For Grades 6-8

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Middle schoolers are experiencing many changes and more complex emotions.

As middle schoolers gain more independence from adults, they’re paying more attention to friendships. They’re learning how to act in different social situations and resolve conflicts. At the same time, they have a stronger sense of who they are and are thinking about their own beliefs, interests, and how they fit in with different groups. They’re also developing critical thinking skills, and learning how to make decisions based on different information and ideas.

Parents and Caregivers, Your Turn!

First, think about a topic or issue your middle schooler is interested in – maybe something they want to change at school or something they want to do to contribute to their community. How do they demonstrate their strengths and show their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationships skills, and responsible decision-making?

Next, help your young person build on their own social and emotional strengths to find something that matters to them and what they want to do about it. Ask them:


I noticed you’ve been interested in _____. (Or, what’s something that you would change in your school or our community?)
Why is that important to you?


What are you thinking of doing about it?
How would you go about doing that?

Social awareness

Do you think other people feel the same way?
Why might people feel differently about this?

Relationship skills

Who do you need to work with or communicate with on this issue?
How can you get them on board?


What else do you need to know about this issue? If you do ____, what might change?
How might it affect people in different ways?

Now, work toward a leadership goal together:

Work with your middle schooler to plan concrete actions to address the issue or topic. After they take those actions, talk to your young person about what they can do next.

See our SEL conversation guidance for other grade levels.