How did we get here?
In a few short weeks, my favorite girl will be starting her junior year of high school. Even with the current state of the world thanks to the pandemic, it’s becoming all too real that soon, she will be heading off to college, and I’m starting to question whether I’ve taught her everything she needs to know. If you’re like me and you find yourself tackling the high school years, here are five things I think kids should know before they start high school.
- How to get home. You think your child knows how to get home because they are in the car with you and you go the route every day, but does she really know? Now that your child is in high school, chances are there will be plenty of occasions where someone else is dropping her off at home. Can your child make it back to the house without you? Thankfully, Google Maps and other navigation programs exist, but I believe this is something your child should know without the assistance of electronic devices. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I dream up scenarios where kids can’t get reception and they are stuck. What are they supposed to do then?
- How to responsibly use social media. The news is filled with stories of cyberbullying and video recordings of kids fighting and pictures winding up online of what they thought was private pictures. Even if your child is not cyberbullying or posting inappropriate photos, are the things they are saying appropriate? We’re living in a time where when kids apply to college or for a job, one of the first things a prospective school or employer does is Google your child’s name or find their social media accounts. Racist posts, profanity and countless other things have cost countless people their acceptance into colleges, jobs and other things. Teach your child had to responsibly use social media. Using an alias or deleting a post does not ensure that the information won’t be found later. Ask countless celebrities who now find their careers in jeopardy because of silly things they did ten or twenty years ago.
- Money management. Between birthdays, allowances and part-time jobs, kids can rack up on money these days. Take the time to make sure they know how to budget, tithe, save and spend responsibly. Many kids don’t know that every dime they get should not be spent. If this is an area where you struggle, now is a good time for you to get educated together. While you’re having the conversations, teach them the difference between credit and debit cards and the dangers of things like title and payday loans too. They will thank you later.
- How to study. Maybe your child breezed through elementary and middle school without having to put a lot of effort into school. As they prepare for high school, things go to another level. Teach them good study habits, like not doing homework or studying with the television or distracting music on, how to Google information and what places online are considered reliable sources. If you struggle in this area, check YouTube or find a friend or family member to help with this.
- What sex really means. I saved the best for last because I know sex isn’t a fun topic to discuss with your child. I’ll be the first to admit that, but wouldn’t you prefer your baby hear the truth from you rather than her little friends who know just as much as—or less than—she does? I’ve been talking to my daughter about sex since she was seven. Is that young? To some it may be, but when I started reading stories about how kids in second and third grade were having oral sex, I knew I had to be proactive. I am a proponent of abstinence, but I’m not stupid. I know kids have sex. I know kids and their friends talk about sex. We did it as kids, and as much as you may not want to admit it, your child will have the conversations too. Arm her with the truth sooner rather than later. Sexually transmitted diseases are real. Your child needs to know about sex, how to protect herself and what to do if she’s in a situation where she feels like she’s being pressured to have sex. If you feel like you are really not up to the task, I implore you to find someone to talk to your child or check out these wonderful resources by teen relationship expert (and my client Jackie Brewton). Your daughter’s life could depend on it.
What are some things you think children should know before starting high school?
Note: This is part 4 of a series. Part 1, Five Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting Kindergarten can be found here. Part 2, Five Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting Elementary School can be found here, Five Things Your Child Should Know Before Starting Middle School can be found here.