Surviving High School
Starting high school is a biggie. Now that I spend a lot of my days working with teens, let me pass on some of the practical tips I’ve come across through my work, that might help your almost-highschooler make the transition from grade eight to nine.
Mom to mom, might I suggest that you wait until after school has started to do back-to-school shopping? You might have an idea of what your child would like to wear or would need for supplies, but once he starts school next month, you might both find that the items you’ve picked aren’t what he wants to hit that balance between fitting in and standing out. What a waste of time and money that can be. Instead, let him wear the shorts and tees he’s been wearing all summer for the first few weeks, then give him a budget and let him decide how to spend it. If you think he’s not quite ready for that level of responsibility, around Thanksgiving, go over what you think he needs and what he would like to have in his wardrobe, and help him set a budget and go shopping together. Great opportunity to learn about money management – and you increase the likelihood he’ll actually wear his back-to-school clothes!
Most kids I work with come in anxious about the increase in workload that is apparently around the corner with the start of high school. Reassure your child that many, many kids before her have made the transition from grade eight to grade nine and lived to tell the tale. While this seems to be a common tactic used by elementary teachers to get students to listen up, the common experience seems to be that the students are eased into this increased workload. Just focus on putting one foot in front of the other and doing what needs to be done, and most kids find they rise to the challenge just fine.
Friendships are very important to kids of this age group, but encourage your kids not to stress out about how they’ll maintain friendships with their current besties. High school offers so many opportunities to meet new friends. Instead of feeling anxious about how they’ll maintain friendships that are very important to them right now, remind your kids that they have no idea what great friendships they could make once they actually get into school and start seeing all those new faces. Encouraging them to join clubs that speak to their interests is a great way to branch out and connect with others with similar interests.
And here’s one to soothe some of your concerns: there seems to be more talking about drinking, than actual drinking. It seems to be a bit of posturing in a misguided attempt to seem cool, but not as many kids, certainly in the younger grades, seem to be doing it as gossip and perhaps the media would have you believe. Your best defense against problems with alcohol is a strong relationship with your children, an open dialogue about the realities and dangers of drinking, and a hobby or sport that they are passionate about. Having a passion is an exceptionally strong positive influence on kids, giving them something to focus on and define them in a positive way, a peer group who may naturally discourage drinking, and a built-in excuse to escape a situation they may not feel comfortable in (“Thanks for the offer, but I can’t drink tonight; I’ve got practice in the morning and the coach would kill me if I showed up hung-over.”).
It can be nerve-wracking to make a change like a new school, but knowledge is power, and perhaps knowing more of what to expect will help your child feel more confident walking into high school for the first time.