How is your teenager coping with being back at school?
So the dust has settled … or has it …
You may be a dab-hand at all this and be taking it all in your stride – but for many parents – helping their teenager settle in to a different school or simply a different class with the increased demands and expectations, is totally new ground and the new rules can be baffling.
As a parent, constantly asking yourself … “What do I do if …”
- My child isn’t coping with the added workload
- My child is sitting next to a bully
- My child is not making friends
- My child can’t even cope with the basics – like remembering where their classrooms are or getting to school on time.
Well I have one piece of advice …
Don’t rescue your child.
I now it’s hard. But it’s crucial.
If you constantly step in and sort out all their issues for them, you are basically saying
“ I don’t have confidence in your abilities.”
You are also robbing them of the lessons that they need to learn to develop. By solving their own problems you are empowering them for future challenges and building their self esteem in the process. If you are always mopping up after them – then they will not be a able to think for themselves when the next obstacle appears.
Now is the time to gently cut the apron strings. After all – you want independent children – right?
“There’s no such thing as failure – only feedback.”
~~ Jack Canfield ~~
Allow them to screw up – they need to learn that actions have consequences – be it forgetting homework, games kit or not submitting school work on time. Let them know your expectations and that you are handing the reins over to them ( to an extent ) :
- School work goes in on time
- They get up for school and arrive in on time
- Curfews are met
- Chores are completed
… whatever works for you in your household.
Now that they are that bit older – they should have more control with their own lives – about the decisions that they make and the actions that result from those decisions. This gives them the independence that they are naturally craving.
Sure they’ll mess up – but that’s part and parcel of being a teenager.
Your Role as a Parent
Whilst moving up through school can be stressful for the parents, it is doubly so for the kids. So how can you support them?
For a start – make sure that life at home is calm and relaxed. Remember that children learn by observation, so remaining calm and positive has a huge impact on how they react. They prefer continuity and consistency; so providing them with a home life that is supportive will really help them in other areas of their life.
You are their parent – so ensure they have adequate sleep, they get enough exercise and that they have a good diet. This may seem like a no-brainer – but believe me when I say – teenagers are not good at looking after themselves. For the time being – that’s your job.
A study from George Mason University shows that teenagers who lack adequate sleep are at greater risk of depression and suicide. The study found that “each hour of sleep lost was associated with a 38 percent increase in feelings of sadness and hopelessness among teens.” ( Source : YourTeen Magazine )
Everyone can have a bad day or a bad week; but by recognising the difference between real stress and anxiety will help.
However if things become more serious, it helps to spot the warning signs early on:
- Loss of appetite
- Social Withdrawal
- Mood swings
- Dropping grades
Be Supportive :
Make time to talk with your child – when they are ready – not when it suits you !
- LISTEN – with purpose. Give them your undivided attention and instead of offering solutions straight away, just give them space to vent.
- ACKNOWLEDGE – their feelings. These may appear silly and trite to you – but for your child these emotions are very real.
- NAME – that emotion. By giving it a name and reflecting it back to your child – they will know that you have understood their concerns and their worries. This is hugely reassuring.
- TALK – about the options that they have and the actions that they may take. By talking stuff through, they are better equipped to make informed decisions next time.
Following this process, reassures your teenager that you are there to guide them – but not sort stuff out for them. Just by knowing that they have your support is often all they need to get them over these obstacles.
Understand, that your child feels judged the whole time – from the trainers they are wearing, to what’s on their snapchat story, from the grades they are getting, to the friendships they are making. So as parents it’s a good idea to take your foot off the pedal a bit. Your child comes home to recharge and relax. Home is their sanctuary. So maybe for the time being, don’t sweat the small stuff and allow them some slack.
At the end of the day – what really matters is that your child knows that they have your support. That’s what truly matters to them. If you all adopt the idea that you are a team and in ‘this’ together, there’s no limit to what you can all achieve as individuals and as a family.
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