Secondary school is arguably one of the most formative times of any person’s life. Before entering, students still have a great deal left to be moulded regarding personality, drive, career and social interactions. By the time they leave, many young people will be in roughly the form that they will remain throughout a long period of their lives. The factors that influence this development are many, and the people who can do the most to make sure children grow into wonderful adults are their parents. Though in many respects secondary school is a time when parents must let go of the reins and allow their child to make their own decisions, it doesn’t mean they should switch off entirely. Here are some things to think about to help your child get through this incredibly important time.
Top Tips for Parents
- Choose a school that will make your child happy. This does not always mean the best equipped or most expensive. Many schools have speciality areas that they focus on, and if your child has a particular interest in the arts or sports, for example, it’s far better to match them to a school that can specifically cultivate that interest. It’s also important to consider friends- if most of your child’s friends are going to a particular school, forcing them to go elsewhere may make them unhappy. Another decision that cannot be made lightly is whether to go with a co-ed or single-sex school. They both have their ups and downs, and it’s up to you to determine which one better matches your child.
- Be supportive, but not overbearing. All kids need to feel encouraged, but there is a fine line between encouragement and pressure. Encouragement means they know you will be happy if they succeed, which is a great motivating factor. Pressure means they know you will be disappointed if they fail, which can cause them to become scared to try and negative about themselves. Ensure that you achieve a good balance, so that your child wants to simply do their best.
- Listen to your child. This is possibly one of the most important, yet often forgotten tips about parenting teenagers through high school. Sometimes your child will make decisions that you deem foolish or silly, and a common first reaction is to tell them that and leave it there. But it’s essential to listen to how your child is feeling, and why they are acting the way they are. There are often deep-rooted reasons for any behaviour, and the only way to discover these is to just listen. Furthermore, make an effort to find out more about what’s going on with your children’s friends and social life. This will be one of the biggest influences on the development of your child, so it’s essential you know who they’re hanging out with.
- But don’t pry. Teenagers like to feel they have privacy and space. If you’re too inquisitorial about their friends and classes, they are likely to clam up and try to conceal even more. Instead, ask them about it like a normal conversation, and allow them to tell you what they want to without being judged or chastised. By building up this kind of trust, you will have a much better relationship in future.
- No matter what happens, make sure they know you love them. Things will not always go smoothly, but they can always be fixed so long as your child trusts you and knows that you are there for them always.
Getting a teenager through high school can be a challenge for many parents, but when it’s so important to their future development, it’s essential to make an effort and support your child as best you can.