Starting secondary school is the beginning of an adventure, and a whole new chapter of your life. It’s a stage in your development where a lot of changes are taking place. Some will be exciting, some can be confusing and some may be a bit daunting.
Every part of your body and brain will be growing as you change school, develop new friendships and relationships, learn academically and socially and go through puberty. You might be impatient for some of these changes, but you may prefer some to happen more slowly; you might even resent some for a while.
Relationships and feelings are two big parts of your development – it’s important to understand and manage these two areas of your life.
The development of relationships is one of the most important parts of your emotional growth. As you move into secondary school you will start to build more relationships.
Think of the following important relationships:
- Professional relationships
Click on the link to find out a bit more about these:
Right now an important change is taking place in your life when it comes to friends.
You may have a lot of friends who will be going to the same school as you, or you may not know anyone.
You may want to hang onto your old friends, or you may want to make a whole new set of friends.
Making new friends and maintaining friendships requires effort, resilience, a good sense of fun and knowing who you are and what you want.
You probably have a lot of experience of friendships at this stage. You may have had great friendships in national school or maybe you had some really difficult relationships with friends, which left you feeling lonely or confused. Whatever your experience, you are now ready to start a different chapter in your life – this means that you get to make good choices.
How you work with the professionals in your life depends on the effort you put in and the respect you offer and receive.
School can be hard going at times, even exhausting. All teachers want to teach, educate and guide their students. There may be some you like and some you don’t, for one reason or another.
It may feel that professionals – whether it’s your teacher or coach – have it ‘in for you’ for some reason. These are feelings we all experience from time to time; we need to think about what they mean, why they show up and what we can do about them.
Remember: the school system is designed to support you to learn, grow and develop; not just academically, but emotionally and socially as well.
If school is getting hard for any reason, don’t forget that help is at hand – make sure you speak to someone about it.
Sometimes being in a family can be wonderful, and at other times it’s hard work. As you get older, the rules and norms in your family may need to change. Be prepared for negotiation, understanding and redefined boundaries.
As you grow up, you’ll want more independence and to create your own unique identity. This can cause clashes in the family, and can lead to feelings of not being heard or understood.
It’s important to remember that parents/carers are usually on your side. It can be good to think about how you want to be with your family, and to learn how to give and take. Sometimes it can be important to give in gracefully, or simply apologise.
Romance usually comes into our lives at some stage in school. It can be wonderful, heart-breaking, exhausting, exhilarating or confusing.
Still, so many people talk about it that it must be worth taking a chance on! Don’t avoid romance or love because you’re afraid you might get hurt; think of it as magic which needs time, patience, understanding and respect for you and the other person.
Yourself – or Me, Myself and I!
This is the longest, most rewarding, most secretive, most punishing and yet the most valuable relationship you will ever have – and it depends completely on you.
While we spend lots of time thinking about the relationships we are in, the ones we aren’t in and the ones we might want to be in, we often neglect to think about our relationship with ourselves.
You might find it odd to think about being in a relationship with yourself, but it is something we do every day of our lives. You will never speak to anyone else as much as you speak to yourself in your own head!
It’s really important that this relationship should be a good, solid and kind one. Some things to remember:
Know who you are.
Knowing who you are is an important part of your development, and involves learning to listen to yourself and others. Listen to feedback and guidance, trust yourself and learn your likes and dislikes.
Develop a regular check-in with yourself. A good way to start this is to ask “the way I’m thinking or behaving right now – is it helpful or harmful?”.
Make time to unplug from devices and our busy world. Time spent doing nothing – meditating, relaxing and just being still for a while – is a wonderful gift to your brain and body.
Three important R’s:
- Becoming Relevant: know who you are and stay connected to who you want to become
- Staying Relational: stay connected and in contact with yourself and others
- Building Resilience: Recognise that stuff happens. Know what you can change and what you can’t, show up in your life, and trust yourself most of all. Click to find out more about resilience.
Feelings and emotions are an important part of life.
Understanding our emotions is an important skill to develop for life, as most things that we do will involve experiencing many emotions. Think of sitting an exam, winning an event or the excitement of holidays.
Having and expressing emotions means that we have a thinking, feeling brain. Knowing exactly why we feel the way we do is called ‘emotional intelligence’.
We need to know what emotions we are feeling so that we can respond in a way that is suitable and appropriate to the situation.
Emotions and feelings are normal – we should never try to dismiss or ignore them. Rather, we should be curious and interested in why we feel the way we do.
Your body is an amazing machine, of which you are the sole owner for the rest of your life. As you change and grow, it changes with you.
When you were small, your parents or carers had the responsibility of caring for your body. They fed you and cared for you so that you were nourished, warm and looked after. To the best of their ability they cared for you, physically and emotionally.
Now that you’re getting older, your body and mind are developing at a fast and energetic pace. While you may still rely on your parents, you also now have the ability and capacity to both understand and take care of your physical and emotional health.
To understand your body and mind, it’s important to know what is happening developmentally.
Your ‘peers’ are people your age, or close to it, who have experiences and interests similar to yours. They generally come from places where you spend your time – at school, sports and in your local neighbourhood. Peers could also include people you meet online through forums and on social media platforms.
As you become more independent, your peers will play a greater role in your life, and become like an extended family. They influence you in the way they dress and act, things they’re involved in, and the attitudes they show.
People are influenced by peers because they want to fit in, be like those they admire, do what they are doing, or have what they have. It’s natural.
You and your peers make a lot of decisions every day, and you influence each other’s choices and behaviours. This influence can be both positive and negative – it’s good to know more about it.
What is resilience?
Resilience is usually defined as the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity and stress. Having resilience doesn’t mean we somehow avoid sadness, disappointment, or failure. But people who are resilient bounce back more easily from setbacks.
The following are traits and characteristics that are associated with resilience.
- Having a sense of purpose.
- The desire to help others
- Sense of humour
- Positive role models
- Social connections and support
- A willingness to confront and learn from fears.
The good news is that all these traits can be learned.