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How to help your teen for life after High School

My son is now a Senior in High School and so many thoughts and emotions have been running through my head. As a parent, you wonder…. have I done all I can to prepare my son/daughter for the challenges ahead? In general, during times of big transition in a child’s life many parents think about their not so stellar parenting moments and worry that those moments can have a negative impact on their child. All humans make mistakes, and parents are no exception. In my opinion, if you show your kids love and you provide them with emotional support, they will be OK as they go off on their own. Below are some things to consider if you have a child in high school. These tips can help in addressing any areas that may need your attention before they graduate from High School and as they prepare to transition into young adulthood. If you feel that counseling services can help support your teen, please seek help from a mental health professional. Turning Point Mental Health Center is available to help you and your child. However, if we are not your choice you can search for a mental health provider in your area by contacting your health insurance company or by asking a friend for recommendations.

1. Can your teen cope with difficult feelings?

The life of a teen is chaotic. It's messy. In high school and college, kids often deal with academic, social and romantic setbacks. They will have "proud" moments and they will also experience moments of increased self-doubt and embarassment. As a parent, it's imporant to oberve how your teen deals with interpersonal challenges and shaky confiendence as this will shed some light on their readiness for life on their own. Parents should oberve their child's decision making in order to determine the areas in which their child (ren) need additional support. It won't be a perfect send off but you can feel more confident that you have prepared them well!

2. How is your teen with self-care?

The answer is most likely, not great. Begin preparing your teen by having them schedule their own doctor's appointments. This will teach them planning, scheduling and follow through with tasks connected to their well-being. Teach them to recognize signs of mental health distress, such as chronic insomnia, irritability, or not enjoying the things that they once enjoyed. Teach them how to identify a mental health provider, whether through their college clinic or nearby providers.

3. Can your teen manage his/her time?

How is your teen with meeting deadlines? Help them find strategies to manage their time. This can include breaking down tasks into smaller steps, creating a task list that can be checked off. With each check mark, your child will experience a great sense of accomplishment! It's also very important to teach your child how to prioritize tasks since the academic workload in college will feel overwhelming otherwise.

4. Does your teen know when and how to ask for help?

Firstly, it's imporant to teach your child that it is OK to ask for help. Parents can guide their teens on diffrent scenarios in which they may require additional assistance. Some of these situations include medical, mental health, educational, and financial. Make a list with your teen of potential issues that may arise along with a plan of whom to contact or where to go for assistance. Having a plan will reduce the parent and teens anxiety.

5. How is your child with assessing risk?

Has your child been drunk or experimented with drugs in high school? If so, how did your child handle it? Did she drive while intoxicated? or get in a car with an intoxicated driver? This is not to say that these experiences are uncommon behaviors among high school students. But whether a parent has, or has not experienced this with their child, the conversation of alochol, drugs and safe sex is a must! This conversation must include a safety plan for dating and attending parties, bars, clubs, etc.

As your kids grow up, letting go of control over ther lives can be tough. Primarily because your primary instinct as a parent is to protect them. But if you prepare them with the right tools and you are available to them for "solicited" advise, they will be better able to handle the ups and downs of life. With each new challenge that they succesffully accomplish, they will gain greater confiende in their abilites! And what parent doesn't want that for their children? Wishing you and your child a great college experience!

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