How Do I Prepare Teens to Leave the Nest?

Back to School Tips for Teens Entering High School


John is going be at the high school this year.  There are so many different students.  John seems to be more out spoken than he used to be and has started to back talk frequently.  His parents are concerned that John is shutting down the lines of communication he once had with them.  They are afraid he may get in with the “wrong crowd” and make some bad decisions. 

Do you have a child transitioning from middle school to high school?   If so, you will want to find ways to keep the lines of communication open with your teenager at this crucial time.  You will want to continue to teach good communication and problem solving skills because these will be very important as he or she heads into this next stage of life both at home and at school. 

Here are some back to school tips for teens entering high school that will assist you in giving your child the skills they need to be confident, responsible and independent.  Check out these additional back to school tips for teens headed to college that can help you through this transition as well.

Managing the Transition

Entering high school is simultaneously scary and exciting for teens, because of all the unknowns. I wish every high school offered a freshman orientation day that involved upper-classmen. Knowing the school layout, schedules and “inside scoops” helps eliminate the scary part of this new adventure. Then they can focus on learning and experiencing responsibility, such as following through with work assignments (at home and at jobs), choosing friends, managing extra-curricular activities and developing new relationships.

Fostering Independence

At home, teach teens independent living skills such as how to do laundry, cook, clean and budget money. Don’t do for teens what they are capable of doing themselves. If you think your teens aren’t capable, it’s your job to teach them the skills they need. Also, don’t rescue them from problems or mistakes. Hold them accountable and teach them how to resolve problems and learn from mistakes.

Communicating with Teens

Allow your communication with your teens to take on a new flavor — if you don’t, the teen years can leave a bitter taste. Teens are often more vocal and opinionated than younger children. They share their ideas and (maybe) ask what you think. You want to ask questions that help teens learn to think for themselves, rather than just giving advice. This teaches teens critical decision-making skills and can prevent rebellion. You also want to develop a mutually supportive relationship with your teens and seek win/win solutions to prevent power struggles.

This kind of communication takes time and effort. Parents must be available when teens are ready to talk and know when to talk and to listen. Heed the saying, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you talk.”

To get more insights on how to build a strong relationship with your teen or older child, listen to the on-demand episode of Parents ToolTalk® Radio, Parenting Your Teen And Adult Children  and get the Teleseminar, Getting Back into the School Swing

Who’s The Boss? 

During the teen years, parents must establish a new level of trust with their teens and grant more freedom. Too much restrictiveness breeds rebellion; too much freedom gets teens in trouble. Teaching responsibility and independence skills will help reduce your concerns about teenage drinking and other problems teenagers may face.  A healthy balance is to allow teens to have freedom and responsibilities, so they learn to balance each.

Reaching this balance takes conscious effort. Parents must refrain from telling teens what to do.  Bottom-line boundaries are set by society and each family’s rules, expectations and values. Stand firm on those, then let teens decide what is best for them, within those boundaries. Ask helpful questions to help teens consider the options and consequences, instead of lecturing or giving advice.

To discover more insights, information and practical tools and tips about helping children develop independence and responsibility, listen to a one-hour recording of a live workshop called, “Serve Up Some Wings So Children Can Leave The Nest.” Click here to order.

Preparing Your Child to Leave the Nest

The process of preparing a child to “leave the nest” actually begins the day the child is born.  It is your job as the parent to teach the appropriate skills at each child developmental stage.  Let toddlers take baby steps and fall occasionally. Be there to guide them. Let preschoolers explore and ask “Why?” Teach young children social skills. Teach school-age children self-care, self-responsibility and self-discipline. Then use the high school years to prepare your teen for independent living, decision-making and conflict resolution.

If you want less stress,  more ease and to feel confident in your parenting, sign up for the FREE 30-Day Challenge.  You will get additional insights, information and practical tools and tips on how to build a strong relationship with your teen or older child by learning the Universal Blueprint® Effective Response Formula and getting personalized support for applying it to the challenges you face.  Sign up for the FREE 30-Day Challenge now.


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop and president of Parent’s Toolshop Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30 years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. Currently, she hosts the Parents Tool Talk radio show and is a parenting expert columnist for Chic Mom magazine. She has produced almost 100 multimedia resources, which are available at her award-winning website, 

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