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Take this checklist with you to your parent-teacher conference as a helper, mark off the items as you go.
During the middle-school years, young people are in transition from childhood to adolescence, and this can have an effect on their behavior. This phase is marked by emotional and physical growth. The onset of puberty may also make some teens unpredictable or moody and can cause them to feel out of control of their changing bodies. You can help your teen navigate through these years by taking the time to listen to his concerns and providing guidance and encouragement. Keep in mind that every adolescent develops at a different rate, leading to different social and emotional behaviors. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact his teacher or school counselor or your healthcare provider, or visit our additional resources page.
Self-awareness is knowing yourself. It’s identifying your emotions, strengths and challenges, and knowing how your emotions affect your behavior. At this age, middle-schoolers often become much more influenced by their feelings, but may not be aware of how these emotions influence their behavior.
Self-management is the ability to control emotions and behaviors sparked by those emotions. For example, a person showing self-management is able to calm down, not yell or act out, in moments of anger or frustration. Self-management is also being able to set and work toward goals, both personal and academic.
Social awareness involves having a strong sense of empathy -- the ability to understand and respect the perspectives of others -- and applying it to social interactions with people from diverse backgrounds. At this age, your teen is developing his sense of empathy and he is learning how to behave appropriately in a variety of social settings.
The ability to interact in meaningful and productive ways with others and to maintain healthy relationships with diverse individuals and groups helps contribute to a person’s overall success. During these years, your adolescent is learning more about how her feelings and behaviors affect others and gaining a better understanding of how relationships work. Your adolescent’s social world broadens as she enters middle school, and friendships, popularity and being accepted become very important to her.
Responsible decision-making is the ability to make choices that are good for you, as well as for others. It means taking into account your ethical values as well as the wishes and perspectives of others when making decisions. This piece of social and emotional development takes all of the other social and emotional skills and brings them together. Being able to understand yourself, your actions, how your actions affect others, and what is socially acceptable all go into the responsible decision-making process.
Research has shown that those with high emotional intelligence have better attention skills and fewer learning problems, and are generally more successful in academic and workplace settings. We offer the following examples as a guide to help you continue to be a strong, positive influence on your child's social and emotional growth, and to reflect your own skills in the process.