Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keeping Your High School Junior on Track

Entering the second half of junior year with my twin daughters is like replaying a song. I had forgotten the tune after traversing this age with my five older kids, but it's coming back to me. Real fast.

Junior year of US high school can be treacherous. There are so many passages before these kids:thinking about college, planning college visits, figuring out oneself, learning to drive, keeping up with school, SAT preparation and exams, figuring out meaningful summer plans, staying fit, contributing to school life, and managing complex social lives. Students at this age are really stretching and reaching, trying to go it alone, working to maintain their privacy while they experiment with new friends, ideas, and lifestyles. As parents it can be daunting to know when to step in, how to be supportive, how and when to give them space, and how to empower them without ditching them.

Let's just take a few of the challenges before us and how we adults can help:

Driving: OK, so I try not to grab the passenger side dashboard when we stop within inches of the car ahead of us. She is learning to gauge these things. When driver's ed became just too stressful and the only advantage it really afforded our family was the ability to eventually drive themselves to school, I said dropping out was ok. I don't mind chauffeuring; it's a fine time to catch up on their news, or vocab words or in their case, sleep.

Fatigue: It's our job to say no when the bags under the eyes and the pallor are more telling than the wish to go out on the weekend. In my office kids tell me all the time that they are not allowed to do something "because my parents won't let me." They understand that we are supposed to put limits on their exuberance. Sometimes they actually welcome it.

Illness: Keeping kids healthy is a matter of food, sleep, exercise, stress management and good health care. With respect to the latter--two simple rules:Wash your hands and Get your shots! All teens should have had a booster on their Pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine (tag-teamed with the Tetanus booster);flu vaccine (both seasonal and H1N1);and meningitis booster (if they received Menomune more than five years ago).

NEXT ENTRY: Stress management for your Junior

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