August 13, 2013 —

Teen’s interests, activities, and friends are forever evolving, and as a parent it can be hard to keep up with these changes. Starting each new school year presents its own challenges for teens as well as parents, especially the year teens make the transition from middle to high school. In my county where I serve as a high school nurse, the transition occurs as eighth graders move into ninth grade as freshmen in high school. If your teen is making the transition this year, there are a few things I think you should be aware of:

1. Peer Pressure
The older teens get the more they are exposed to peer pressure to engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse. Most teens have a strong desire to fit in and don’t always realize the dangers or repercussions of the choices they make when looking for acceptance from their peers. In order to help my children manage potential risky situations, we came up with an agreed upon code word that they can say or text to me when needed to help them say no to peer pressure without being excluded from social activities in the future. I recommend coming up with a code word and reminding your teen that if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation, they should use the agreed upon code word as an exit strategy.

2. Bullying
Being bullied is one of the most painful experiences that anyone, especially teens, can go through. Today, teens not only face bullying at school, but online as well, making it difficult for parents to pick up on the warning signs from the onset. By monitoring your teen’s online behavior, talking to them early and often, and getting to know their friends, you can do your best as a parent to make sure your teen has positive self-esteem and confidence and feels safe at home and at school.

3. Dangerous Teen Trends
There are always new dangerous teen trends, which is why it is so important for parents to educate themselves and be aware of new trends as they emerge. A few of the current dangerous trends among teens includes robo-tripping, which is when teens use over-the-counter cough medicines to get high, using bath salts to get high, and inhaling alcohol. Make sure that you are looking out for warning signs and stay active in your teen’s life by setting aside time to talk to them about school, after school activities, and their friends.

I truly believe that one of the best things parents can do is keep an open-door policy with their teen and remind them that they can come to you to talk about anything at any time. What steps have you taken to prepare your teen for the transition from middle to high school? Share your tips in the comments below!