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“Parents get frustrated because they don’t get to hear their daughters talk the way they did when they were in elementary school,” notes Michael Thompson.

“But we need to find ways to connect with our children other than being part of their social lives.” The media set the tone for middle school.

Here’s how one 15-year-old remembers middle school: “In sixth grade I went to a new school.

I was really eager to make new friends but keep my old ones.

Girls live their lives online, doing homework, watching TV, and talking to friends simultaneously. “Hormones make many girls feel edgy, crabby, cranky, and teary,” notes Steiner-Adair.

While they can use the Internet in wonderful ways, they can sometimes use it to flame and shame each other, spread vicious rumors, and post malicious information behind girls’ backs. “Everyone’s bodies are developing and changing at different rates and this often makes girls feel uncomfortable with their own.” Raging hormones and interest in boys can also disrupt the existing social order.

Cliques get clique-ier, the need to be in power intensifies, and girls can get meaner — and much of this behavior stems from the intense desire to belong, the need to feel powerful, and the conditioning that many girls have to not express their feelings directly.

Some girls function as leaders, others as followers, and the rest live outside the groups.

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It may be tough going, as this age can be mouthy and naturally rude. But the best guardrails are conversations parents have with kids about safe ways to use the internet as well as family rules, consistently enforced, that govern internet use.

Play sports games on Xbox or Playstation with your child.

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Encourage her to be friends with a wide spectrum of people (without forcing the issue), and always, always assume the best — so will she.” There’s a lot that’s cool about middle school.

While much is written about mean girls, it’s important for parents to realize how much fun this time can be socially for their daughters.

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