Ensuring young people adapt to secondary school

It’s well known now that the transition to secondary school can be challenging for many young people.

small lab in a secondary school The move from being the biggest fish in a small pond, to being the smallest, along with a much more demanding environment, proves to be a big challenge for young people.

No longer just have one teacher who knows you by name, but one for each subject, to get to know can be a cause of stress.

The importance of fitting in

Making new friends and juggling a new schedule can be a lot for 12 and 13 year-olds to manage.

This coincides with being right in the middle of adolescence with all the hormones, mood swings and insecurities about fitting in.

Unfortunately, feelings of anxiety can often be expressed as anger or rage. As a parent you may be well aware of this and have been on the receiving end of some tantrums.

Unhappy schooldays

Many young people can go through times where they don’t like school but it’s necessary to get to the bottom of it and try to not let it persist.

Make it regular practice to talk about everything that is going on with them, not just school, showing an interest in all that’s going on.

If they say they don’t like school, try to tease it out with them, like during a walk or when you’re driving somewhere.

How to use rewards

Go easy on using reward systems. You’re encouraging them in effective goal-setting and problem solving on their own with your support. These skills do need to be learned and not incentivised.

Of course if something is creating great distress, it can be OK the odd time to encourage your son or daughter to face up to something or stick with something for a few weeks and say you’ll take them out for a treat.

Helpful communication

This is a time where young people can need some assistance in learning to communicate their feelings more constructively.

In the long run, this will help them with relationships inside and outside of the family and hopefully help anger be expressed in a more healthy way.

Be open-minded when listening

Being listened to and understood goes a long way to helping young people feel supported. You can’t solve all their problems for them, nor should you try, but work with them to work out solutions.

Be open to talking and working through ideas about how they might make friends, identifying ways to find stuff to enjoy outside of class, like sports or other hobbies, explore ways to make homework or particular subjects less stressful.

School for the whole family

The secondary school years can be challenging for the whole family. Your son or daughter is under new pressures. These can be school work, or issues that can be caused during friendships and relationships.

Schedules are busy and young people are going through a time where they need more independence. Stay positive as much as you can and keep the lines of communication open with your son or daughter.

Share your concerns with someone else for your own support.

It’s through the secondary schooling that young people need your help and support more than ever and may not be as quick to ask for it.

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