From Middle School to High School: How to Help Your Kids Transition
It seems like just yesterday you were changing your child’s diapers and listening to their cute baby giggles.
But now that they’ve graduated middle school and are getting ready to start their freshman year of high school, it’s a dose of reality: Your baby isn’t a baby anymore.
Nothing makes you prouder as a parent than seeing your child grow into a mature young adult. And no matter how confident or excited they seem, they still need your help as they make the transition into high school.
Here’s how you can support them on their way:
Start Preparing Now
Even if your child isn’t starting high school yet, it’s never too soon to start preparing them for new responsibilities and challenges.
Before they get to high school, give your kids more tasks. Maybe they do their own laundry or pack their own lunch. Introducing chores to get your child to help around the house can teach them how to balance more responsibility.
When they get to high school, more is expected of them. Teachers give more assignments with less hand-holding, and you’ll want your child to be able to handle whatever is thrown their way.
Be There for Them
Beginning high school is both an exciting and scary time for your child. While they have the chance to meet tons of new friends, it’s also a time during which they can feel isolated or out-of-place.
As a parent, you can be supportive for your new high school student just by being there and offering them positivity and guidance. Always let them know that you’re available to listen — and when they take you up on the offer, be the sounding board they need.
It’s important not to become invasive or force your child to open up if they’re not ready. Take their cues—if it seems like they’re closing off, don’t pry too much. If they’re facing you and displaying open body language, ask away!
Maintain the Fine Line Between Parent and Friend
Though it’s great to have an open and honest relationship with your child, they also still need to respect you as their parent.
Establish consistent rules and expectations, and communicate them clearly. You might want to set a curfew, guidelines around how often your child needs to check in, and other new stipulations to adjust as they transition into young adulthood.
By establishing these clear expectations, you’re also re-establishing your authority as a parent.
But it’s not all about setting rules. Give your child more freedom along with those rules to maintain a balance.
Help Them Establish Their Own Goals
As your child matures, it’s important for them to consider the future and set goals to work towards. This can help your child stay focused and understand the importance of an education now to help reach those future goals.
It’s okay for these goals to change over time, and they don’t all have to be strictly school-related. Perhaps they want to beat their personal best time for running a mile, or they want to get an after-school job by the time they turn 16.
Whatever it is, help them set the goal and, more importantly, help them plan the steps for how to reach it.
Watch for Signals
No matter how close you are with your child, they might not disclose everything to you. That’s why it’s important to be aware of your child’s behavior and mood, and to take note of any unexplained changes.
Body image issues and self-consciousness are at all-time highs during this age. This makes your teen extra fragile, especially as they seek acceptance from new groups of peers.
If you suspect your child is the victim of bullying (or may be the bully themselves), and they’re unwilling to talk about it, contact the school to determine a course of action.
If you notice signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Encourage Them to Pursue New Activities
At this age, your child is becoming more self-aware and developing passions and habits that will stick with them through their adult lives.
That’s why it’s important to encourage them to try new things both in and out of school. Help your child experiment with different clubs, sports and classes to find out what really sticks.