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Child Development 101:
The Middle School Years
Presented by: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes
Executive Director, AllCEUs

Continuing Education (CE) credits can be earned for this presentation at

~    Review developmental tasks children accomplish at this stage
~    Examine how teens thinking patterns are different than that of both pre-teens and adults
~    Explore ways to assist teens in enhancing their self esteem
~    Review Kholberg’s theory of moral development
Kholberg’s Theory of Moral Development
~    Level 2 РConventional morality (9+ years)
~    Internalized moral standards of valued adult role models.
~    Parents
~    Media
~    Community
~    Authority is internalized but STILL not questioned???
~    Encourage independent analysis of shoulds and musts
~    Explore/discuss social problems
~    Help teens learn to embrace acceptance of people (and themselves) regardless of other viewpoints

Kholberg’s Theory of Moral Development
~    Level 2 РConventional morality (9+ years)
~    Reasoning is based on the norms of the peer group
~    Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships.
~    Desire to be seen as being a good person by others.
~    Stage 4. Maintaining the Social Order. (Only 10-15% of adults reach this stage)
~    Awareness of the wider rules of society
~    Judgments concern upholding the law and to avoiding guilt.

~    Formal Operational
~    Abstract thinking and hypothesizing begin
~    Inductive reasoning: My experiences lead me to predict….
~    Deductive reasoning: Based on a general principle, I can expect/predict
~    Teens begin to think more about moral, philosophical, ethical, social, and political issues that require theoretical and abstract reasoning


~¬†¬† ¬†Biological Needs ‚ÄďPreventing Vulnerabilities/Emotional Regulation
~    Sleep
~    Nutrition
~    Sunlight
~    Medical care
~    Exercise
~    Safety (External and Internal Bullying)


~    Love, Belonging and Self-Esteem
~    Identity vs. Role Confusion (12-18 Years)
~    Search for a sense of self and personal identity, through exploration of personal values, beliefs and goals relating to many roles
~    Fidelity involves being able to accept others, even when there may be ideological differences.
~    Social Influences
~    Pubertal self-help Рre. physical changes
~    Social support Рprotection against turmoil
~    Identity formation Рmirror
~    Values clarification Рsounding board

Characteristics of High Self-Esteem
~    Act independently
~    Assume responsibility
~    Take pride in personal accomplishments
~    Rejoice in other’s accomplishments
~    Tolerate frustration and failure
~    Accept and give constructive feedback
~    Attempt new tasks and challenges
~    Handle positive and negative emotions
~    Offer assistance to others

Causes of Stress and Low Self-Esteem
~    Low Self-Esteem
~    Need for external validation
~    Abandonment fears
~    Failure to develop identity and a sense of competence
~    Failure to understand self and complimentarity
~    Temperament
~    Extrovert vs. Introvert (Environment, Social Preferences, Problem Solving)
~    Sensing vs. Intuitive (Conceptualization, understanding of the world)
~    Thinking vs. Feeling (Moral reasoning, problem solving)
~    Judging vs. Perceiving (Time management)

Causes of Stress and Low Self-Esteem
~    Low Self-Esteem
~    Lack of awareness of personal strengths/talents and values   (The Friendship Sales Pitch Activity)
~    A sense of lack of acceptance and approval from significant figures (Parents, friends, society)
~    Low self-esteem  fears of failure, rejection, isolation, powerlessness = High Anxiety and/or Depression
~    Teens are highly vulnerable to emotional reactivity
~    Hormone changes
~    Rapid growth requiring more sleep
~    Lack of a larger frame of reference

Self-Esteem Building Activities
~    Know what you want. Goal setting tips SMART
~    Write about your strengths, good traits, achievements, successes.
~    Positive self-talk doesn’t help if it falls on deaf ears
~    Develop Balanced Core Beliefs
~    Build body (and self) acceptance
~    Build Assertiveness
~    Assertive Responses to Criticism
More Causes of Stress
~    Time Management
~    Peer pressure
~    Parental expectations
~    What am I going to do with my life
~    Physical changes
~    Traumatic events and losses
~    Romantic relationships
~    Failure to achieve something
TIPS‚ÄĒParenting and Reparenting
~    Insist on respect and show respect (to yourself)
~    Be direct, but not too direct
~    Avoid invalidating or minimizing feelings
~    When I was a kid…
~    Compared to other people….
~    In the big scheme of things…
~    Try the miracle question
~    Identify your needs/wants
~¬†¬† ¬†Emotional—to be happy
~    Environmental
~    Socail/friendships
~    Pay attention to:
~¬†¬† ¬†All-or-none¬† — What is the middle path?
~¬†¬† ¬†Overgeneralization¬† — Look for exceptions
~¬†¬† ¬†Mindlessness ‚Äď Stay focused in the present
~¬†¬† ¬†Pessimism ‚Äď Find the silver lining
~    Be self-compassionate
~    Address negative beliefs about compassion
~    Sadness and grief activation
~¬†¬† ¬†Shame of feeling ‚Äúneedy‚ÄĚ
~    Fear that giving up self criticism makes them lazy, weak, unlovable
~¬†¬† ¬†Adolescents still lack the experiences and ‚Äúframe of reference‚ÄĚ of adults
~    Their physical and hormonal development can make them especially vulnerable to high emotionality
~    Improving self-esteem means improving
~    Self-acceptance and awareness
~    Self-efficacy to handle tasks and emotions
~    Adolescents are still exploring roles and values and need to be encouraged to examine their personal belief systems
~    Adolescents who continue to strive for external validation and fear abandonment will
~    Maintain high levels of stress
~    Feel helpless and powerless
~    Develop alternate ways of surviving these fears
~    Rejection/self-isolation
~    Antisocial behavior
~    Addictive behaviors
~    Unquestioning compliance to peer pressure
~    Adults who had difficulty navigating adolescence often benefit from
~    Self-esteem work
~    Identifying and addressing automatic thoughts (including the internal critic)
~¬†¬† ¬†Development of mindfulness—what do YOU need right now
~    Exploration of compassion
~    Identification and resolution of losses from childhood which often manifest in adulthood as resentments
~    Happiness and recovery is entirely possible
~    All teens will go through phases of them identify their process
~    The key is to learn to identify
~    What are your goals and values
~    What makes you a good person
~    Which behaviors and thoughts get you closer to being the person you want to be and achieving your goals and values.