It’s that time of year when the cries of teenagers everywhere can be heard ‘round the world. It’s college application time, well-into-school-and-absolutely-no-breaks-until-Christmas time, and “I’m up to my eyeballs in due dates” time. When kids are stressed, parents are stressed, and no one is happy. So what can you do to alleviate your kids’ anxiety? You can help, guide, suggest and even model good organization for your kids.
Teach your kids these skills today, and they will thank you for the rest of their lives:
1. There’s no way around it, something’s got to give.
I can almost guarantee that your teens can drop at least one activity from their list that is a.} not that beneficial or important anyway, but that b.} takes up valuable time and adds unnecessary stress. Your kids need to decide for themselves what that is. When you pose this question to them, don’t be surprised if it takes them 30 seconds or less to answer. Teens know how they feel about their activities whether they verbalize them or not. They know what’s wasting their time, and they know what depletes their passion resources. They hate busy work. They hate pointless meetings. They’re just like us in that regard. So pose the question and step back and let them freely share the answer. Chances are, they’ll quickly identify their energy drainer. Be ready – you must be willing to hear it and let your child drop it, even if it’s a favorite activity of yours. If it’s not crucial to their future, an activity about which they are normally passionate, or something that is truly necessary for their growth and well-being, they should be allowed to drop it in the interest of life balance and stress reduction. If you’re still hesitant about your child stopping piano lessons or SAT Prep, visit stress.org and read about the myriad ways stress hurts our bodies, minds, behaviors, and attitudes. Then ask yourself if that one hobby or class is worth it.
2. Kids know and understand everything they have going on in their lives, but they’re not great at figuring out what should take precedence.
In fact, most would choose social media and friends over responsibilities any day of the week. They need parents to guide them and remind them, without nagging or taking over their calendar. The skill of prioritizing is so important to their lives that you would be negligent if you didn’t teach it to them. Think about the many times in your life when you’ve had to determine what is most crucial and then work to that end in order to keep your job, pay your bills, or maintain your sanity. You must teach this to your kids. Never expect that they will be able to figure this out on their own.
3. Help your kids by setting them up with a personal calendar where they can enter due dates, homework, activities and events.
Teach them to review the calendar daily to determine what they can do today that will make tomorrow a little easier. Walk them through the importance of tackling big projects, college applications, and tests step-by-step, and by starting when the assignment is given, not the day before it’s due. Teach them that procrastination is dangerous, especially when entering adulthood, in that it adds additional and avoidable pressure and stress. Show them that a little forethought today can make an enormous difference to their futures.
Dr. Rebecca Deurlein is the author of Teenagers 101: What a top teacher wishes you knew about helping your kid succeed (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). She owns Teenager Success 101, a full-service path to success tutoring company serving students across the nation. www.teenagersuccess101.com. Rebecca lives in Sugar Land, TX, where she is Head of School at Montessori Kids Universe. Her blog, A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Teenagers, can be found at rebeccadeurlein.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. For public speaking events or more information, go to rebeccadeurlein.com.