Starting high school is stressful for both parents and teens: below are ways to support your teen. Also read our blog written by a terrified parent’s point of view.
“Take a deep breath and you walk through the doors, it’s the morning of your very first day…” ~Taylor Swift, “Fifteen”
Remember what it’s like to start a new job? You agonize over what to wear on your first day so you can project the right image. When you arrive on your first day, everyone knows you are the “newbie”. You hope someone will ask you to lunch so you don’t have to eat alone at your desk or in the car.
Sounds stressful? Your teenager who is starting high school can relate. Topping their list of concerns is how to manage the new workload of high school and how to fit in to avoid looking like a “loser”.
What’s important is how they respond to these challenges. To satisfy the need to belong, what factors influence one teen’s choice to join student government and another to join the group of smokers outside?
The answer is resiliency, the ability to cope positively with stress and adversity. Fortunately, parents and other caring adults can do a lot to build resiliency in teens.
- Nurture, even if it’s not your nature. Build their self-confidence by using encouraging words, and do it often. Recognize what is good about your teen and be sure to tell them about it. Never underestimate the power of choosing to be a positive and nurturing parent. In the words of a 15 year old boy, “I feel much better about my day if my mom gives me a smile when I leave the house”.
- Family ties. Don’t assume your teen doesn’t want to spend time with you and the rest of the family. In fact, they need you more than ever. Spend time together. It doesn’t have to be expensive or earth-shattering – playing games, cooking, watching movies or playing sports.
- Get to know your kids’ friends. Yes, friends are very important to teens and you want to encourage these to be positive relationships. Get to know your teen’s friends and be sure to notice the good qualities of their friends. When your teen goes out with friends, find out where they are going and make your expectations clear of how they are to behave and what time you expect them home.
- Encourage them to be a “joiner”. Schools know that students are more successful when they feel connected at school so they offer a lot of options for involvement. Encourage your teen to join a club or a team that aligns with their strengths and interests. And be sure to be a joiner yourself when you are invited to attend a parent-teacher night or other parent event at the school.
With you in their corner, your teen is well-positioned to overcome their concerns about starting high school and ultimately to thrive and succeed.
About this guest blogger:
Michelle Schwarz has over 10 years experience in public health and has enjoyed diverse professional experiences promoting the health of babies, children and youth and supporting many parents along the way. Her current work focuses on preventing injuries and substance misuse among youth. She holds a Master of Public Administration degree, Health Policy specialization from Queens University, and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from McMaster University. She also enjoys being a dedicated mother to her 3 young children.
Share your experience:
For more tips and hints about supporting your teen through high school, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:
- Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
- Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dial 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.