by Chris Taylor, MFT, Author “Back to Basics"

The year it all comes together.  Yes, being a senior in high school is a time for reflection, a time to prepare for the next chapter, a time to say goodbye, and a time to celebrate.  Wait a minute; it is still a school year, isn’t it?  Doesn’t that mean there are still expectations to perform well and finish strong?  With college admissions often based on the condition of maintaining academic performance, and scholarships dependent on performance as well, it is critical that senior year be taken just as seriously as all others.  Enter the dreaded senior-itis.


How can parents help their teen finish strong when this is the time to be handing over the reins to their life?  How do you foster independence while teens are often paralyzed by the thought of being 18 and leaving all they have ever known behind?  How do you prepare for a successful launch?  Lets look at some helpful tips for navigating your teen’s senior year to success.

1.     Do Not Change The Rules.  Just because your teen is older and is learning how to be independent does not mean they have no rules or expectations.  In fact, the number 1 predictor of behavior is a consistent and structured environment.  What you can do is have them start managing their own schedule and allowing choices for when tasks are completed.

2.     Finanacial Literacy.  Teach your teens the importance of having a financial strategy.  Have them meet with a finanicial planner and help them to develop the pitfalls of debt in all forms including student loan.  Teach them about credit building, home loans, taxes, etc. Ask them there views on spending vs. saving.  Make sure they move away from entitlement and towards the understanding that things cost money.

3.     Paying Their Own Way.  Obviously you are not going to require your teenager to pay rent or buy a car, but outside meals and gas are solid compromises.  If they don’t have a job, then teach them how to work for what they get by earning money for additional chores.  Better yet teach them how to start a lawn mowing or car washing business that they can run on the weekends.  The possibilities are endless.  Teaching your teenager this level of responsibility is good at any age, but is particularly useful during their senior year.

4.     Learn To Cook.  Teach your teen to cook.  Teach them the value of meal planning.  Start with a trip to the grocery store and have them learn how to buy food within a budget.  Require them to make at least 2 dinners a night for the family from start to end so they feel accomplished and understand the hard work it takes to care for oneself in health, cost-conscious, ways

Follow these tips and your teenager will be prepared to transition effectively and successfully to the next stage of their life.  Responsibility, maturity and independence are the primary goals.  It is the time to launch, to move forward, to spread their wings, but not so fast.  First, make sure this pieces are in place, so when they leave the nest, they will be able to soar.