1. Experience often traumatic conflicts due to conflicting loyalties to peer groups and family;
2. Refer to peers as sources for standards and models of behaviour; media heroes and heroines are also singularly important in shaping both behaviour and fashion;
3. May be rebellious towards parents but still strongly dependent on parental values; want to make own choices, but the authority of the family is a critical factor in ultimate decisions;
4. Are impacted by high level of mobility in society; may become anxious and disoriented when peer group ties are broken because of family relocation to other communities;
5. Are often confused and frightened by new school settings which are large and impersonal;
6. Act out unusual or drastic behaviour at times; may be aggressive, daring, boisterous, argumentative;
7. Are fiercely loyal to peer group values; sometimes cruel or insensitive to those outside the peer group;
8. Want to know and feel that significant adults, including parents and teachers, love and accept them; need frequent affirmation;
9. Sense negative impact of adolescent behaviours on parents and teachers; realise thin edge between tolerance and rejection; feelings of adult rejection drive the adolescent into the relatively secure social environment of the peer group;
10. Strive to define sex role characteristics; search to establish positive social relationships with members of the same and opposite sex;
11. Experience low risk-trust relationships with adults who show lack of sensitivity to adolescent characteristics and needs;
12. Challenge authority figures; test limits of acceptable behaviour; and
13. Are socially at-risk; adult values are largely shaped conceptually during adolescence; negative interactions with peers, parents, and teachers may compromise ideals and commitments.


Young adolescents generally desire more autonomy. However, students also crave social acceptance and interaction. Students will begin to interact with the opposite sex, but their same sex relationships will supersede those with the opposite sex.

During this time, middle school learners will challenge significant adults and educators by testing their limits. However, it’s important for all adult family members and educators to continue expressing their love along with rules and expectations. Despite their behaviour, middle school learners yearn for adult role models and guidance.
Middle school learners are usually self-conscious, persistently judging themselves by their physical appearance and development. Due to fluctuating moods, middle school students are easy to offend yet can be inconsiderate to others. In addition to this, middle school students often believe that their problems and experiences are unique to who they are. Despite adult interaction, students feel that adults can’t possibly understand what teens are going through. Overall, middle school students seek to find out who they are as individuals.

Social-emotional development concerns a person’s capacity for mature interactions with individuals and groups. In early adolescence, social-emotional maturity often lags behind physical and intellectual development. Young adolescents have a strong need to belong to a group with peer approval becoming more important and adult approval decreasing in importance. As young adolescents mature socially and emotionally, they
may experience conflicting loyalties to peer group and family. Because young adolescents are fiercely loyal to their peer group, they search for social stature within the peer group.
Young adolescents often experiment with new behaviours as they seek social position and personal identity. They are also torn between their desire to conform to the peer group norms and their aspiration to be distinctive and independent. Young adolescents experience a variety of peer associations positive and negative. During early adolescence, youth typically widen their circle of friends and may experience feelings of romantic or sexual attraction. Issues of sexual orientation and identity can also arise at this time. Negative peer associations, particularly bullying, also become more prevalent in the middle school years.

Young adolescents are also socially and emotionally vulnerable due to influences of media. Young adolescents tend to emulate their esteemed peers and nonparent adults. While they prefer to make their own choices, the family remains a critical factor in final decision-making. Young adolescents may be rebellious toward their parents and adults, yet tend to depend on them. Young adolescents also frequently test the limits of acceptable behaviour and challenge adult authority.

They may overreact to social situations, ridicule others, and feel embarrassment. When experiencing adult rejection, young adolescents may seek the seemingly secure social environment of their peer group. Importantly, teachers report that addressing young adolescents’ social and emotional needs may improve their learning and academic achievement.