The Montfort Group

How To Support Your Teen Through High School

Do you worry about how your teenager is doing at school? Chances are they won’t tell you, in which case, you’ll be in the frustrating position of wanting to support your teen but being unable to. It’s a common problem for parents as their teenage children become more independent and remote, but fortunately, there are ways around it. Follow the simple tactics below to lift those barriers and re-kindle the bond between you.  Once you’ve got your son or daughter chatting, you’ll be halfway to finding out how things are at school and supporting them as need be, which will follow on naturally.

Offer a listening ear 

You probably make a habit of asking your teen how their school day went, but do you listen as closely as you could to their responses? Do they drop hints of negative aspects you could follow up or positive ones deserving celebration? If they say their day was boring, for instance, ask why, or in what way. A negative attitude could be linked to a problem of some kind. Drop-in a casual question or two, wrapped in small-talk, to glean a clearer picture.  If there is any problem, it could be study-related, social, practical or even medical, so put out feelers for different possibilities. But don’t push it – there’s always tomorrow.

Take an interest in their subjects

Ask your youngster what lessons they had today, and ask a few questions about them, such as what the teachers are like and whether they make their lessons at all fun. What is their favorite subject at the moment? Show some curiosity about it and be ready to learn – youngsters relish the opportunity to teach their seniors, especially their own parents. As you chat and share, you’ll be rebuilding those vital communication channels.

Offer encouragement, sympathy, and praise

Respond empathetically to any negative comments about school, like a friend. Remember – you’re a parent, not a teacher, and the more understanding you are, the more they’ll open up and confide in you. If they’re not working hard enough, there will be a reason for that which needs addressing, but a little sympathy and encouragement will go a long way to solving it. You can always find something to applaud, too, however minor, and there’s nothing like praise for spurring on a youngster.

Attend the parents’ evenings

It’s always worth attending the school’s parents’ evenings, even if your daughter or son is achieving good grades and seems happy. For one thing, it signals your care in their performance and well-being at school; for another, you may gain insightful information from their teachers about their progress or well-being. You will also be able to see for yourself what their teachers are like, adding more again to the picture. If you can’t make the appointment time offered, just ask for an alternative.

Share your own experiences

Remind your youngster that you were their age once, and had your share of ups and downs at school. This will draw a link between you, making it easier for them to talk about their experiences. Recount a mix of positive, negative and funny aspects of your school life. In fact, funny stories are a great way to break the ice and get them talking, too.

Never underestimate your value as a parent. Show your teenager that you’re still there for them, and they’ll head off to school with confidence, empowered by the sense of your steady, ongoing support.

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

Cory Montfort, MS, LPC-S

I completed my Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University where I specialized in working with individuals, couples, and families. I have extensive experience working within the mental health community facilitating groups, conducting assessments, counseling individuals, and performing crisis intervention. I hold an active License in Professional Counseling and am also a board-approved Counselor Supervisor for the state of Texas.

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