Newswise — One of tweens' biggest social concerns is: "will I have friends?"

"Often your child's friends will change during this time, particularly if you've got several elementary schools feeding into one middle school," said Dr. Natalie Adams, professor of social foundations of education in The University of Alabama's College of Education. "And that can be exciting but also scary at the same time for the child and the parents."

"As a parent, you need to encourage your child to join organizations at school or do extra curricular activities where they will have an opportunity to meet new people," Adams said. "That's the neat thing about middle school is that you do have a lot of clubs and things you can join."

And, once your child starts making new friends, parents need to be active in getting to know not just the friends, but the friends' parents.

"You need to get know these friends well and know the parents as well. Visit them in their homes and have them to your house. Know their family rules."

"Some parents think that at middle school, you should back off, but not when it comes to friends. You need to be very aware of your child's friends"

While parental involvement is encouraged here, Adams warns not be too involved.

"There's a difference in being involved and being a 'helicopter parent' which means you hover over your child making all their decisions, micromanaging their life. That's not healthy."

"Middle school is a time where you want your child to gain some independence. They're going to perhaps make some wrong decisions. They may not get invited to that sleep-over that everyone else did. And that's ok. That's part of growing up. Don't overreact. Be there for them."