Senior year can be difficult for high school students. Throughout the year, they are faced with important decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. While everyone is telling them to relax and enjoy the year, many are faced with painful experiences. From saying goodbye to meaningful friendships to dealing with bullies, your senior may experience a range of emotionally taxing situations before they reach graduation.

As a parent, you will also have many incredible highs and lows throughout the year. Communicating with your senior can be key to making it a successful year. Here are some tips to help parents support their children during their senior year.

Know the Concerns

With incidents of bullying and violence in schools on the rise, one of the major concerns among parents is student safety. With the integration of mobile devices into our everyday lives, online bullying has become a major problem among high schoolers. Nowadays, bullies can follow students home from school through their phones and social media accounts. This type of constant bullying can be incredibly taxing on your teen. As a parent, it’s important to open lines of communication with your teen and support them when they come to you with a problem.

There are other, less serious concerns that are likely to affect your teen. The primary concern for most seniors is the college application process. As spring approaches, students going to college often feel nervous about not receiving their college acceptance letter when their friends have already received their letters. Choosing a college to attend also brings additional anxiety. Many students have a fear of leaving home and being on their own for the first time. All of these concerns can be emotionally crippling for students. One way teens can help prepare for their futures is with AP classes.

Lifelong Decisions

Many students spend fretful hours worrying about if they are making the right decisions. Many feel if they make the decision not to go to school that everyone will be disappointed. While many are pushed to go on to college, it is not the right decision for everyone. Yet, those who choose to start a career or take a break and work for a while often feel that they are letting everyone down. Let your teen know that you understand that college may not be for everyone. Help them see the pros and cons of this important decision because paying back student loans later can be painful if students choose to change courses later. Using tools like My Plan can also be helpful for teens who want to explore their options.

Acknowledge That Mental Health is a Concern Among Teens

Be sure that your teen knows that it is OK to talk to you about all that they are thinking and feeling. Take their concerns seriously even if they seem petty to you. Get help if your teen is struggling. Even if your teen is not willing to go with you, if you start the process, then you may learn viable techniques to help your family through this adjustment. Wake Forest University points out that teenage depression is a very real problem, and while it may be hard to see through the façade of happiness teens wear on their face or social media, the numbers show there is a growing concern. Help your student by seeking counseling yourself if you need to work on your own mental health. Avoid using stigmatized language when discussing mental health.

The senior year is one that will be remembered throughout your child’s life. It can be filled with lots of happy memories or many very sad ones. If your child seems to be struggling, then help them get mental health help, as depression is very real for many students during the senior year.