Teens: Looking Cool in Middle School

A Note From the L.A. Teen Therapist

Middle School is a time when the opinions of friends become very important, and pre-teens often wonder about how to fit in. – Sandra

“My bed time is way earlier than all of my friends’. They get to stay up late and watch all of the cool shows. When I see them, they’re talking about what I missed and I have no idea what to say. Should I just pretend that I know what they’re talking about?”

Adolescence is a time when you are discovering who you are and how you want to be perceived in the world. One of the challenges that everyone faces during this time is that each family has their own set of rules. The key is to respond to your parent’s requests with respect and creativity. The privilege of staying up later is something that can be earned. One option is to politely explain the situation to your parents and ask how you might earn the privilege of staying up a little later.

Some shows that are on at night have adult language and behavior that some parents would prefer that their children not watch. It could be helpful to hear your parents opinions about the shows you are referring to. If they are open to your watching these shows, but are just concerned about you getting enough sleep on a school night, then perhaps they would consider taping them for you, and allowing you to watch them at an earlier time the following day, or on the weekend.

The bottom line is that there is a good chance that you will find yourself in many situations where you are not allowed to do everything that all of your friends are doing. As long as you live in your parent’s house, they will be setting some rules. The better your relationship with your parents, the better chance you have of negotiating for what it is that you want. And in those times when you don’t get your way, it’s important to know that you are not the only one who struggles with parents who set limits.

As for the conversations with your friends, you don’t have to pretend you know what they’re talking about. You also don’t have to reveal what time you go to bed. When you don’t know what they are talking about, try listening carefully and enjoying the conversation. Sometimes it’s nice to just be with people you like.

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