Home     K-12    

6 tips to survive your teen's transition to middle and high school

Thrive during school transitions

Thrive During School Transitions

Kids transitioning into middle and high school deal with anxieties about friends, expectations, schedules and rules. Their parents share these stresses PLUS worry about their teen's changing behavior, new communication patterns and changes in the parent-teen relationship.

Sue Blaney says: Parents need to prepare for these big family transitions, too.

Successful parents of teenagers are knowledgeable, confident and connected with each other and with their teens. Here's what parents can do:

1. Parents need to be their teenager's biggest supporters. Teens go to school where they face intense peer scrutiny, sometimes resulting in feelings of inadequacy. While holding kids accountable, parents need to bolster their teen's confidence, and provide a safe haven for their teenagers when at home.

2. Parent involvement in teenagers' school life is essential, and it is directly associated with increased academic success. Parent involvement changes at the secondary level, as kids take on more responsibility. But parents need to be careful not to pull back too much, and find appropriate ways to stay involved.

3. Parents must proactively learn to know other parents in the community. Working parents may need to work extra hard on this as teens' social circles widen. Connected parents, in a connected community, provide a safety net for teens, and parents must take responsibility for creating this.

READ MORE: What's in your medicine cabinet?

4. Parents need to gain the confidence it takes to say "no" and to make tough decisions at times. (Parents really can "just say no" to IM.)

5. Parents need to stay connected despite the fact that communication may change. Teens may not always tell their parents everything that is happening in their life, or what they face. Parents should try not to take this personally, as it can represent a positive developmental step for kids. However, smart parents find ways to share quality time with their teenagers so they have a good sense about what is going on.

6. Parents need to increase their active listening... listening for names of new friends and classmates, listening for comments about new behaviors and interests, listening for clues about changes, being sure to support the positive ones.

Sue Blaney, the author of Please Stop the Rollercoaster! How Parents of Teenagers Can Smooth Out the Ride, provides this resource guiding parents to examine the range of issues they are likely to face while raising their teens. In her work with parents and school educators, Sue observes that parents of teenagers are often isolated and lacking the confidence and knowledge it takes to set necessary limits while providing appropriate support.

As a communications specialist, she advises parents and secondary schools in how to increase parent involvement and improve school-parent communication. She is a certified Professional Behavior Analyst, with a degree in communications from Northwestern University, and has spent 25 years in training and development, marketing and sales.