10 Tips to Help Your Teen Succeed this School Year
By: Monica Ippolito
ACS After-School Counseling Program Intern
What REALLY makes a good parent??
A new study (yes, another study) presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association this past August is quite wonderful because it aims to sort through all of the noiseinfo and let parents know what really matters. The results are refreshingly simple. Anyone heard of love? Well, “love your kid” is the No. 1 thing you need to do to be a good parent.
Robert Epstein, a longtime professor of psychology, and Shannon L. Fox, a student at the University of California, San Diego, examined data from 2,000 parents, looked at hundreds of research studies, and worked with experts to identify the 10 parenting skills that are most important in bringing up healthy, happy and successful kids. And then they ranked these child-rearing practices.
Interestingly, “stress management” is the No. 2 parenting skill, right before relationship skills–i.e., getting along with your spouse or partner. Neither of these even involve the child. So often parents get caught up in child-rearing and they neglect their relationship with their spouse, never realizing that their deteriorating marriage is far more harmful to their children than a missed nap, an hour of television, or a gulp of water from a bottle containing BPA.
Here’s a rundown of the 10 that are featured in the November/December Scientific American:
1) Love and affection. You support and accept the child, are physically affectionate, and spend quality one-on-one time together.
Now that the fun of returning to school is starting to wear off here are some ways that you can help your teen be there best this year:
1. Attend School Daily: Reserve sick days for those in which your teen has a fever, nauseated, vomiting, or diarrhea. When your teen has to “catch up” with their school work that is only adding more pressure on themselves to get all of the work done.
2. Teach Them Learning Is Their Job: Teens need to understand that it is their job at this time in their lives to learn all of this information even if they think they will never need it. Teens must also understand that when they don’t like a teacher this is good training for some day when they have to work for a boss that they don’t really care for. Just because you don’t like someone that does not give you the right to not do the work, the truth is the only person suffering in this situation is the teen whose grade is not the one they want.
3. Instill Organizational Skills: Most teens receive a planner from their school, so you should show them how to use the calendar feature on their smart phones. Not only can they put in those due dates but they can add some helpful reminders that the date is coming up. Along with putting in all of those assignments they can also add in tryouts, practices, games, rehearsals, plays, concerts, dances, etc. This will help them plan out when things need to be done as well as give them something to look forward to.
4. Set Up A Place For Learning: You know your teen best & each one has their own style of learning but each of them needs a desk or space at a table with a chair to be able to lay books out & write or type things up. Along with a place is a time where the rest of the family members need to let this teen get their work done.
5. Offer Help With Studying: It is important that your teen knows that you are available to help them out. As long as you offer even if they turn you down they will know that they can ask at a later date when they are in need of help.
6. Let Them Know That Failure Is A Part Of Success: Teens are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed from many people in their lives. The thing is most people don’t explain that in order to succeed you must fail first. Your teen didn’t just start walking they had to crawl first, then fall down in learning to balance. The failures that they will have will make them stronger people. Their failure is a lesson that they needed to learn in order to get to the goal they have in mind.
7. Technology Use: Limits for everyone in the household. During meal time everyone should leave their devices in another room or on silent in the center of the table. Figure out what is the best time for technology to also take a rest as it is bed time. This is a great time for the devices & you to recharge the batteries.
8. Eating Habits: Start the day off with something. Some teens are not ready for a full on breakfast but maybe fruit or some type of breakfast bar is a great way to put something in the belly before school. Remind your teen to eat at lunch. Surprisingly many teens skip lunch & wait until school is over to eat their next meal. If this is your teen please remind them to pack snacks in order to keep their brains healthy and alert. After school snack that is a snack & not a meal. Enough to keep them going until dinner. Dinner that is nutritious & delicious.
9. Sleeping Habits: Did you know that our teen actually needs 10-12 hours of sleep a night? That is about the same amount that they needed as an infant. In reality we all know this is not possible with everything they have going on, so try for 8 hours. With this much sleep they will be able to focus better in school.
10. Limit How Many Hours They Can Work: Your teen may think they can handle it all but between homework and school activities this is already a lot; throw working into the mix and suddenly someone else has expectations of them. It is not a bad thing to work but work should understand that school comes first. The Child Labor Coalition of the National Consumers League , a private, nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization, suggests the following guidelines for hours, late-night hours and supervision (source:healthychildren.org):
I LOOOOVE this article and think EVERY parent needs to read it!
The New York Times recently published an article called, "Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?" The author chronicled several teens' battle with anxiety over the course of a few years.
The article questioned why we're seeing such a rise in anxiety among today's youth. As a psychotherapist, college lecturer, and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, I agree that anxiety is a widespread issue among adolescents. It's the most common reason people of all ages enter my therapy office.
Some have endured rough circumstances throughout their young lives. But others have stable families, supportive parents, and plenty of resources.
I suspect the rise in anxiety reflects several societal changes and cultural shifts we've seen over the past couple of decades. Here are the top 10 reasons:
1. Electronics offer an unhealthy escape.
Constant access to digital devices lets kids escape uncomfortable emotions like boredom, loneliness, or sadness by immersing themselves in games when they are in the car or by chatting on social media when they are sent to their rooms.
And now we're seeing what happens when an entire generation has spent their childhoods avoiding discomfort. Their electronics replaced opportunities to develop mental strength, and they didn't gain the coping skills they need to handle everyday challenges.
Happiness is emphasized so much in our culture that some parents think it's their job to make their kids happy all the time. When a child is sad, his parents cheer him up. Or when she's angry, they calm her down.
Kids grow up believing that if they don't feel happy around the clock, something must be wrong. That creates a lot of inner turmoil. They don't understand that it's normal and healthy to feel sad, frustrated, guilty, disappointed, and angry sometimes, too.
3. Parents are giving unrealistic praise.
Saying things like, "You're the fastest runner on the team," or "You're the smartest kid in your grade," doesn't build self-esteem. Instead, it puts pressure on kids to live up to those labels. That can lead to crippling fear of failure or rejection.
4. Parents are getting caught up in the rat race.
Many parents have become like personal assistants to their teenagers. They work hard to ensure their teens can compete: They hire tutors and private sports coaches and pay for expensive SAT prep courses. They make it their job to help their teens build transcripts that will impress a top school. And they send the message that their teen must excel at everything in order to land a coveted spot at such a college.article continues after advertisement
5. Kids aren't learning emotional skills.
We emphasize academic preparation and put little effort into teaching kids the emotional skills they need to succeed. In fact, a national survey of first-year college students revealed that 60 percent feel emotionally unprepared for college life.
Knowing how to manage your time, combat stress, and take care of your feelings are key components to living a good life. Without healthy coping skills, it's no wonder teens are feeling anxious over everyday hassles.
6. Parents view themselves as protectors rather than guides.
Somewhere along the line, many parents began believing their role is to help kids grow up with as few emotional and physical scars as possible. They became so overprotective that their kids never practiced dealing with challenges on their own. Consequently, these kids have grown up to believe they're too fragile to cope with the realities of life.
7. Adults don't know to help kids face their fears the right way.
At one end of the spectrum, you'll find parents who push their kids too hard. They force their children to do things that terrify them. On the other end, you'll find parents who don't push kids at all. They let their kids opt out of anything that sounds anxiety-provoking.
Exposure is the best way to conquer fear but only when it's done incrementally. Without practice, gentle nudging, and guidance, kids never gain confidence that they can face their fears head-on.
Parenting stirs up uncomfortable emotions, like guilt and fear. But rather than let themselves feel those emotions, many parents are changing their parenting habits. So they don't let their kids out of their sight because it stirs up their anxiety, or they feel so guilty saying no to their kids that they back down and give in. Consequently, they teach their kids that uncomfortable emotions are intolerable.article continues after advertisement
9. Kids aren't being given enough free time to play.
While organized sports and clubs play an important role in kids' lives, adults make and enforce the rules. Unstructured play teaches kids vital skills, like how to manage disagreements without an adult refereeing. And solitary play teaches kids how to be alone with their thoughts and comfortable in their own skin.
10. Family hierarchies are out of whack.
Although kids give the impression that they'd like to be in charge, deep down they know they aren't capable of making good decisions. They want their parents to be leaders—even when there is dissension in the ranks. And when the hierarchy gets muddled—or even flipped upside down—their anxiety skyrockets.
How to Address the Anxiety Epidemic
We've created an environment that fosters anxiety in young people, rather than resilience. And while we can't prevent all anxiety disorders—there's definitely a genetic component—we can do a better job helping kids build the mental muscle they need to stay healthy.