Originally published in the Lakelands Leader in our advice column the Laudable Life

Q: My daughter is growing up and it terrifies me! She’s gone from my little girl, to my soon to be high schooler. Times have changed. When I was in high school I didn’t have to worry about the social aspect of socializing such as snapchat, Instagram, iMessage, or Facebook. I see that high schoolers are being exposed to more adult interactions earlier and that worries me. It also doesn’t help that my daughters assigned high school, Northwest, is different from where the bulk of her friends are going, QO. I feel like this is a lot for my daughter to deal with on her own. How am I supposed to ease her and my anxiety when so much of this generation is a mystery to me?  Plus I’m still frustrated that the school system cancelled the June HS orientation tours!

A:   Dear High School Mom,

The transition from middle school to high school can be a challenging time for both teens and parents. Between the new social atmosphere and the increased exposure to parties, drugs, and sex, it can definitely be a worrisome transition. To teens, having the right “group” and fitting in is crucial in high school. Because of social media’s large presence in today’s generation, a sense of social isolation can be common among teens and social rejection painfully public. The good news is that you can play an essential part in your child’s transition by being her coach. Teach her resilience and know that she can tolerate some emotional discomfort during this transition. Finding her right group takes time. Encourage your daughter to go to the club fair or tryout for a sports team, but don’t force it. If she sees something she’s interested in, support her in it. Our Senior Young Child and Parenting Clinician, Gail Groboski, LCSW-C, recommends the STAR technique when struggling in a social situation: Stop, Take a breath, And, Relax. Confidence is key in a social situations. When it comes to high school peer pressure here are some tips. Instead of telling your daughter who she can and cannot hang out with, educate her on drugs, alcohol, and sex so she can make smart choices on her own when the time comes. Also, it’s helpful to have a code word in case your daughter finds herself in a sticky situation. With a code word if something happens and she does not feel safe she can shoot you a quick text with the word and you can pick her up with no questions asked. Remember coaches don’t grill their trainees.  They don’t push until the other becomes defensive and shuts down. They offer guidance when asked and avoid judgment.