Do you have a child heading to secondary school for the first time? Here are top tips for parents on the transition to starting secondary school.
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Many children will be starting secondary school after the summer and entering the teen years can bring a new set of challenges for parents. Here are some tips to help you navigate this new time.
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Tips for Parents for Your Child Starting Secondary School
The more responsibility you give, the more responsible they are
Encourage and support your teenager to undertake new challenges to smooth the transition to Senior School. Use the summer as an opportunity of giving them opportunities to become more independent and self-reliant.
Allow them opportunities to make decisions for themselves and that teaches them to be more responsible and accountable for their decisions in the later teen years if they have had lots of opportunities to learn from making a bad decision.
They need practice making decisions
I remember my daughter at twelve wanted to spend a significant amount of her birthday money on a mini fridge for her bedroom, which I knew she would regret. I found it hard to hang back and wanted her to use the money for a cd/radio player which her sisters had done at that age.
I knew that my challenge was to let her make the wrong choice and live with the consequences of her decision; however allowing her to buy the mini fridge (which she regretted) meant she learnt from making a poor decision!
Allow your teen to experience the consequences of their actions and to live with their decisions
Younger teens need to take responsibility for their actions and to live with the consequences of the decisions they make. Otherwise, how can they make the right decisions that many of our older teens face?
Ensure they know they are responsible for the decisions they make and they have to live with the consequences of their decisions. Lots of opportunities to make decisions early on helps them make better choices later on.
Set challenges for your teen to increase competence and self esteem
Over the summer, perhaps a project to paint the bedroom with their parent is a great opportunity for ‘quality time’ and to teach a new skill. Allow them to decide how the room should be decorated.
My daughter at 13 had selected some IKEA furniture and she put it together by herself over a weekend. This gives her confidence and she felt very competent – both indicators of self-esteem.
Having someone who believes you can do it helps, and it needs to be safe to make a mistake. However, if you want a teen happy to undertake a challenge like this, you need to start when they are very young allowing them to do things and taking the time to teach them new skills to encourage independence.
The overprotective parent does too much for the child and disables the child over time as they give up asking and saying; ‘I want to do it for myself’
Mornings begin the night before
Give them an alarm clock and allow them responsibility for getting themselves up. Set a boundary otherwise, that you call them once only each morning. Children from the age of seven can make their own lunches if parents take the time to show them how to do it and give lots of encouragement and support.
If that has not happened, maybe now is the time. Setting a good example of together setting things up the night before school, bags packed, uniform laid out with shoes and sporting equipment.
Getting up half an hour earlier creates a calmer and happier home
If you want to learn from my mistakes, get up earlier! Getting up at the last minute guarantees a stressed parent who is low on patience and where there is no time for the inevitable last minute emergencies.
Order and routine really help in the transition and in coping with change, so setting a good example with ‘To Do’ lists the night before, going to bed early so you can get up earlier and ‘Being the change you want to see’ is what really works.
It really helps when you ‘Catch them being good and remember to tell them what they have done right’. The more you mirror out how competent and capable they are, the more they see it in themselves.
They also need to feel lovable, therefore when they make a mistake; remember to ‘Separate the Child from the Behaviour’ and say something like ‘I love you however that behaviour is not okay in this house; when I calm down, I will talk to you about it’.
Homework is about routine, therefore as soon as they come in from school, that they sit at the kitchen table and have a snack while taking out their books. ‘As soon as ‘ is a great response to any request they have… out with the friends, everything is possible… as soon as the homework is done.
More Tips for Parenting Teens
- Connect into and be interested in your child’s life
- Set routines around homework, dinnertime, bedtimes
- Role Model To do Lists, bed early, up early, allowing adequate time
- Doing less teaches them to do more
- Build self-esteem by mirroring their worth & goodness
- Show you believe in them
- Enable them by giving them opportunities
- Help them become independent & self-reliant
Sheila O’Malley is one of Ireland’s leading Parenting experts who established Practical Parenting to offer support and training to Parents. She facilitates many corporate programs and delivers talks around personal and family wellbeing.
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Have your say! Anything else that you found useful or can share about your child starting secondary school? Tell us in the comments below