Dear Teen Parenting Coach

Q: How Can I Help My Teen Transition Smoothly to High School?

The transition to high school is rough for most teens, but kids with ADHD may feel the environmental (and social) shakeup more strongly than their peers. Here’s what parents can do to make high school prep easier for a nervous teen.

Q: “My child is going into high school next year, and I know the new environment is going to shake things up. How can I help prepare her for the new location and responsibilities?”

Some teens don’t worry about the transition, while others are petrified by the uncertainty. In the weeks or months leading up to the transition, have conversations with your child to find out where her feelings falls on the spectrum.

Help your teen anticipate what she might encounter at the new school, and develop a script for each likely scenario. This exercise can be especially helpful for kids with anxiety. You can talk through, “What do you think might happen?” or, “If this happens, what might you say to yourself?” Having responses in mind can provide reassurance for worried teens.

You know what going to a new school is like, and your teen doesn’t, but that doesn’t guarantee that she will listen to advice from mom or dad. As an alternative, search out one friendly person in the new school – a guidance counselor, a teacher, or an older student – who will sit down with your child, and say, “Here’s what I wish I knew when I went from eighth grade to high school.”

[Are You Ready to Roll? Navigating High School with ADHD]

Try to maintain schedules and routines that worked in middle school whenever possible.

Coordinate a daily check-in with the school guidance counselor or resource room teacher for the first three months of school. Gradually taper off the emails, phone calls, or visits after that if your child is doing fine.

Schools often wait too long — until the kid falls apart — to offer resources. If your teen has a 504 plan or IEP, frontload supports at the beginning of the year.

This advice came from “The Teen Brain on ADHD,” a February 2018 ADDitude webinar lead by Peg Dawson, Ed.D., that is now available for free replay here.

Peg Dawson, Ed.D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.

Do you have a question for ADDitude’s Dear Teen Parenting Coach? Submit your question or challenge here.

The opinions are suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.