How can I assist my high school teenager in 2022

High School is definitely not for the faint of heart.

After an amazing holiday of sleeping in, being lazy and relaxed, having unlimited access to Netflix and computer games, going back to school is the ultimate dopamine killer! Most teenagers do however, look forward to seeing their friends, meeting their new teachers and taking part in their sport, arts and academic activities again.

Although the first 2 weeks back at school are usually a bit more exciting, as the year goes on and the pressure starts building, it gets tougher for our teens.

So how can we as parents assist?

1. Create a dedicated study / work area:

Make sure that your teen has a dedicated area in the house where he/she can do homework and study for tests and exams. Ensure that it is equipped with a calendar, some stationary as well as exam pads. A neat and organised space can often create a feeling of calm and safety for your teen, and can help them to feel ready, prepared, in control and motivated for the academic year. Give them the freedom to personalize the space, so that they truly feel it’s theirs.

2. Set goals:

It is important and helpful to spend some time with your teenager, setting up a few goals for the year, in different areas of their lives such as; academics, emotional wellbeing, personal growth, physical health, friendships, family etc. Encourage your teen to come up with their own goals and only add some ideas where necessary. Also ask your teen what you as a family can do to help and support them in achieving these goals. Remember that this is about what they want to achieve in the next year…not what you would like them to achieve.

3. Spend time and listen:

For most human beings, love is spelled T-I-M-E. Make sure to schedule some quality time with your teen on a regular basis. Remember that quality time also means that you make the time to do stuff that they want to do.

The best way to get rid of bundled up emotions is to talk about them. Create a talking-culture in your family where your teen can feel safe talking to you about anything, and share some of the things that might bother them. Sometimes, all they need is someone who truly listens without judgement.

One of the best ways to help create this talking culture is having dinner as a family, together at the dinner table. Make sure that all electronics are switched to silent, and are left in another room. That includes mom and dad’s electronics!

We absolutely understand how busy everyone in a family can be and we understand that this might feel like an impossible assignment! However, setting aside an hour to an hour and a half, each day during the school week, to just spend uninterrupted time together, sharing a meal and sharing about your day is so important.

Remember that if your child cannot talk to you about the small stuff, how on earth can they talk to you about the big stuff?

4. Enjoy and appreciate the people they are and are becoming:

As parents, it is often difficult to let go. It is difficult to take a step back and to allow them the space they need to grow and to experience life their way. We don’t want them to get hurt. We don’t want them to fail. We don’t want them to make the mistakes we made growing up. Unfortunately, this often leads to teenagers feeling powerless and controlled.

Teenagers need that sense of independence. They need to feel empowered to make decisions. They need to learn that it is okay to make mistakes, and that we can learn from them. In the safety and security of a loving household, where better to learn independence, such an invaluable skill for adulthood.

This does not mean that we have to withdraw completely. We are still their safety nets. We are still the ones that need to gently guide from the side lines. They key is children need independence, not disconnection.

5. Prioritise your teen’s mental health:

Achieving in sports, cultural activities and academics is great and it is important to teach our children to do their best and to give their best. But it cannot be at the cost of their mental health!

The past 2 years have not been easy, especially not for our teens. The Anxiety, depression and suicide numbers among our young people, have increased tremendously. When your teen seems off, do something fun with them, check in, spend time with them or help them set aside time to do something they love doing. Mental health should always be prioritised.

It’s easy to expect of our teens to “suck it up”, to “get over it”, or to “step up”, but it is so important to remember that they are dealing with a lot. Make sure to allow them the space to talk to you freely, where they can be open and honest without fear of rejection or being worried that they will not be taken seriously.

In closing:

Being a parent is not an easy job, but neither is being a teenager!

We hope that these 5 tips will assist you in tackling this year in a positive and productive manner, in so doing, strengthening relationships and assisting your teen to flourish this coming year.

If you are concerned about suicide, read the following article.

If you are unsure when your teen needs counselling read the following article.