Talking to Your Teen About the Pressures of High School


The transition from middle school to high school is a difficult one. This is something most parents can vouch for. You’re personally going through a lot of emotional and developmental changes while trying to fit in with a bunch of other teens that are going through the same thing. Add to that the heavy workloads and stress to make it into a good college, you go through a lot during these next four years.

Naturally, parents want to shield their children from those realities and retain their innocence as long as they can. However, this is not the most effective way to parent your teen or help them to discover their true selves. It is instead necessary to show them that you understand where they’re coming from and that you’ll always be there if they need you. Preparing your teen for the transition from middle to high school starts with a simple talk about the pressures and how to best deal with them. Below, is a look at some of the common pressures they might experience:


Fear of Disappointing Others

Your teen has likely spent a better part of their eighth-grade year listening to adults tell them how important high school is. They’re told these are the years that count and that they’ll be watched closely both academically and socially. Though it’s true, these words can sometimes cause teenagers to fear to fail. They want to be the best, satisfy their parents, and hopefully get into a good school. The very idea of setback scares them.

You can help your teen by not being afraid to express your own flaws, failures, and setbacks. When they realize that even adults make mistakes, they don’t feel so much pressure. You can also remind them of their strengths and help them to find the silver lining in those instances where they do fail.


Social Pressure

High school is a diverse setting filled with children from all walks of life. As your child tries to identify with their peers, it can lead to some social pressures. They want nothing more than to fit in, have a bunch of friends, and make a name for themselves. This can sometimes lead to risky behavior including the abuse of drugs and alcohol, unprotected sex, eating disorders, and tragically, for some teens, this can even lead to suicide or acts of violence.

There are a few ways to support your teen here. You should start by educating yourself. Though peer pressure was alive and well when you were in school, there are different platforms and methods now. Learn about cyberbullying, teens and the side effects of long term opiate use, dating, and other teen social topics. Lastly, you can allow your child to grow into their own person. Within reason, it is important to allow them to explore, be around their friends and engage in social settings. This is essentially how they find out who they are, who their friends are, and right from wrong.


Workload and Responsibilities

If you thought your child brought home a lot of assignments while they were in middle school, the high school will make you think twice. It isn’t uncommon for schools to assign more projects to students as a means for them to delve deeper into topics. With more than one class, this could add up to hours of work every day after school.

Keep in mind also, most high schools require more of their students. Keeping track of their assignments, making it to class on time, juggling their studies and after-school activities, and even providing parents with notices for field trips and the like will now be their responsibility. The pressure can become overwhelming.

More responsibility is great for your teen, however, you don’t want them to become overwhelmed. Show them apps that can help them manage their assignments. Provide them with a list of people they can turn to at the school for additional help like counselors, teachers, and tutors. Express your confidence in their ability to be responsible and eventually they’ll start to see it for themselves.

High school is a lot more challenging than when you were in school. Before your teen heads off to their new school in the fall, make sure that you have a talk with them about these pressures. Be sure not to lecture them, but to open up, be honest, speak and listen to their concerns. Together, you can come up with solutions that will not only help them be great students but amazing adults.






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