By Dr. Jan Hittelman

Making the transition into high school and college can be both exciting and stressful for both parents and students. Here are some suggestions to help make these transitions successful:

• Create an opportunity to have a special family event to acknowledge this important transition in your child’s life. A special meal, trip, or activity to commemorate this event and honor your child’s accomplishment, will help make this important time more meaningful and significant.
• At a positive moment, start with a conversation with your adolescent. Try to elicit their feelings and concerns regarding this transition. In a supportive way, share your concerns as well.
• Based upon you conversation, identify areas of concern and try to develop an action plan to address them. Empower your child with ownership of this process, while letting them know that you are eager to support them in any way that you can.
• Write down your action plan and review it together to ensure that it accurately reflects both your child’s and your thoughts.
• As your child begins their transition to their new learning environment, check in often regarding how things are going. Reassess your action plan and make modifications as needed. Identify unanticipated challenges or concerns and brainstorm strategies to address these issues as well.

Unfortunately as a culture, we have lost a lot of the rituals that mark these significant life transitions. By creating your own ritual around these events you will provide your child with well-deserved feedback regarding their growth and accomplishments, as well as ensuring a more successful beginning at their next stage of development.