The Do’s and Don’ts of Helping Your Teen Adjust to High School

When your kids are about to start high school, you’re in for a few adjustments. As a parent, you’d want to guide them through the changes and make sure they get the best possible start to the rest of their education – yet, some parents fail to draw a line and end up doing more harm than good.

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Here is what the experts out there have to say about helping your teenager adjust to the demands and challenges of high school, and how you can guide them to be their very best.


Do: Realize the social and physical changes

Puberty can take many parents completely by surprise. However prepared you thought you were for the changes, it’s important to remember that the transition of being the oldest at their school to suddenly being the youngest can be unsettling on its own.

Realizing that body image complexes and social pressure can start already before puberty has begun will help you to understand your child better and support them when they need it. In addition to all of this, they’ll be going through a change in the social structure they’re used to; the class sizes increase, the school is new, and they’ll be taught by teachers they have never met before.

The change means an increase in stress levels until they’re used to their new weekdays and, as a parent, the best thing you can do is to offer them emotional support and make their lives at home as predictable as possible.

Don’t ignore the subtle fishing for compliments or the silent bids for attention and reassurance; your teenager or teenager to-be needs it now more than ever.


Don’t: Help them in the morning

The sad truth for many parents is the fact that their children will grow out of needing their help. This doesn’t mean that they won’t need your help at all, though, and most teenagers are still in desperate need of being taught how to be proper adults.

You can help them out with this by stepping back and allowing them to control their own mornings, waking up to their own alarm clock and preparing breakfast for themselves.

They should be doing this already, but it’s worth mentioning as some parents find it very difficult to let go of their old habits. Although their heart is in the right place, they fail to understand how parenting changes as their children grow up – and that by the time they’re as old as eleven or twelve, your child is perfectly capable of waking up without your help and preparing their own breakfast and lunch.

If they oversleep, so be it; with time, they’ll come to realize that it’s not fun being the last one who rushes into the classroom – or skipping breakfast as they don’t have time to eat. Your job is to keep the fridge full and make sure they have plates to eat from in the morning. The rest is up to them.

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Do: Give them control over their wardrobe

Another one that should be handed over to your child by the time they’re eagerly awaiting the sign of boobs or impatiently looking for stubbles in the mirror is the control of their style.

This might include a few changes that you would never dream of being seen in yourself – so remember that your teenager needs to explore their options, find themselves, and be a bit of a poser for a few years until they’ve sorted things out.

Give them the same control over their bedroom and let them style it so that they feel ‘at home’ and able to express themselves. It’s important at that age, you know.

Let them upgrade whatever they feel they have outgrown in the bedroom and encourage them to find their own style. There is a lot of cool stuff for teenagers out there, and you can see Fombag for details on great furniture to pimp up their room with.

Join them to the mall and continue shopping with them as long as they’re still fine with it – there will come a time when the two of you shopping together is out of the question until it’s suddenly alright again. It’s all very confusing.


Don’t: Make school projects and homework your responsibility

The reason we attend school as children and teenagers is to prepare us for the working life as an adult. When you double-check their homework, remind them of getting started on school projects, and rushing over to their school with whatever stuff they left at home, you’re not doing them any favors.

In fact, you are tearing down the work that the school and their teachers are trying to implement – and there is a reason that children are meant to adhere to deadlines and deliver their assignments. It’s teaching them responsibility and independence; the kind of values you won’t teach them by over-functioning.

When your teenager texts you that they left their books at home, simply answer with a sympathetic ‘sorry about that.’ Forgetting things and being distracted is a part of life and nobody will rush to your rescue when you show up at work without the things you need.


Do: Help them set up homework routines

The one thing you can do as a parent, though, is to guide them towards discipline and structure. Even though you should avoid reminding them to do their homework or going through it for them, you can absolutely help them to a good start by planning a work routine together.

Explain that you will, of course, expect them to stick to it on their own and that you’re just trying to give them the tools to succeed with their school year.

While they shouldn’t need your help to get to school or do laundry, your teenager will need your support more than ever these couple of years. Make it easy for them to have friends over by giving them a bedroom they love, reassure them when they’re feeling insecure – and, most importantly, keep showering them with love and support.

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