By: Elizabeth Hill
Being a preteen or a teen is tough. But add in school and all the ups and downs that come with it and it becomes even tougher.
You know it, I know it, and your daughter REALLY knows it. So what can you do to help your daughter through these years?
It pains me to say I’m not a teenager anymore (and I hate to admit that it’s been a little while since I was). But thankfully it’s not such ancient history that I’ve forgotten everything. I remember both the pain and excitement of my middle/high school years.
With that in mind, I’m going to share with you 13 things you can do to help your daughter survive and thrive in the school year.
A lot of these suggestions are things that my parents did for me while I was in school. And yes, I did call my mom and talk these over with her. I’m not too old for that!
- Help your daughter study.
When I began thinking about the things my mom did for me in school, this is one of the first things I remembered. My mom would quiz me for tests, and it was always made me feel better prepared. Of course, your daughter needs to develop studying skills, but reviewing her test material together is a great way to bond and to keep up with what she is learning in school.
2. Encourage excellence, not perfection.
With schoolwork, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, etc., teach your daughter to put in the effort and do her best. But don’t demand perfection. Excellence is giving it your best effort with the time, resources, and skills you’ve been given. Perfection is pushing beyond reasonable limits to attain the highest possible outcome. Of course, you want your daughter to do her best, but you don’t want her to become burned out in an endless push to be the best. Teach her the proper balance.
3. Support her extracurricular activities.
Go to her games and recitals. Cheer her on. Let her know you’re proud of her.
4. Share your stories of your school years.
While your school experiences aren’t necessarily the same as your daughter’s, she will benefit from hearing your tales of failure, success, excitement, heartbreak, embarrassment, etc. The experiences of your past help your daughter relate to you and give her reassurance that someone else knows what she’s feeling.
5. Let your daughter know she can talk to you about anything, including the hard and embarrassing stuff.
I can’t imagine what girls are facing in school right now. Your daughter needs someone in her corner who will tell her the truth. Be approachable, not condemning. Cultivate a relationship where she feels safer coming to you with questions than going to the internet, friends, or even teachers.
6. Be willing to talk about relationships.
Your daughter has a natural desire for relationship; it’s part of a girl’s DNA! Whether it’s friendships, sibling relationships, crushes, or boyfriends, she is searching for love and acceptance. Walk beside her as relationships change. Share godly wisdom and personal experience with her. She needs someone to talk to, and the best person is you!
7. Teach your daughter how to present herself well.
She wants to make a good impression on the first day of school and beyond, and you can help her do that. No, you don’t have to grab a book and place it on her head for balance practice. Practical things like good hygiene and flattering makeup techniques, and hair styles will help her tremendously. Teaching your daughter to find clothes that both make her feel confident and demonstrates she has self-respect.
8. Eat together as a family.
I can’t remember many meals that I didn’t share with my family. You may not get a lot of words out of her at breakfast (if your daughter is anything at all like me). But consistent, shared mealtimes can be a constant for your daughter providing daily opportunities to share what’s going on in and around her life.
9. Don’t treat your daughter like she’s still a little kid.
Grant her a certain measure of freedom. Let her take the car to the school event or to get coffee with friends. As much as you want (and need) to be a part of your daughter’s life, there’s also a time where she needs to be on her own. And that’s a good thing. You don’t want her living with you forever, do you? She needs some independence to prepare her for the quickly approaching, after-high-school years.
10. Provide stability and set expectations.
I know I just said to give your daughter freedom, but she also needs to know that someone is in charge. While she may gripe and complain about your rules, she can’t deny the sense of safety and protection that comes with knowing her godly, consistent parents are leading their family with integrity. Your daughter needs to know the boundaries. It is within those boundaries she will find greater freedom to live, grow, and mature.
11. Don’t pressure your daughter into thinking that middle/high school is the only high point of her life.
While we can look back on our school days and remember how nice it was to have fewer responsibilities, we know the other stages of life come with lots of joy and excitement, too. Yes, encourage your daughter to soak it all in, but don’t make “making the most of high school” an added stressor. She can enjoy this while also looking forward to other good things to come.
12. Help her as she plans her future.
If your daughter wants to go to college, help her think through her plans, then find and apply for scholarships. However, there’s no need to push college as the only option. She may have other goals or dreams that don’t require college, and that’s okay! The most important thing is that she follows a God-honoring path that complements the skills and abilities with which He has blessed her.
13. Let your daughter fight some battles.
Don’t always clean up her messes (literally or metaphorically) nor fix her problems. You should always be there to love and guide her through difficulties. She should not face major problems on her own. But you can’t just jump in and take care of everything. She needs to be able to figure out things on her own. If she never has to learn things or face consequences for her actions, she will be stuck in a rut facing the same problem repeatedly. She will wait for someone to fix it for her. Kids with helicopter parents are in for a huge, brutal awakening the first time they must do anything on their own. Don’t set your daughter up for that kind of failure.