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How to Talk to Junior Highschoolers About Physical Changes

Could there be anything more awkward than talking to middle schoolers about the physical change they’re going through?

It’s weird for you, and it’s weird for them! But, weirdness aside, someone who cares about what’s going on within them (besides mom and/or dad) is a big deal, and they ought to begin the steps toward conversation.

Physical change plays a HUGE role in the lives of your students and it’s too big of a caring opportunity to ignore. As youth workers, we can guide our middle schoolers during this wild season and show them God’s Hand in the midst of their body change. We can acknowledge the awkwardness of the changes and, in doing so, help students love Jesus more. No matter what they see in the mirror–whether they like it or not–God sees their value. His love is constant no matter what changes are taking place.

Here are a few ideas to help shape your conversations and teaching with students:

Everyone goes through these physical changes, and it’s also normal to feel alone in the midst of these changes. Everyone is surprised by zits and new hair–welcome to the human race! Take a deep breath and remember these changes won’t last forever (it only feels like it).

Let’s be completely honest: for some people, physical changes in junior high can be intense and embarrassing–especially when we feel like everyone is watching 24/7. Learning to laugh at ourselves is a good thing and developing humility leads toward a trust in God.

No one is an accident, and everyone is an original masterpiece designed by God. God has crafted each student to be unique and amazing, and this process of change is just part of the journey. The physical changes happening are beyond one’s control. These changes are in God’s hands, and He has a plan to grow us. God loves us just the way we are, and we will feel more intimate with His love when we embrace the change.

The physical changes can be a reflection of the spiritual changes God wants for our lives. Spiritual changes ARE within our control. If we choose to keep trusting God, He will be changing us on the inside to become more like Jesus.

It can be tough to talk about this stuff, but your students need you to bring it up (they’re not likely to initiate the conversation, “Excuse me, can we talk about how weird I feel now that I’m growing hair in places I didn’t have it before?” That comment is very unlikely). Remember when you were in junior high? Chances are you experienced some growing pain. You are a living model that these awkward physical changes eventually end. Our encouragement is to hit the subject head-on and don’t hold back. You’ll be helping your middle schoolers through this difficult season.

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Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com