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Transition Your Teen into High School

Nov 30, 2007
Each year across the world teens endure their first day of high school. For some of them this is a day they've been waiting for and eagerly anticipating for months -- if not years. For others, this is a day that they've been dreading and which has them feeling nauseous. For those who welcome the challenge of high school, parents have a fairly easy job of just keeping their teen's enthusiasm under control, and not permitting them to over-schedule extra curricula activities by reminding them of an increase in homework assignments.

For those who have teens who wish they never had to go to high school, and regard the first day as something to be feared, parents have a much tougher challenge. No matter how much they want to keep their child safe and happy, they have to validate their child's fears while at the same time encouraging them that high school may not be as bad as they think it's going to be.

Being a freshman at high school is a stressful period for those who feel they don't fit in. It could be that your teen is going to be acting out of character by becoming moody or irritable during the first few weeks until things begin to settle at school. If things are going particularly badly, your child may even have some health issues such as headaches, stomach issues, and/or sleeping problems.

Stand back for a couple of weeks and see if your teen is able to sort this all out for themselves. Once the initial new school stress is over, and things start to get familiar, your child may settle down and things return to normal. It's not easy to stand back and watch your child suffer, but at this stage it's best to see how they handle things on their own before making a bigger issue out of what may be just teething problems.

What you must do is make yourself available to them so that they know if they want to talk to you about things, they can do so. Make sure to tell them that discussing any issues you have doesn't mean that you're going to immediately ring the school and demand for them to do something to improve their situation (even if this is what you'd really like to do!), but that you will listen and if they want your advice, you'll give it. Sometimes just knowing that someone's there to listen without judgment is helpful to teens who aren't sure what they're really feeling about a situation they haven't faced previously.

Be supportive of your teen. They aren't the sharks ruling the lower school, but have now become small fish in the high school and that's sometimes a difficult mental transition to make. They need to prove themselves once again in order to gain access to teams and clubs. This isn't easy for a child -- and despite the fact that your teen is beginning high school; they are still a child -- who doesn't have an abundance of self-confidence. Help them practice and encourage their efforts to join new activities as a way of reaching out to become more social in their new environment.

Remember that despite the fact that your teen isn't settling easily into high school you still to enforce boundaries and rules so they keep to what's acceptable and what's not. Make the time to discuss what you expect of them so that they are very clear what they should and shouldn't do.

Although most cases of high school anxiety disappear once teens settle into their new environment, there are some for whom it becomes a bigger issue. If your teen is still experiencing problems after a month or so, you should make a time to speak with the school counselor to see what advice they have for parents in this situation. Don't let the behavior go on unheeded because if it lasts more than a couple of months, then it's more likely to get worse instead of better.
About the Author
Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at http://www.aimhightutors.com/blog
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