Recently I’ve received a flood of calls and emails from parents asking how to help their daughters start the school year on a positive note.
Cultivate a “What If” Mindset
Encourage a “What If” mindset by asking these questions: What if you woke up every morning motivated and happy about the school day? What would be different? What if the school year is better than you expect? Isn’t that a possibility?
When she answers these questions, listen. Her imagination may run wild and that’s OK. Your job is to find the real possibilities that exist within her dreams and identify the action steps she can take right now to create more happiness and less stress. As you uncover these steps, ask her how you can support the reality.
Stress-Busting Routines for the School Year Ahead
This is a great one to do alongside your teen.
Make a T-chart on a piece of paper. On one side, write all the things that stress you and her out. Share and validate the pain and frustration triggered by the situations or events you list. This communicates a message to your daughter that you understand and share her feelings. On the other side of the paper, list what you and she currently do to relieve stress. Together, think up new stress-busters, including activities that are relevant to your daughter’s preferences. Consider things you can do at the moment.
I teach my clients a stress-busting “bear breath” where they acknowledge their feelings on the breath in. Hold their breath at the top and tighten all their muscles. On the breath out, they sigh (loudly) and repeat a personalized motivational statement, like “I can do this” or “I can let go!” Also on your list, include things you and your daughter can do on a regular basis to keep stress low. Enjoy a weekly beach walk, plan a family movie night, get creative in the kitchen, or sign up for a yoga class.
Build on her Strengths
You know your daughter has the ability to overcome her fears and worry, but she may need some help learning how to use her strengths and talents as tools. Help her identify her inner qualities by noticing when they show up. For example, when she wakes up for another day of online classes and gets herself ready, say something like, “I really admire your dedication to school. I respect you for staying the course even though things aren’t ideal right now. You must be really proud of your ability to persevere.”
As you get in a regular habit of noticing the qualities that drive daily behaviors or accomplishments, she will start to see those qualities in herself. When the feelings of stress and overwhelm come tumbling in, ask her how she can use her strengths to get through the storm. This is a great time to come back to the “What If” mindset by saying something like, “I wonder if your ability to persevere could be helpful in this situation.”
More Tips for the Entire School Year
These are actions she can take right now to increase happiness and brighten the back-to-school-blues.
- Every morning think of at least one good thing that is going to happen.
- When you first look at yourself in the mirror, say to yourself, this is going to be a great day!
- Smile as much as possible.
- Eat breakfast! Fuel your body and your mind with something healthy and delicious.
- Remind yourself daily of your unique strengths and find ways to use them.
- Be kind to everyone.
- Find a study-buddy.
- Start journaling. Use your journal as a place to vent, dream, and reflect on your day.
- Communicate with your teacher.
- Embrace new opportunities. See each day is a fresh start!
- Prioritize. Make a list of your MDNs (must-do-now), CDLs (can-do-later), and WTDs (want-to-do.) Planning your time and deciding what needs your immediate attention will help streamline your day.
- Find a motivational quote and place it where you will see it every day.
- Ask for help.
- Offer to help.
- Give yourself something to look forward to.
- Remind yourself of all the times you’ve been successful and accomplished tasks that haven’t been easy.
- Dream about your future.
- Use your journal to record your dreams in vivid detail.
- Surround yourself with people you respect, admire, and make you feel good!
- Have fun!