Self-management is the ability to control emotions and behaviors sparked by those emotions. For example, a person showing self-management is able to calm down, not yell or act out, in moments of anger or frustration. Self-management is also being able to set and work toward goals, both personal and academic. As your child becomes a teenager, his ability to manage his emotions develops further. He will become better able to understand the consequences of his actions and to weigh the benefits and costs of certain behaviors, but he may not always act accordingly. Middle school can be a difficult time for parents and children alike, as your child develops more independence and starts pushing boundaries. By continuing to support your child’s self-management growth, you can guide him to becoming a responsible young adult.
During the middle-school years, young people are in transition from childhood to adolescence, and this can have an effect on their behavior. This phase is marked by emotional and physical growth. The onset of puberty may also make some teens unpredictable or moody and can cause them to feel out of control of their changing bodies. You can help your teen navigate through these years by taking the time to listen to his concerns and providing guidance and encouragement.
In middle school, your child may be able to recognize the cause of certain emotions and change their behavior accordingly. For example, your sixth grader may realize they get sweaty palms and feel anxious when taking a test they haven't studied for. They may then decide to make time to study for the next test so they don't feel as stressed.
Your child may have developed strategies to manage their stress, like taking deep breaths, talking to themselves to calm down, or exercising. Your middle-schooler may also be able to overcome their emotions by refocusing their energy. For example, if they are feeling left out by not being in the starting lineup for their basketball game, they might manage to overcome that disappointment and cheer on their teammates.
Don’t be surprised if your sixth-grader excels at self-management one day and not the next. Many children are emotionally volatile at this age, and self-management is an ongoing development.
Keep in mind that every adolescent develops at a different rate, leading to different social and emotional behaviors. The concepts highlighted in this section are based on the five sets of competencies developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). If you have concerns about your adolescent’s development, please contact their teacher, school counselor, or healthcare provider.
Learn more about how to support your child with our sixth-grade self-management tips page.
Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Maurice Elias, Director, Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab, and Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids.