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4 parenting keys to preparing teenage girls for high school

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High school is an exciting, yet daunting, new journey for teenagers. Life gets more complicated during the high-school years, particularly for girls. Opportunities abound -- as well as challenges and pitfalls.

Here are four steps that you as a parent can take to prepare your daughters to excel in high school and avoid the temptations that might come their way.

1. Discuss what they might see, hear and face in high school

High school is replete with behaviors, attitudes and actions that most middle-school girls will never have faced before. Drinking, drugs and promiscuity are realities in the lives of some high-school students. Talk about these temptations with your girls and set clear expectations and boundaries for them prior to the start of their freshman year. Let them know that they can share with you any challenges they encounter and that you're there to help them and guide them every step of the way.

2. Help them be safe

A lot of the guys in high school are great. But the fact is, some have less than honorable intentions for girls. Help your daughters understand this and prepare accordingly. Teach them to dress and act in a manner that doesn't give guys the wrong impression about them, and make sure they are never alone on campus, particularly at night. Help them find opportunities to build friendships with other girls who share your family's values, too. Developing a support network for your girls will be crucial to their success in high school. And pray daily for God's protection over them and His wisdom for their lives so that they make wise choices and stay close to Him.

3. Encourage them to thrive academically

High school is largely a make-or-break time for students who are interested in earning a college degree. Qualifying for top universities requires an excellent GPA and a solid extracurricular and volunteer track record. Encourage your daughters to make their studies a key priority. As needed, find resources that will aid them in their academic achievements -- tutoring, online support, counseling advice and summer courses, among others. Talk often about the girls' future potential careers. Inspire them to pour their hearts into their schoolwork with an exciting end goal in mind.

4. Celebrate their successes and empathize with their failures

Above all, be there for your daughters every step of the way. If they get an A on a paper, celebrate with them. If they make a new friend, congratulate them. If they receive a hurtful comment from a classmate, console them. Be their biggest cheerleader, supporter, nurturer and encourager. You'll make high school a greater experience for them while creating a deep and lasting bond between you and your daughters that extends long after high-school graduation.

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