Top 5 Things You Can Do for a Better High School Experience

I interviewed my son to find out what he thinks about navigating the high school experience today.

He had some thoughts and advice for both kids and parents:


Here’s his Top 5:

1. Use the Trust Bank Account analogy.

My parents used this analogy with me and it works great because it makes a lot of sense.  They explained that we have a trust bank account with each other.  You put in deposits every time you tell the truth and do what’s asked of you.

Every time you follow through on a promise or a request, that’s a deposit.

You want to make sure you have lots of deposits and large ‘trust bank account’ because withdrawals count triple.  If it’s bad enough, it can wipe out the whole account.

If your account is running low, you can expect more rules and more control.  If you want more freedom, build up that account and keep it high.


2. Be a cheerleader without doling out participation trophies

I’m all for the parents who are encouraging and supportive, but it’s weird when a parent gets super involved to make sure their kid gets a trophy or a reward or gets picked for a role of some kind without earning it.  Like it’s not cool if they’re basically lying to them about their abilities.

When the kid gets out in the real world, where their parents can’t interfere, they’re in for truth that they might not be ready for.  At some point, they’ll find out they’re not what their parents say they are.

It’s hard to strive for more if you’re rewarded no matter what.  I feel bad for people who feel like failures if they’re not number one.  It should be about having fun or the experience, not just winning something.

Probably one of the most annoying things you can do as a parent is live vicariously through your kid and never allow any kind of failure.


3. Alcohol and drugs are not rights of passage

Some people think that high schoolers feel like they have to drink and do drugs to fit in, but at least with my school, that’s not the case.  I see people that choose to stay clean and have just as many friends as those who want to party. Drinking is not a requirement for friendship.

It’s very much an individual choice and I’m not sure what a parent can do to sway their kid to make a certain choice, except to refer to the Trust Bank Account.

Teach your kid instead of trying to control your kid.

Teach them about the effects of choices instead of just having a bunch of rules.


4. Choose your tribe well

I suggest being in sports because that worked well for me.  I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without football.  I got started making friends because I was exposed to so many different kids all in one team and the team mentality helps.  Even if you don’t play sports, I suggest getting involved in some kind of organization or team.

You don’t have to be the most popular person to be happy.

Be nice to everyone.  Be a good friend. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun.  Choose friends who make you happy and make you feel good about yourself. Avoid people who bring you down.  Find friends who seem to be emotionally stable and happy.

Real friends will stand by you.

Popularity has always been a pyramid and very few are at the top.  Even with social media, it’s still a pyramid.  Focus on who’s good around you more than who’s hanging at the top.

Just because someone is popular doesn’t mean they’re going to be good friend.



5. Navigating Social Media

Fact check what you read.  Not just posts about news but also the things your friends post.

If someone is bullying you online, it’s best to ignore them.  Who knows what their backstory is and why they’re acting like that. It’s more about what wrong with them than what’s wrong with you.

It’s hard, but try to not let it get to you and try to feel compassion for them instead of rage.

If you tangle with a bully online, it will always spin out of control and make things worse for you in the long run.

This is another reason to be aware of your tribe and who your friends are. Choose well. People who are emotionally stable have no interest in being mean.

There’s a lot in social media that isn’t real.  Think for yourself.

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