Although contemporary research has viewed pubertal changes as more
an opportunity rather than a crisis (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2001), the
varied timing of early adolescent development is still diffi cult for students
and the adults who work with them. These rapid and intense developmental
changes occur in interaction with multiple systems. Family, peers, and
the classroom and school environment are all a part of the microsystem
which directly infl uences development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Newman,
Lohman, Newman, Myers, & Smith, 2000). Early adolescents play an
active role in these relationships as they differentiate from family. Early
adolescents question parental authority and often distance parents with
assertive or aggressive attempts at independence. Inconsistent behavior and
variation in mood often lead to some rejection of rules and authority of
their parents and peers may take on increased importance for daily decisions.
While both family and peer groups are infl uential, the transition
from the elementary to middle school environment is another signifi cant
systemic infl uence.