High school years

The high school years will do much to determine the future direction of your child’s life. Older teens need some freedom to learn about life, but they are still dependent upon you, your support and your wisdom. Cultivating a close relationship with your teen will pay both of you back throughout your lives.

Frequent health issues:

Tips for helping your child in high school:

  • Offer a nutritious breakfast. Teens often prefer to sleep until the last minute and then rush off to school without eating, but this does not help them focus or learn. Make healthy foods available that they enjoy and can grab quickly (e.g. breakfast bars, whole wheat waffles, trial mix, nuts, fruit and yogurt).
  • Ask questions. Find out what is happening in his classes, what projects are due and when, and which classes he enjoys most and least.
  • Attend parent-teacher conferences. Ask questions to help you understand how he’s doing, from your child’s standpoint and his teacher’s.
  • Know your child’s friends and their families. It takes a village to raise healthy, safe kids.
  • Share your high school experiences. This helps your child better understand that you encountered many of the same feelings and challenges that they face.
  • Support homework time. Establish a quiet, well-lit space for them to work. Help him stick to a routine for getting homework done, put away and turned in on time. Don’t pester or nag, but be aware and intervene when necessary.
  • Beware of too many extracurricular activities. We see a lot of burned out kids and parents who are involved with a variety of sports, music, dance and clubs. Consider a rule that allows him to choose one or two extracurricular activities at a time. Even that will feel like a lot, especially if you have multiple kids.
  • Encourage sleep. Many teens barely get six hours of sleep. Their brains and bodies are still growing, and a minimum of eight hours a day is required, but 9 to 10 hours is often ideal during this time of rapid physical and emotional growth.
  • Keep tabs on Internet use. Your child can easily get in over his head in cyberspace. Parent filters can help, but you should also review his user history regularly. Also, keep the computer within eyeshot of your main living space.
  • Teach your teen about proper cell phone-use. If you give your teen a cell phone, educate him about inappropriate use to avoid cyber-bullying, car accidents and other problems. Know that cell phones with Internet capabilities do not have parent filters.
  • Be aware of behavioral changes. If you notice changes in your teen’s mood, grades, friends, or appearance, pay attention and find out what’s happening with your child. These may be signs of depression or another serious illness. Please talk to your pediatrician at Eugene Pediatric Associates if you are worried about your teenager.
  • Make your child’s school aware of any medical conditions. Talk to the school nurse and front office staff. If he needs emergency medications nearby, provide an up-to-date prescription with clear, written instructions. Then show them how and when to administer the medication in an emergency. Too often, children do not have medication at school when they need it, or school staff waits too long to give it. In an emergency, minutes matter.
  • Celebrate achievements, but don’t overemphasize grades. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Teens who are motivated to keep a perfect 4.0 GPA may feel intense inadequacy and self-reproach when reality hits later in life.
  • Keep talking and listen even more. Teens listen to what you say and watch what you do. They also want you to hear what they have to say – and don’t say. Try to be the parent you wanted and needed as a teenager. Be the parent your child will admire when he becomes a parent. It’s not easy! The doctors at Eugene Pediatric Associates are here to help, so please talk to us anytime you’re concerned about your teenager.

Help them prepare for life after high school:

  • Talk to your teen about career options. Help them determine what kind of education and job experiences they will need after high school to reach their goals, but don’t overwhelm them. School counselors are a great resource for information.
  • Don’t worry if they change career plans frequently. It’s normal.
  • Look into colleges early on. Find out admission requirements for two- and four- year colleges – if they plan to attend college – during the first couple years of high school.
  • Encourage your teen to volunteer. Help them identify opportunities for internships and job shadowing to provide a sense of responsibility and to get him excited about his future.

For additional information, see teen issues for girls or teen issues for boys.

School matters

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