The Transition to Middle School

Who is more scared of the transition to middle school, your daughter or you? Well, let's talk
about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family
therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families to live happier lives. I lead
two organizations teen Therapy Precenter and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, child
and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump
onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's. My daughter
is going to start middle school next month. She definitely seems to have some anxiety about
it, but not as much as me. I'm definitely worried about her being in such a different environment
with so many other kids. What can I do to support her? And are there things I should know that I
may not be thinking of? Yes. Thank you for your question. The biggest thing that jumps out at
me is your daughter's anxiety about middle school is normal.

I think every kid has some anxiety transitioning from their elementary to their middle school.
It's also normal for you as the parent to have some anxiety about this as well. It's okay. I'm
not trying to minimize it. I'm trying to say this is a very common thing. And for the most part,
obviously, there are exceptions, but for the most part, those anxieties assuage over time
due to just acclimating to middle school in an imperfect way. Again, we as humans, the experience
of humanity is imperfection, and your daughter is going to transition imperfectly. She's
going to have some highs. She's going to have some lows. She's going to have some heartbreaks.
She's going to have some successes. It's going to be a mishmash. And that's also just part of
being a preteen. It's a big emotional whirlwind due to all the brain development, body development,
identity development. Who am I? How do I present myself to the world? How am I accepted? Who do
I accept? All this is really big. Also as that prefrontal

cortex which is developing right now in her brain is developing, she's going to start pushing
away a little bit and developing some independence, which can be really scary for parents as
well. And just be prepared for that. Now, what does that look like? I'll give you an example.
In elementary school, your daughter would get in the car, how's your day, honey? And she blah,
blah, blah, blah, say all about what she did in middle school. You may find that she gets in the
car and you say, how's your day? She goes, fine, puts her earbuds in, whatever it is, and you're
going to feel hurt because you felt rejected. I promise you this has nothing to do with you. It
has everything to do with her and what she's going through. And sometimes kids, when they get
out of school, she just may need to decompress and just have some quiet time in the car with no
one asking her questions. She may not be enjoying the middle school experience as much as you
would hope. Again, that may have to do with the middle

school, may have to do with her own stuff that's going on, could be done socially. There's a lot
of factors you may not always know and you can't always go in and fix it. She's going to have to
live through this and hopefully you are creating an environment where at times she can open
up. Sometimes if you're quiet enough in the car, she will start talking. Or when you talk her
into bed at night, maybe that's a good time to talk, but she's going to go through some emotional
stuff. Most schools, not every school, but a lot of middle schools will have like an orientation
day where incoming students can get to know each other, have activities, figure out where their
classes are, learn how to do their locker, all those things. I encourage you to try participate
in that and also help your daughter acclimate to the school by getting her to participate in
school. Activities could be any number of things. Student council, could be choir, sports,
clean, the beach club. It really doesn't matter what

it is, as long as it's something where she can engage socially and connect with other peers.
I know there's concern. You said in here that there's going to be a lot of older kids. They're
only a couple of years older than her. And generally in middle school you don't have 6th graders
in class. With 8th graders generally on campus, there are enough aides walking around there,
people are watching. And you may want to talk to your daughter if she's afraid of the 8th graders,
stay in public areas where people can see near aides and teachers. Hopefully that won't be an
issue, but just something to consider. Anyways, it's a big topic. We can go a thousand different
directions. I just want to scratch the surface on this on again, your anxiety is normal. But
the big thing about this, and I forgot to mention this, is make sure that you're resolving your
anxiety away from your daughter. Your daughter can't be responsible for assuasing your anxiety.
It's way too much of a burden for her to handle.

So make sure you're talking to your friends, your siblings, your therapist, whoever that is,
to help you center yourself for your own anxiety so you can be present and strong and accepting
and warm for your daughter when she's having her anxiety. Anyways. My name is Kent Toussaint.
This is tips on teens. I'm with Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit Child and Teen Counseling.
If you have a question you'd like me to answer, email us at
or you can direct message us right here on Facebook, book, or any other social media platforms
you see this video on. We love your questions. Thank you so much. And I will see you next week.


The transition to middle school can be a daunting experience for both parents and their kids. It’s normal to feel anxiety during this time, but it’s important to remember that it’s not going to be perfect. Middle school involves a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally, which can be overwhelming for kids. As a parent, you can help your child by creating a safe and supportive environment where they can talk about their feelings and concerns. 


Remember, there will be highs and lows, heartbreaks and successes. Middle school is a big emotional whirlwind, involving brain, body, and identity development. So, give your child time to adjust and don’t try to rush the process. Encourage them to get involved in extracurricular activities, make new friends, and explore their interests.

The transition to Middle School is anything but elementary, and we get into it in this Tips on Teens video:

“My daughter is going to start Middle School next month. She definitely seems to have some anxiety about it, but not as much as me. I’m definitely worried about her being in such a different environment with so many older kids. What can I do to support her and are there any things I should know that I may not be thinking of?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.