Understanding Jr. High: Is it Possible?


by Adam Clarke

The most frequent question that I receive from parents would have to be; What is
happening to my child? In one, big, giant word: CHANGE! In the next two years, your
child will begin to change physically, intellectually, socially, emotionally and spiritually-just to name a few.

All of these changes can be brought back to three main questions:
1) Who am I? (personal identity)
2) Do I matter? (significance)
3) Why am I here and where am I going? (purpose)

These three questions deal with their identity, significance, and their purpose in
life. The following are five areas that you as parents will become very accustomed with
during your youthʼs jr. high years.

Physical Changes
• Puberty begins
• Growth spurts
• Increased attraction to the opposite sex
• Physical skills are maturing, but they will still be clumsy

All of these changes will cause them to become very conscious of their
physical appearance, but these rapid changes are perceived to be a change to
their identity. They will need to learn to differentiate between their inner and
outer changes.

Intellectual Changes
• Understand abstract facts which leads to the drawing on conclusions
• The word ʻwhyʼ returns to their vocabulary as they begin to question everything
• New hobbies creep in as they search for their identity and the allowance for the
freedom to experiment
• Grades might lower as rapid growth changes can cause memory loss, and major
life changes will also cause a dip in their school work

Social Changes
• Friends become more important
• Increase peer influence
• Strong popularity complex
• Search for independence
• Wants to be an adult, but they are not there yet
• Critical of others (tattletaler)

Reassurance and encouragement is the only way they will exit their comfort
areas. This will be the most difficult transition for both you, the parent, as well as
your youth.

Emotional Changes
• Become more expressive
• Experience ʻupsʼ and ʻdownsʼ at the drop of a hat
• Extreme emotion
• Feelings become identifiable to them
• Self esteem is a constant struggle
• Unable to hide emotions
• Fixate on emotions rather then rational thought

Spiritual Changes
• Question faith they had during childhood
• “Because the Bible says so” is no longer acceptable as an answer to them
• Can apply spiritual principles to everyday life
• Looking for ways to experience what they have been taught
• Strong sense of self-awareness causes them to become sensitive about sin

This is a strange time for your youth, but a very important time for parents as this
is the life stage where your child will grow into what they will become. Patience
will be the key, but once they grow out of this stage, the benefits will be
phenomenal.

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