5 Things You Should Tell Your Teen Before the First Day of High School

Conversations Parents Should Have with Their Teens
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The start of high school can be an exciting—yet frightening time—for many teens. Before your teen starts high school, it’s essential to have specific conversations that will help your teen be prepared for the realities of teenage life.  Here are five things you should tell your teen before the first day of high school:

1. “Everyone else isn’t doing it.”

There’s a lot of talk about all the things teens claim to be doing—drinking, using drugs, and having sex to name a few. But, the truth is, many of those claims aren’t true.

In fact, research shows that clique stereotypes are often greatly exaggerated. Teens who believe the ‘jocks’ or ‘popular kids’ are using drugs or having sex, are more likely to engage in those activities. Unfortunately the notion that “everybody’s doing it” tends to fuel a lot of poor choices in high school.

Set the record straight. Talk to your teen about how some adolescents try hard to be perceived as cool. As a result, they’re likely to exaggerate the truth or tell stories about what they’re doing in an effort to gain recognition.

2. “I expect good grades from you.”

Teens will usually perform up to your expectations. And while it’s not healthy to put too much pressure on your teen, it’s important to set your expectations high enough that you’ll encourage him to do his best.

Reassure your teen that although there may be a fair amount of work in high school, the workload will be manageable. Stay involved in your teen’s education and take steps to ensure he remains motivated to get good grades.

3. “Kindness matters.”

Studies show teens are getting mixed messages about their parents’ values.  Many teens believe their parents want them to be smart, more than they want them to be kind.

Proactively talk to your teen about healthy values. Make it clear that you want your teen to be successful, but explain that you don’t want your teen to resort to rude or immoral behavior in an effort to rise to the top. Talk about showing kindness and compassion.

4. “You can earn freedom by showing me you can make good choices.”

Most teens want increased opportunities for independence. Show your teen that he can have more independence—but extra responsibility must be earned. Explain that he can show you when he’s ready for more freedom by doing well with the independence he already has. 

If he can’t arrive home on time for his current curfew, why would you allow him to stay out later? Or, if he can’t get his chores and his homework done on time, why would you want to trust him to learn how to drive? Explain to your teen that his ability to gain more freedom depends on his behavior.

5. “The decisions you make now can affect the rest of your life.”

Teens need to know that many of their decisions can impact them forever. Whether it’s an inappropriate post on social media, or a risky decision that doesn’t turn out well, there can be serious consequences for their choices.

Acknowledge to your teen that he’ll have plenty of opportunities to make decisions on his own—you can’t be there to see what he’s doing when he’s at school or out with friends. Impress upon him that it’s essential to think before he acts and make healthy decisions for himself, regardless of what others around him choose to do.

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