New clothes – check. School supplies – check. Getting a handle on that new schedule – check. It took some planning and effort, but you survived those initial weeks of back-to-school with your teen.
But how’s your kid doing? He probably has a lot on his mind when it comes to the new school year, too. But, it may not be all positivity and excitement.
There’s a lot of stress that goes along with school, affecting not just your child’s school performance but also their mood.
Consider these tips for how you can be a better parent for your teen as they make their way through a new academic school year.
1. Take Your Teen’s Concerns Seriously
Adults tend to discount the concerns or worries from teens. Some of these concerns seem downright trivial, like how it may seem unimportant to you when they spend what seems like forever getting ready or making sure they have the perfect outfit before heading out the door.
This type of behavior can come off as being vain and overindulgent. Your teen, though, could be anxious about fitting in and being accepted.
Even seemingly unnecessary behavior may be communicating big concerns. Try to read between the lines and dig in a little deeper if something seems off or uncharacteristic.
2. Ask Questions
A cliché teen response is an eye-roll and an obnoxious sigh when a parent asks how things are going.Yet this would be a misconception. Your teen does want you to take an interest in their life. Also, as a parent, you want to know how your kid is doing in school.
Whether it be their friendships, how they get along with teachers, or what grades they’re getting, you genuinely want an update.
Try to make time each day for both of you to connect and catch up with each other. Remember to inquire about the “trivial” topics as well. Teens often spill out deeper details in moments like these.
3. Practice Intentional Listening
Besides asking questions, it’s also important to practice intentional listening with your teen. Intentional listening means listening with a focus and attentiveness you may not normally be used to. It also means you let your child speak uninterruptedly. If you’re confused or need clarification, ask.
And avoid passing judgment or shutting them down. Instead, treat these conversations as opportunities to learn more about what’s happening in your kid’s life.
Intentional listening is a practical window into who your teen is as a person.
4. Provide Requested Help
Simply provide help if your teen asks.
Let’s say you’ve got a freshman in high school who’s still learning their schedule. If they ask you for help, sit down with them to go over their schedule together.
Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between providing help and going overboard. As a teen, your child will want to exert their own independence and make their own decisions.
Make sure to let them know you’re always there to help out if needed. Sometimes that’s all they need.
5. Be Supportive
Your child comes home from school and says, “I want to join the debate team!” What’s your first response? Is it, “That’s great!” Or, is it, “I’m not so sure.”
Being a teen means trying out all kinds of roles and activities. They’ll look to you for approval and guidance.
Naturally, you’ll want to make sure they’re able to balance school work with extracurriculars, but learning how to balance an active schedule is an important life skill they’ll need to master to be a successful adult.
Family & Teen counseling in Columbus, OH
As your teen trudges through this school year, these are several ways you can support them. It can be an exciting time for both of you, but it can be a stress point as well. At times that stress can feel overwhelming for you as a parent, your teen or your family.
If you see signs of behavior that’s out of the ordinary for your teen or you’re just feeling overwhelmed, counseling can be another tool to help you and your teen navigate the high school years. If you’re looking for family or teen counseling in Columbus, OH, please reach out and contact Blue Boat Counseling today. Our skilled mental health therapists will be there for you and your teen on your journey through this school year.
We’d be happy to help.