As every parent knows, teenagers’ interests, activities and friends can change as often as their favorite song. It can be difficult to keep up with these developments, especially as they make the transition to high school.
In my county where I serve as a high school nurse, the transition from middle to high school occurs when the eighth graders move into high school as ninth graders. This transition brings new faces and new peer-pressures as several middle school classes are channeled into one big high school. If your teen is making the transition in the coming weeks, here are a few things to watch for, and tips for helping your teen navigate these new waters.
1. Peer Pressure
As teens transition from middle school to high school they are exposed to significantly more peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors like medicine abuse. Teens have a strong desire to fit in with their peers, however, they may not always recognize the risks or consequences of their choices. As a precautionary measure, I discussed peer pressure with my children and we came up with an agreed upon code word they can use via text message or phone call. When I hear or see this code word, I can help them get out of an unhealthy situation while they save face with their peers. Before the school year starts, I encourage parents to talk to their teens about the types of peer pressures they may face in high school and develop an exit strategy to help them get out of an uncomfortable or risky situation.
Being bullied is a painful experience for anyone, especially teens as they adjust to new classmates, teachers and courses. However, with the evolution of social media, teens not only face bullying at school, but online as well, making it hard for parents to pick up on the warning signs from the beginning. By monitoring your teen’s online and offline behavior, talking to them early and often and getting acquainted with their friends, you can do your best as a parent to ensure your teen has positive self-worth, confidence and feels safe both at home and at school.
3. Dangerous Teen Behaviors
As new dangerous teen behaviors continue to surface, it is critical that parents educate themselves and others to better prepare for these trends as they arise. A few examples of current dangerous trends among teens includes: robo-tripping, which is when teens abuse over-the-counter cough medicines to get high, using bath salts to get high as well as inhaling alcohol. Look out for the warning signs of these risky behaviors and stay highly-involved in your teen’s life by making time to talk to them about school, extra-curricular activities and their friends.
As with every life stage, one of the best things parents can do for their teen during this transitional period is to maintain open communication and remind them to come to you to talk about anything at any time. Making your home a welcoming and safe space for teens will go a long way towards making high school a wonderful time for growth and maturity.
To keep your teen’s transition top of mind, pin or share my three best tips below.