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As with all stages of development, parents are a critical factor. in helping their children succeed and enjoy life during the high school years.
As with all stages of development, parents are a critical factor. in helping their children succeed and enjoy life during the high school years. / George Doyle/Getty Images

Students go from being kings and queens at their middle school to the bottom of the food chain in high school. Parents, you can be a key factor in helping kids succeed and enjoy this gateway to adulthood.

Developmentally, adolescence is when peers become dominant. As with all stages of development, parents are a critical factor. Parents need to keep communication open while respecting a teen’s privacy. It’s a tricky balancing act to say the least. Some advice in key areas:

Friends.

There is a big difference between a 14-year-old freshman and an 18-year-old senior. Socially, high schoolers are exposed to a variety of risky behaviors (sex, drugs, etc.) and are faced with many decisions. Encourage solid friendships with kids you feel are good influences.

Campus.

Similarly, they are entering a new and often larger school with lots of paths offered. Students should explore the campus and find their classes before the first day. Encourage them to learn about the school and research ways to get involved.

Home.

Keep family dinner going: It may be one of the few times you hear what’s going on! Stay connected by watching their favorite TV shows with them or doing an activity they enjoy.

Academics.

Teach your kids to take their studies seriously and provide help if needed — but keep your own expectations for their future in check.

Stacy Kaiser is a licensed family therapist.

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