“In sixth and seventh grades, girls get excited about becoming preteens and having their own world,” says Catherine Steiner-Adair.“It’s a time when they develop their own set of interests and begin to think about the world around them.” The nature of friendship changes in middle school.“When boys hit the scene it can be tough to sort out just how to interact in the same old way with girlfriends,” adds Meg White.“By the time your daughter is 10 or 11, it’s time to open a conversation about sex and boys, but I recommend parents back off from too much boy talk.Encourage her to be friends with a wide spectrum of people (without forcing the issue), and always, always assume the best — so will she.” There’s a lot that’s cool about middle school.
“But we need to find ways to connect with our children other than being part of their social lives.” The media set the tone for middle school.
“One of the best things you can do for your daughter is not to assume she or other girls are, by nature, over-dramatic, mean, or gossipy,” says Lyn Mikel Brown. Avoid ‘girls will be girls’ or ‘girls are so mean to each other’ messages.
Appreciate and support your daughter’s best impulses, praise her when she takes risks, especially if they involve going against the social tide, support her individuality, and downplay concerns about what other people think.
Cliques get clique-ier, the need to be in power intensifies, and girls can get meaner — and much of this behavior stems from the intense desire to belong, the need to feel powerful, and the conditioning that many girls have to not express their feelings directly.
Some girls function as leaders, others as followers, and the rest live outside the groups.