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Is your child starting high school this fall? Is the word 'teenager' causing you anxiety?
The best way to support your child in
this transition to high school is to discuss with him/her the major changes
they will be facing. Your child will go
through more changes, both physically and socially, in the next three years
than he or she has experienced since the first three years of life. But
remember that teens switch between a demand for independence and a need for
direction and regulation. SO, rest
assured that despite the fact that teens seldom appreciate direct advice, they
Talk to your child before Grade 7 starts about the differences from elementary school and what to expect in junior high. The most successful students are those whose parents are involved: volunteer when you can, meet teachers, attend school meetings or events and read monthly school newsletters.
Encourage the use of agenda books for homework and check them for assignments. They still have the same habits they had in elementary school and they still need guidance.
Set a regular time and place for homework to be done. Give clear expectations and reinforce them. Contact the school and teacher(s) if you notice that your child does not bring any work home. Don’t wait until the report card comes! Teacher names are found on your child’s daily schedule. Call the school secretary and leave a message for each of your child’s teachers or get their e-mail address on your first orientation evening. Have faith in the teachers and coaches. They will become wonderful mentors and advisers.
Set your expectations. Teens will likely act unhappy with expectations you place on them. However, they usually understand and need to know that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and adherence to the rules at school or at home. If parents have sensible expectations, teens will likely try to meet them. Without reasonable expectations, your teen may feel you don't care about him or her. Share your family values with your teen and talk about what you believe is right and wrong. Adolescence is a time when children begin to define themselves. Instead of preaching, Listen to what they have to say and try to guide them to their own solutions.
Encourage your child to participate in school events. Participation in school activities is not only important for your child to feel part of his/her community but your child learns social skills that are different from those learned in a classroom. It prepares them for the adult world. However, new experiences like school dances and Friday night hockey games require advance conversations about rules and expectations. Be clear about curfew, appropriate behaviors in public and transportation issues. When at home, teens shouldn't have unlimited access to TV or the Internet in private — these should be public activities. Access to technology should also be limited after certain hours (say 10 PM or so) to encourage adequate sleep. It's not unreasonable, for any parent, to have cell phones and computers off limits after a certain time.
Be supportive. That means giving your children a framework of values and a work ethic and then letting go so that they can explore the boundaries of that structure. Some days, they will thrive. Other days, they will start the term project the night before. When that happens, breathe, provide food and drink, but step away from the glue gun. It is so easy to step in and act like “helicopter” parents, taking care of things for our children instead of letting them figure it out for themselves. Like, writing their English paper, or bringing their forgotten homework to school for the 100th time. But just because we can bail out our kids, doesn't mean we should. Recall all the times you were tested as a kid, either academically or socially. Were your parents around to rescue you? No, they had their lives to lead. But those incidents taught you to cope with disappointment and made you who you are. Give your kids the same moments. Someday, they will thank you!
Lastly, Always act like a parent: A warm relationship is ideal, but sometimes you need to do things your child won't understand. Remember, you're a parent, not a pal. Your responsibility is to ensure the well-being and safety of your child. Intervening in a dangerous situation (like ones involving drugs or abuse) might make your child dislike you, but it will also save his or her life. Don't go along with their ideas "just to get along" but always do what's best for your child. At the same time, kids this age are more and more aware of how others, especially their peers, see them. They are desperately trying to fit in. Don’t be offended when their peers become much more important in terms of making decisions. Never forget that they still need you to be there as their guide, regardless.
You may have a hard time imagining it, but eventually, your child will become an independent, responsible, communicative young adult. But remember the words of Joyce Maynard, “It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”
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