Weekly Feature

2010-08-18 / Lifestyles

Talk about school transitions with your teenager

Everyone desires to be comfortable in his or her surroundings, and most of us succeed. But transitions to new surroundings can be filled with fear and anxiety.

While every child is at risk for using substances, the danger triples for a young person entering high school. For youth entering middle school, the threat is also alarming, as this is an equally high time of transition.

The Drug-Free Action Alliance says, “Most kids in younger grades tend to have strong anti-substance use attitudes. But the move to middle and high school brings with it a shift in attitudes, due in part to increased exposure to other students who may be drinking, smoking and using other drugs. Many of these students are older or are considered “popular” and may appeal to your child’s natural desire to be like them and be liked by them.”

The Alliance suggests that parents:

• Ask questions about substance use and reinforce no-use messages.

• Make clear your expectations and consequences for breaking rules.

• Know where your child is and who he or she is with. Do not allow your child to hang out with friends unsupervised.

As your children grow into adolescence, they will experience many transitions —cognitive, emotional and social. One of the big changes you will notice is that you don’t seem to always speak the same language anymore. This phenomenon is called “Teen Speak” and it’s important for parents to learn this new dialect. Later, you will also need to learn to “techno” speak so that you can text with your child.

It is important to understand these changes so that you can support and guide your young people through Positive Family Communications (Asset No. 2). Young

X people who possess this asset turn to their parents for advice and support.

Here is a good way to gauge how well members of your family communicate. Throw out a statement such as, “Wow, today is Thursday.” Then ask what people think about that. Someone could say, “Don’t remind me. It’s garbage day.” Or “Pizza in school

omorrow,” or “ One more day and the weekend is here.” Did you ever realize that Thursday meant so many different things?

Another day, try the “What Would You Do If” game and ask some questions that you think your kids might face in school. It goes like this. What would you do if you got to school and didn’t like what was on the lunch menu? Or what would you do if you forgot your locker combination? The more you play, the better you get and the smoother the transition. Have fun.

Comments or questions? Do you have a topic you would like us to ask young people or adults? Send them to Sally@ eccpasa.org. We would love to hear from you.

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