Starting high school can be an exciting and challenging time for young people, and parents play an important role in supporting their child’s well-being during this transition. This rite of passage is a transition over time, not just a once-only event. There may be many transitions on their journey at Rangitoto College, eventually preparing to make a further transition beyond high school. Here are some pieces of advice to parents on the well-being of young people as they navigate their way through the first term of the year.
Keeping communication open is very important. While not always easy, it is good to talk about your child’s experiences at high school. This should include any challenges or concerns that they may have. Do not rush to solve the problem for them. Listen without judgement and validate their feelings. Let them know that you are there to support them no matter what. When a young person feels heard, they become more open to listen to the pearls of wisdom you may offer.
Help them to build a support system. If they are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to help your child build a network of support both within the school and outside it too. This should include friends, family members, teachers and counsellors. Encourage them to become involved in extracurricular activities. In doing this, not only does it help to build stronger connections to the school community by doing something they enjoy, it ensures their mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being is firmly kept in balance.
Not everything goes to plan, so teaching them some coping skills is helpful. This builds resilience. School can be stressful, so teaching coping skills such as physical exercise, mindfulness, meditation, and deep breathing is good. Encourage them to adopt a good work ethic, but at the same time to take breaks when they need them and to prioritise self-care.
Keep an eye on your child’s mental health and look for signs of poor well-being. Mood changes are a normal part of adolescence, but if sad thoughts are evident often, look out for signs of anxiety and depression. Anxiety is not always a bad thing. It can be there to motivate us. It is built into us as a defence mechanism. However, when it is there all the time, it feels terrible and a young person often needs some help to overcome it. If you have any concerns about this, contact the Guidance Department, or talk to a medical professional.
Remember, too, to keep boundaries and expectations. In their journey of increased independence and freedom, it is crucial to set boundaries and expectations for your child. This includes rules around the safe use of technology, curfew times, and academic expectations.
Lastly, keep in mind that every child is different, so it’s important to tailor your approach to your child’s individual needs and personality. By supporting your child’s well-being as they embark on this year at high school, you can help set them up for success both academically and personally.
SchoolTV has a good Special Report on “Transition to High School” that I have shared in the past. It is particularly useful for parents of students new to Rangitoto College. To access this Special Report click here.
If you have any concerns about your son or daughter, please do not hesitate to contact the Rangitoto College Guidance Department, or reach out for some other medical or professional help.
Jay Smith, Head of Guidance