Social Goals for Middle School Students (A Parent’s Guide)

Middle school students are starting to develop a deeper social identity and they find an identity in their peer groups.

Middle school students continue to need social emotional education and skill building opportunities.

Children in middle school are growing in decision making, social-awareness and self-awareness and management. 

12 to 15 year olds in middle school will start to seek out trusted adults outside of their family as they start to see themselves as independent. 

Support your children in this transition by affirming their independence, and giving them appropriate control over choices that affect their lives. 

Social Goals for Middle School Students

As a general rule, middle schoolers are more aware of their social skills and position within their friend group. 

While development takes place over the years of middle school children will be developing in the following areas: 


I can look back on past emotional events and describe the causes.

I can make connections between my self-talk and my emotions.

I can name factors that cause me stress. 

I can maintain concentration on a task. 

I can recognize my own strengths and weaknesses and understand how they affect my choices. 

I can set short term goals and make plans to achieve them. 

I can reflect on why someone may have or have not met a goal.

I can see how a challenging situation lead to growth or a positive outcome. 

I can make connections between time management and outcomes. 

Social-Awareness and Belonging

I can understand and accept viewpoints that are different from mine. 

I can express gratitude in a variety of situations. 

I can identify bias, conscious and unconscious. 

I can see how someone’s behavior is affecting the behavior of another. 

I can use strategies to resolve conflict. 

I can advocate for the inclusion of others. 

I can advocate for myself in a group situation. 

Decision Making

I can see the purpose behind school and social rules. 

I can be open minded when making decisions. 

I can compare and contrast outcomes of a choice. 

I can evaluate how a choice affects me and others. 

I can identify strategies to resist peer pressure to make negative choices. 

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for Middle School

Setting social-emotional goals with your child can be a great way to discuss difficult social issues your child may be facing at school. 

Start by talking to your child about school and friends, goals that they create will be more meaningful and are more likely to result in actions. 

  • I can use strategies to avoid peer pressure to make negative choices. 
  • I can respect school rules and understand their purpose. 
  • I can listen respectfully even when I do not agree. 
  • I can make a plan to improve my math grade and take steps to achieve it. 

Many middle schools have programs to support children’s social-emotional development.

You can reach out to a guidance counselor to get resources to guide your goal setting conversations. 

How do you set social goals?

Talk to your child about any concerns they have with their own stress level, their friends or peer pressure. 


Children in this age range are usually pretty aware of the characteristics they admire in their friends and themselves. 

Ask them to start listing concerns they want to address or skills they want to strengthen. 

Focus On One Skill

A whole list of problems is likely to be overwhelming, so choose just one skill or concen to focus on. 

You can tackle the list one at a time. 

Choose one area to focus on and write it on a clean paper. Use action words that will describe what the student will do. 

Choose Actions 

Pair the goal with some actions that you can take. 

These actions may include finding resources outside the school and family to build social skills.

Peer mediation courses are available for middle schoolers and can help them develop various conflict management skills. 

Some schools offer anger management groups or parent support groups. 

Your pediatrician may also be able to refer you to resources available in the community. 

Celebrate Success

Be sure to mark the progress your child is making towards their goals. 

When your child attends groups, resolves a conflict or gets a higher grade, celebrate and affirm that you see their efforts. 

Social Goals and IEPs

Individualized education plans or IEPs often include social goals for students with identified disabilities. 

IEP goals are written in a way that they can be monitored and recorded for discussion by the IEP team. 

Social-emotional goals are an important part of IEPs and are written by parents, teachers, guidance counselors and case workers. 

An IEP goal for social emotional learning my look something like:

  • Ollie will set goals each week for civics work. 
  • Kerry will use conflict resolution strategies when prompted with 80% accuracy. 
  • Will will request to use the reset room when he identifies his stress level rising with 60% accuracy. 

These goals can be evaluated by the IEP team at any IEP meeting and should be monitored by all members of the IEP team. 

How to Support Your Middle Schooler’s Social Development

The most important thing you can do to support your child’s social emotional development is to create a safe open environment at home.

Talk openly about your emotions in good and bad times. Emotions are a normal and natural part of life and not something to be embarrassed about. 

Reading books together is another way to build empathy.

Family read alouds can spark important discussions about peer conflict, difficult emotions and family differences. 

If you are concerned that your middle school student is not developing social-emotional skills at a typical rate, discuss these concerns with your pediatrician. 

Pediatricians are trained in normal development and they may be able to provide insights that are helpful for you and your child. 

Children in this age range are likely to reach out to trusted adults outside of their family to share struggles and concerns.

Setting Social Goals for Middle School

Your child is growing up and becoming more and more independent as each year passes. 

Affirm their social development by celebrating their growth and providing opportunities to exercise their decision making. 

Spend time talking to your child about any social goals they may have for themselves as they face new challenges and stressors.

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Social Goals for Middle School Students