A new school year provides a unique opportunity for a fresh start, especially as teens come out of Covid restrictions and re-enter a more normal school routine. Around this time of year, I engage my teen clients in a process that helps them set a positive tone for the school year and sparks enthusiasm, interest, and motivation.
These are the questions I use to promote meaningful reflections and conversations about what’s possible this school year. Try them with your teen and let me know how it goes.
Questions for reflection:
What was the most important thing that happened last school year?
What was most challenging about last school year?
How did you make it through the challenges?
How did you change as a person/friend/student/daughter?
What do you now know that you didn’t know before?
How will that wisdom help you this school year?
Connecting with now:
What feels good about your life right now?
What is important to you right now?
What are you happy about right now?
What would you like to change about your life right now?
What would you like to change about yourself right now?
What small steps can you take to begin that change?
Planning for the future:
How can you be more authentic yourself this school year?
What kind of person/friend/student/daughter do you want to be?
What do you want for yourself this year?
What are you looking forward to?
What do you want to accomplish?
What small steps can I take to create an ideal school year?
Five Tips for Teens:
These are my favorite strategies to share with my teen clients. They will help your teen stay ahead and avoid stress and overwhelm. Share this list with your teen or find ways to incorporate the tips in your conversations.
- Create effective systems. Use calendars, sticky notes, and/or phone alerts for items you need to complete and give yourself a deadline. Each day, take 5-minutes to write up a study plan for the day or week. This is especially helpful when teachers pile on projects and tests in the same week.
- Identify your “time wasters.” Identify the ways you spend your time. Highlight the time-wasters or energy-suckers. Challenge yourself to eliminate one at a time.
- Prepare the night before. To make mornings easier and less rushed, take a few minutes before you go to bed to choose an outfit and double-check you have your assignments in your backpack/folder.
- Prioritize downtime. The school year can get busy, quick! As things pick up, your stress level is likely to rise, so make sure you give yourself downtime. Take just a few minutes each day to consciously breathe, relax, and reconnect to what is most important to you.
- Practice positive thinking. Your thoughts are the most powerful influence on your energy and attitude. If you are telling yourself that you can’t do it or everything is hard, your body will respond with low energy and poor motivation. Instead, commit to practicing positive thinking. Tell yourself at least one positive affirmation each day. Some of my favorite include:
- I’m getting things done.
- This challenge is temporary.
- I’m smart. I can figure this out.
- Everything will work out for me.
Ask for help when you need it. Taking care of your mental health, managing stress, and creating the kind of future you want is your responsibility, but you don’t have to do it alone. Friends, parents, teachers, and coaches can give you encouragement, support, and strategies for how to handle life’s challenges.