Every phase of a kid’s life has unique cultural changes. But you can’t discover everything you need to know about the culture of childhood and adolescence in a book. By the time a book is printed, culture has changed.
The only way for you to learn some of what you need to know is to go to their movies, read their books, watch their TV shows, follow their favorite celebrities, listen to their music, and most importantly, show up where they show up. From time to time, you might even find yourself at a middle school football game, or a high school play. Think of it as research.
There are other changes in a kid’s world that are much more predictable than cultural change. Every phase has its own predictable crisis. These crises help shape our identity because they give us an opportunity to navigate new challenges.
In middle school, preteens challenge authority and personalize what they believe. The way a middle schooler resolves the “Who” questions of life determines the framework for the middle schooler’s relational stability. It affects the way they see themselves, the way they see the world, and the way they see themselves in the world. In these phases, the relational questions shift from black-and-white to grey. The answers are no longer the same for every kid, so they need to be personalized. The best way to resolve a middle schooler’s relational questions is to affirm the middle schooler’s personal journey.
Practically speaking, here’s how to do that:
Who Do I Like? (… And Who Likes Me?)
Sixth graders need an overdose of acceptance to combat the storm of changes. When adults recruit other affirming leaders and peers, kids gain stability.
Who Am I?
Seventh and eighth graders are increasingly self-aware and self-conscious. When adults acknowledge positive qualities and strengths, kids discover uniqueness.
This is why kids and teenagers need adults who will discover their world. They need adults who understand and respond accordingly to the crisis of every phase.
When you understand the crisis of every phase, you respond with relationships that meet a kid’s most basic needs; and you give kids a healthy foundation for future relationships. Relationships bring clarity. Relationships create a safe place to resolve who we are. When kids see themselves the way a loving adult sees them, it changes how they see themselves.
This content was contributed by Phase. Discover all the resources available for your middle schooler in the Phase store.