17 Emotional Middle school students are often moody. They’re up, they’re down, they’re happy, they’re sad, they’re confused. These mood changes are the normal result of the changes their bodies are going through, and of their need to figure out who they are and how they fit into this complicated middle school world. Parents can best help their children by providing encourage- ment, support, love, and a stable home environment. Intellectual Middle schoolers are ready to explore and learn about life. They have a strong sense of what’s fair, and they like to think that they can make a dif- ference. Middle schoolers are able to think more abstractly and they can handle more complex intellectual tasks. Parents can help their children develop intellectually by discussing serious topics with them, by giving them opportunities to express their opinions, and by showing respect for their ideas. Social Friends are very important to middle school- ers and they often spend a great deal of time communicating online, texting, and talking on the phone. They are also beginning to come to terms with their own sexuality. Middle school students are trying to find their own identity, but yet they don’t want to be different. They want to be part of the group, and they often worry about what other people think of them. Because“fitting in”is so important, middle school students are often susceptible to peer pressure and to the images and messages they get from the media (“girls should be thin,”“boys should be tough”). Students with a positive self image are less influenced by peer pressure and media messages. It is, therefore, important for parents to help their children build their self-esteem and develop a strong sense of who they are. While being with friends is very important to middle schoolers, doing things with their parents and families provides them with a much needed sense of security.