9 Lessons for High School Freshmen (And Their Parents)

high school kids walking and talking

Reaching high school is an emotional milestone for most parents and their teen-aged children. Parents might grapple with a range of emotions from fear and excitement to hope and anxiety in the weeks and days leading up to that first day of high school.

Maybe you’re one of these parents, who like me, couldn’t believe how quickly the time had passed. As your son or daughter prepared for high school, you might have asked yourself, “When the heck did this happen anyway?”

This transition from middle to high school—when your child becomes a young adult—can be beneficial for parents and kids if you all focus on the lessons that will come from this life change. Change is exciting and refreshing. Change gives you the chance to make a new start. But … it can also be scary.

If your son or daughter has recently started high school, consider sharing this advice to show your support for this major life change. Maybe tack this up on the refrigerator or send it via text.

“You very well might find yourself fumbling and bumbling your way around the first day, or first week, or first month! As the youngest and the most inexperienced, there absolutely will be times when you feel awkward and self conscious. That is simply a part of life. Everything is hard until it’s easy. This space of newness is where you have the opportunity to test what feels right to you, as well as what doesn’t. This is where the growth happens and your confidence can blossom. I love you with my whole heart, and I am beyond excited to see you grow into the exceptional person you’re going to be. To you and everyone else, share your light with the world and remember we are all here to make a difference.”

Being supportive also means placing new responsibilities on your son or daughter. This doesn’t mean adding extra chores to their list. It means outlining the values that you expect them follow and adopt as they move through high school and into adulthood. Here are nine to get you started.

  1. Be kind. Reach out. When you see the kid who is uncomfortable, who doesn’t have any friends, or is being picked on in some way, be the person who steps in and does the right thing. Say hello. Be inclusive. Kindness is always the right path.
  2. Take school seriously, yet don’t take yourself too seriously. Straight As will be harder to achieve in high school. The more effort you put into life, the more rewards you get back. It’s worth it! But keep in mind that life is much easier when you learn to laugh at yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  3. We all need friends to help us through life. To make lifelong friends, be a good friend. Be trustworthy. Honor your word. Keep confidences. And remember to laugh and be silly. No matter what age you are.
  4. Attitude is everything. Do your best. Forget the rest. And remember to smile.
  5. Check in with yourself regularly. What makes you feel good? What doesn’t make you feel good? Learn to recognize and trust your inner knowing. It will keep you on your true path.  
  6. Everyone has struggles. Talk to me, or any trusted adult ... about anything and everything. There are really no issues we can’t handle together.
  7. High school can be full of drama. Many people choose drama, consciously or unconsciously. You have the power to walk away from the drama and the people who create it. Don’t live in someone else’s story. Write your own. You are a product of who you surround yourself with. Choose wisely.  
  8. It’s OK to fail. The parents of Spanx founder Sara Blakely celebrated failure because it meant their children were trying. Blakely says her father would regularly ask Blakely and her brother, “'What did you fail at this week?' And if we didn’t have something to tell him, he would actually be disappointed,” Blakely said in a February 2016 interview with CNN.
  9. Have fun. Try new things, get better at what sports and hobbies you’ve already started, and meet new girls and boys. You may be drawn to the ones that are cute on the outside, make sure they’re cute on the inside, too.

Try to embrace the newness with the butterflies and the excitement. Be brave!

Kids aren’t always as excited as we are about mindfulness practices, like meditation and yoga. But children have a lot to gain from learning how to cultivate mindfulness on their own. Click here to get our free 8-week mindfulness for kids program. 

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About the Author
Traci Porterfield

Traci Porterfield

Human Resources Consultant
Traci Porterfield is a dating coach, matchmaker, relationship coach, and the CEO and founder of Love by Design , a personalized matchmaking and relationship coaching service, as well as creator of the online course, Love Shifting . With a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and over 20 years of experience in corporate recruiting and coaching, she founded her business after serving many years on the Executive Leadership Team with personal development author, speaker and success guru, Tony Robbins. In addition, Traci is currently serving as a consultant and Executive Leadership Team member for The Chopra Center. Her unique combination of personal development, professional recruiting, and...Read more