Middle School Issues Commonly Faced By Kids

group of middle school girls bullying girl in hallway

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Middle school is a transition for children, and while it can be an experience of growth and independence, it can also be difficult for children who face certain problems associated with middle school. Knowing what your child might experience or encounter during these years can help you prepare him or her, and maybe even prevent certain problems from surfacing. As always, knowledge is power.

Common Challenges Faced by Middle Schoolers

Below are a few typical middle school problems your child may have to face. Make sure your tween knows that whatever his challenges might be, you'll be there to help, offer advice and work through them together.


Even once confident kids may experience a severe drop in self-esteem in the middle school years. Your child will compare herself to her peers, and she may decide that she just doesn't measure up to others whom she believes to be smarter, prettier and more popular. It's difficult to watch a child deal with self-esteem issues, especially when you know how wonderful they really are.

Help your child focus on her talents, and find activities that she enjoys. Be sure to avoid being too critical of yourself, so that you can model bye behavior you desire in your tween. With a little luck, self-esteem may resurface once your tween feels like she has a core group of friends and interests that she enjoys.

Academic Pressure

They seem so young, but middle schoolers are already feeling the pressure that was in the past reserved for high schoolers. Even in middle school, students hear about the competition to get into a good college, score well on SATs and other academic pressures. Some of this pressure comes from the school staff; other times it is well-meaning parents who place it directly on their kids' shoulders.

Resist the temptation to push your child to the point that he or she can't enjoy the middle school experience because they're so concerned about success or failure. They still have a lot of growing up to do, and they don't need any more pressures than they already have. Save the college talk for when they're in high school. You'll be glad you did.

Social Issues

Bullying and other antisocial behaviors tend to peak in the middle school years. It can be a tough time for kids who are on the receiving side of bad behavior. In popular kids can be bullied or made to feel badly by others.

Girls can be particularly cruel. Be on the lookout for mean girls, frenemies, and bullies, and arm your child with ideas on how to deal with them, who to turn to for help, and how to move on.


Middle school may be the first time your child decides to experiment with smoking, drinking, drugs, and other dangerous behaviors. There's no one right way to prevent your child from making a terrible mistake, but having frequent conversations about what's right and wrong, what's dangerous and why, and what you expect and hope for your child is certainly a good start.

It's also very important to know what's going on in your community by staying in touch with other parents, and by keeping yourself in the loop at your child's school.

Disappointment and Rejection

Is there a tween who doesn't experience a broken heart at some point during the middle school years? Doubtful. It's hard for a parent to watch their child experience puppy love and the heartache that goes with it, but if your child hasn't known rejection or disappointment yet, they will.

You can help your tween put it all into perspective to help ease the pain, and find distractions to take their mind off their troubles. Before long, all will be forgotten, and your tween will have moved on.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Onetti W, Fernández-García JC, Castillo-Rodríguez A. Transition to middle school: Self-concept changesPLoS One. 2019;14(2):e0212640. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0212640

  2. Klinger DA, Freeman JG, Bilz L, et al. Cross-national trends in perceived school pressure by gender and age from 1994 to 2010Eur J Public Health. 2015;25 Suppl 2:51‐56. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckv027

  3. Bellmore, A., Huang, H., Bowman, C. et al. The trouble with bullying in high school: issues and considerations in its conceptualizationAdolescent Res Rev. 2017;2,11–22. doi:10.1007/s40894-016-0039-7

  4. Wormington SV, Anderson KG, Tomlinson KL, Brown SA. Alcohol and other drug use in middle school: The interplay of gender, peer victimization, and supportive social relationshipsJ Early Adolesc. 2013;33(5):610‐634. doi:10.1177/0272431612453650

By Jennifer O'Donnell
Jennifer O'Donnell holds a BA in English and has training in specific areas regarding tweens, covering parenting for over 8 years.