The teen years can be particularly hard, especially the first year of high school so I thought I’d share a few tips for you, the parent and for them. The following is written with school in mind but applies equally to success in sport, music or gymnastics.
Let’s begin with you:
- Conditioning – Your child needs a desk that is 100% for study, ideally in a study, with all the resources they need there. It’s the equivalent of you walking to your desk at work. When you sit there, you know what you’re supposed to do and everything you need is in place ready to go. Many of us have experienced the confusion of working from home on the kitchen table during Covid, the time wasted setting up/packing up, the distractions… yet we ask our children to use their bedroom as a place to study, sleep and hang out with friends while their brains are still developing!
- RESPECT – They are studying! Don’t interrupt. It’s the equivalent of them phoning you at work to ask, where’s your washing, where did you put the remote, what’s for dinner? Know & respect their study schedule.
- GOALS CAN BE OVERWHELMING – Typically we see a point in the future, maybe there’s a specific date (for the test, the team try outs) and all our focus goes on this as if it’s a life-or-death moment. Help your child to see the goal, the destination, then all the steps they’ve already taken towards it… learning to walk, talk, day care, grade one, grade 2….. The more steps already taken, the better! This highlights BIG CHANGES happen as a series of 2 mm shifts! Next is scheduling in all the upcoming little steps. They may not know them all which is fine! Ask, “If you did know, what would the first 1 or 2 steps be?” This empowering question presupposes they DO know where to start and starting is always the hardest!
- BUY A TIMER – that’s easy to set (see below). Ideally there are no phones in the room, no social media. Research has shown every time we switch tasks, it takes the braining 15-20 minutes to refocus! Phones pinging every 3 seconds can be very alluring when studying something you don’t really like.
- SCHEDULE STUDY BUDDY CHATS and see if they need help with scheduling, time management, to ask questions about how you do things, what technology you use for different tasks… colour coding your online calendar, Trello, Otter… Have regular dinner convos around things you found handy, challenges at work and how you got around them or ask for their ideas thereby encouraging the pooling of knowledge, yours and theirs!
- CELEBRATE FAILURE – Set a night where everyone’s home for dinner and you MUST bring an item of failure to discuss! You see if we failed, we took a risk and tried something new. We created an opportunity to learn, to move forward. (The word mistake, comes from archery when you miss a take!)
- CELEBRATE EFFORT – When a child learns to walk, we clap hands and give lots of attention for TRYING. We are their cheer leaders but along the way we start labelling. “That’s a nice painting”, rather than “Tell me about your painting and all that black!” If you focus on the report card only, you send the message that praise is only for good grades which is often the start of procrastination and perfectionism! It ignores that we are all naturally better in some areas than others, a quality that makes us individuals! IQ or EQ? Determination and perseverance or the pursuit of what’s easy? What values are you inadvertently encouraging?
- PROVIDE EXTRA SUPPORT BEFORE THEY FALL BEHIND – Invest in a teen coach (Mwah?) to help them master all that will be expected in high school BEFORE they fall behind and self-esteem begins to plummet. It’s much cheaper in the long run, and I’m not just talking financially! (My other love is counselling adults. We can hold onto issues from the past for incredibly long periods with catastrophic results on our relationships, children, careers and finances.
The following is for your t(w)een but drip feed them so it’s not another source of overwhelm.
- THE DISHWASHER PRINCIPLE – Study schedules are like dishwashers. It’s much easier if you put the big things in first. Start with the things that occur at a set time (extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs). Now add test/assignment due dates – highlighted. Break the assignment down into tasks research, 1st draft ….) Encourage them to schedule family time & outings, time to chill & hang out with friends etc. so there is balance to counteract the pressure and all of the things teens turn to when the pressure becomes too great.
- TO SUCCEED LIST – Next, write these tasks into your diary. This is their ‘To Succeed’, or ‘Proof I’m Awesome’ list. TICK THEM off so progress can be seen. CELEBRATE YOURSELF!!! Learn to pat yourself on the back for achieving all those things. This keeps motivation high!
- ROUTINE/STRUCTURE – When life is crazy, routine provides certainty, which is one of the core human needs. Create a routine that includes time for fun, friends, social media, gaming. Balance!
- GREAT HABITS – What’s something you already do every night? (Eat dinner). Dinner becomes the signal for the study sequence – Get a glass of water, go to your desk, open diary, what’s scheduled, what resources do I need? timer set 20 minutes, GO!!!!!!!!!! Imperfect action, is better than none. (The word ‘perfect’ is inside the word ‘imperfect’. There is perfection in imperfection. Doing something is better than doing nothing. And epic failures lead to learning and the ability to celebrate and share them with family thereby connecting us with mistakes and encouraging vulnerability, sharing the hard stuff, opening communication for subjects like sexting, boyfriends, chroming.
- ENERGY – If you’re tired, studying isn’t going to be productive – Do something to get your energy up (dance, favourite song, have a quick nap, jog…)
- DRINK WATER – tiredness and headaches are often signs of dehydration.
- POMODORO TECHNIQUE – We remember the beginning and the end. Our attention span is 20 minutes, so set a timer – 20 minutes study, 7 minutes rest (Move, drink, jump, 2 minute bedroom tidy frenzy while listening to a favourite song.)
As you can see, there’s a lot to know about learning! The above hasn’t even touched on the psychosocial stages of development! If you’re like most parents and time is limited, but you want the absolute best for your child, maybe it’s time to book a free Parent Consult to discuss how best I can support you and your t(w)een.
My 12 week coaching package includes:
- A free initial parent consult
- a weekly on-line session with your t(w)een (30-60 minutes)
- a weekly email tracking progress towards the goal
- UNLIMITED support for parents (just book an appointment)
- Free FB group for parental support/an opportunity to connect with other parents
- Satisfaction guaranteed – I continue with your t(w)een until they achieve the agreed goals
With 35 years in education, as well as a Graduate Diploma in Counselling and a Life Coaching certification, I have a long history of walking alongside students, which has enabled me to support them through life’s challenges and transitions, from bullying and self-esteem through to self-harm and suicidal ideations.
There are only 10 programs available at the introductory price – 50% off – so book a call now and let’s see how I can help your family raise a happy, confident, resilient human being!