Girl Drama 101: How to Survive the Middle School Years

Our girls enter middle school playing with American Girl dolls, and leave flirting with boys.  Some even have boyfriends and are dating by the time they head to high school.  In middle school our girls are trying to grow up, but still have a lot of “kid” left in them.

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It’s a lot of change in a short time. Raging hormones, painfully awkward social interactions, and academic pressure lead to stress.   The stress usually winds up dumped on our doorstep.  Between the ages of 10 and 13, tempers flare and conflicts with parents increase. So does the backbiting directed at other girls.  Any mother of a middle school girl would be lying if she didn’t tell you that this stage comes with  drama.  One moment they act like angels, and the next the fangs come out.  You may  need more wearwolf hunters than you’ll find on an episode of  Teen Wolf.


When the cliques form in middle school, there is always one girl in the group who deserves an Oscar for Best Tween Drama Queen.

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Some girls  thrive on the negative attention.  girls-914823_640They  gossip, betray confidences, and pit one friend against another to remain center stage.   You need to stop it while you can still mold them like a piece of clay, or they’ll be the type of toxic adults you avoid at high school reunions. The rapid physical and emotional changes can put almost any  middle school child on edge as they struggle to find their identity.  Are they a nerd, a jock, a goth?  They worry that they won’t fit in.  One minute they are deliriously happy, and the next miserable.

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Any little thing can set them off and trigger back talk or a meltdown worse than any toddler you’ve seen.

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Experts say that arguments with parents are normal as they separate  and assert independence. The key as a mother is to keep calm. Do not take the bait and resort to sarcasm,  name-call or fly off the handle and yell. I find yelling doesn’t work.  The “loudmouths” may have gotten high ratings on Morton Downey Jr.’s old “trash” TV show, but your child turns it around and asks, “Why do you yell?” If they yell, the best way to get them to stop is to tell them that they don’t want to sound that way.  You also need to pick your battles or kids will rebel if  you are too rigid.   Middle school meltdown triggers can include:

  • Not being able to find a hair tie
  • Their favorite pants are in the wash
  • They are forced to admit you are their mother publicly
  • You turned off their computer before they caught a Pokémon
  • Jimmy Kimmel has you tell them that you ate all of their Halloween candy and plan to eat their Christmas stocking stuffers too, down to the last peppermint pattie

A recent study found that having a child in middle school is the most stressful time in a mother’s life.  It’s just such a roller coaster.  But look at the bright side, at least they’re potty-trained and share their feelings.

6 thoughts on “Girl Drama 101: How to Survive the Middle School Years

  1. Wow, our daughter’s 7 and won’t be at secondary school until she’s 11 but I’m all too aware that it’ll be here in a blink. I really hope to the mum who stays calm and is as lenient as possible… And I know that if our beautiful daughter doesn’t huff and puff at some point, there may be something amiss! An entertaining and shuddering post all at once! #mg

    • It’s been a long time since I walked the hallways of a middle school but I have bittersweet memories myself. I often felt like a dork. I feel like I’ve lived through all the angst again with my kids. The days spent moving on from elementary to high school are a roller coaster of high emotion that includes the best and worst of times – love, hate, backstabbing, and friendship. Parents can feel a lot of stress. Let’s not forget “dorkestra” where kids don’t want to practice and parents have to get on their case. You are so right that parents need to “Stay Calm and Carry On” as the British would say. #mg

  2. we don’t have middle school here, but Aspen is almost thirteen and April has just turned ten. I have been aware of school drama for many years, but luckily both my girls have stayed out of it. April doesn’t even seem to notice, she is seriously in her own world. Aspen used to get quite upset about it, distressed that other girls were being mean to other girls. She has never been targeted herself but she wants everyone to be friends and it has been hard for her to understand that isn’t the real world. She loves rules and doesn’t grasp why people break them (yet anyway). I am completely aware teenage years are coming, as will body changes, and boy liking. But so far I am still getting hugs in front of friends and still getting lots of I love you mummy, so I’ll soak it up whilst I can. Loved your post, you always make me laugh! #mg

    • It’s so intriguing to think of the Australian educational system where you jump right from elementary to high school in most regions. Kids really have to grow up fast. You are so lucky that your girls have stayed away from all the “Theatre of the Absurd” mean girl drama. Mean girl behavior is perplexing for girl’s (and boy’s). It sounds like you have a very special bond with your girls and will weather the teen years just fine. #mg

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