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Common Issues with Middle/Secondary School Children

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jade Mazarin

Jade is a board certified Christian counselor with an MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a certification in Natural Health. She is also a freelance writer on emotional health and spirituality.

During middle or secondary years, it's common for teens to go through various social and emotional challenges. Explore the typical issues commonly faced during this time, including problems with peers, authority, and family, and how counselors can help teens with them. Updated: 09/29/2021

Counseling in Middle & High School

When I look back on my school years, I remember middle school as being one of the hardest times emotionally. My parents had just gotten a divorce and my two best friends stopped being friends with me, leaving me feeling that I wasn't good enough. In hindsight, I wished I had talked with my school counselor about what I was going through. That is, after all, why she was there - to offer a listening ear and help me deal with challenging events.

There were students who talked frequently with our counselor. They received compassion, support and direction from her and enjoyed keeping her updated on events in their lives.

Middle and high school years are often tumultuous times for people. Problems like family situations, friend difficulties, academic trouble, and challenging dating scenarios are commonplace for teens. It is important for school counselors to have an idea of what teens typically go through.

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Typical Issues

While there are countless types of problems that can arise during this time of life, here we have a list of some of the most common issues that teens deal with:

Problems with Peers

16-year-old Penny is often upset with her friend Sasha. Sometimes Sasha is rude to her; sometimes she seems to be flirting with Penny's boyfriend. Penny complains to her other friends frequently about what Sasha is doing. One of her friends tells Sasha everything she hears, which only causes Sasha to act more rudely towards Penny.

As many of us know, problems between peers are common in middle and high school. Like so many adolescents dealing with peer issues, Penny would benefit from having an outside figure to discuss situations with, help her seek positive treatment, and show her how to be kind to others when needed.

Issues with Authority

Seventh grader Ian tends to misbehave frequently in class. When his teachers try to punish him, they send him to the principal, but that doesn't seem to have much of an impact on him. Ian also does not listen to his parents when it is not convenient for him. He doesn't like being told what to do and believes that he should be in charge of his own life.

Ian's issues with authority are a hindrance to his growth as a person and his positive relationships with others. A counselor could get to know Ian, look into why he might distrust authority, and provide a positive relationship with an authority figure.

Romantic Relationship Challenges

17-year-old Rena can't concentrate in class today because she has had another fight with her boyfriend. All year she has been in a tumultuous dating relationship that has become her focus. Her parents are concerned about her grades, and her friends are concerned about her emotional outbursts, but she doesn't feel able to let go of this draining relationship.

Like Rena, countless middle and high school students are unhappy, anxious, and distracted by challenges in their romantic relationships. If Rena had a counselor to see, she could sort through her situation with an objective party and be supported in doing what is healthy for her.

Social Inadequacy

Tenth grader Simon is accustomed to being unpopular and picked on. Since middle school, he has been teased and never invited to weekend parties. Simon suffers from insecurity due to feeling socially inadequate. He refuses to ask a girl to a dance when the opportunities arise, he doesn't like starting conversations with his peers, and he keeps to himself for fear of being rejected. Simon could be helped by a counselor who will address his self-esteem and teach him social skills for making new friends.

Family Events

Frank is a seventh grader who has been hoping for the past two years that his divorced parents would get back together. This year he became depressed when his mother announced that she was engaged to the man she had been dating. Frank is now fully grieving his parent's divorce, and he feels angry that another man will be 'taking his father's place.'

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