal for my sons. Philadelphia high schools have an abundance of career paths but I need to help set goals for my sons to chose one that fits their natural abilities. How can we help counsel middle school students on a career path? #nextlevel #education #forjobopportunities

Next Vision Board Workshop: April 16, 2017 2–6 at the Juvenile Justice Center with Covered in Business hosted by Karima Roepel of Ambrosia Food Group to fund raise for United Ummah of Philly. RSVP @