In the previous blog post, you learned that developing a healthy sense of self is crucial for your teen’s personal success. Adding to this, the high school years are a time when academics and friends take center stage. Your teen will face wins and challenges in both areas. She needs to be prepared to overcome and learn from academic and social setbacks. The following parenting actions are your guide to supporting your teen in experiencing social and academic success.
PARENTING ACTIONS FOR PROMOTING SOCIAL SUCCESS
Foster an understanding of friendships.
Help your teen understand what she truly values and desires in a friend. Distinguish the characteristics between acquaintances, good friends, and really good friends. Explain that certain friends may come and go from one category to another and that’s OK. It’s the really good friends that should be constant. This awareness will help her choose friends wisely and surround herself with supportive, like-minded peers. It will also strengthen her social shield. She will be able to more easily deflect when a person does not fit into her value system and if she encounters a bully or mean girl, she will know not to take their meanness personally.
During high school, your teen will very likely be exposed to new social dynamics that include parties, drugs, drinking, and sex. She needs a framework and guide to navigate a new and often confusing social world. You should be proactive in creating clear agreements around rules and expectations. Be willing to negotiate certain rules and consequences with your teen as this builds communication and critical thinking skills, and encourages accountability.
Support emotional regulation skills.
Help your teen learn to identify her triggers by pointing out what you notice, without judgment. Simply saying, “I notice when you get off the phone with so-and-so, you are really angry.” Ask her what choices she has for how to handle her feelings or the triggering situation, and offer choices if she can’t source her own. Talk about healthy outlets and strategies for coping. Suggest she keeps a journal, talks to a coach or mentor, and express herself in her favorite creative ways such as music, painting, or drawing. Introduce her to practices including deep breathing, meditating, and visualizing optimal outcomes. When your teen can regulate her emotions, she will gain a broader more positive perspective. She will be able to source solutions and find the strength to take action when needed. She will feel a sense of calm and control, which will position her to move forward with grace.
PARENTING ACTIONS FOR PROMOTING ACADEMIC SUCCESS
Provide tools and support to manage stress and overwhelm.
School is one of the biggest sources of stress, and when tests and assignments pile up, overwhelm kicks in, making it hard for your teen to get organized. To mitigate debilitating stress and overwhelm, help your teen identify stress triggers and ways to avoid or manage triggers. Talk through the choices she has when facing a stressful situation. Introduce time management strategies that reduce feelings of overwhelm. Two of my favorite strategies include time blocking, where you identify blocks of time for different activities, and clarifying the MDNs (must do now), CDLs (can do later), and WTDs (want to do). These are two effective strategies for organization and prioritizing.
Support her motivation.
Your teen needs motivation to start projects, meet deadlines, and achieve their goals. However, as school routines settle and assignments start to pile up, “later” can easily become “never.” Before your teen sinks into a rut of procrastination and lack of motivation, help her understand effective ways to set and achieve long and short-term goals. Always start with an ideal outcome. Break down big tasks into small chunks. Create a plan (try using the time-blocking system). Develop personal incentives and rewards like taking a walk, playing a video game, or spending time with a friend. Praise her process and effort.
These parenting practices require seizing opportunities and maintaining a strong parent-teen relationship through the high school years. A strong, respectful, balanced relationship with your teen comes down to two things: what you know and what you say. You need to know what your teen is going through- the challenges she faces at school, with friends, and on social media. And you need to know what to say to get through to her, especially when she’s facing a challenge.
If you would like more support during the upcoming school year, consider joining my Essential Guide to Parenting Teens. This course will get you out of the cycle of worry and frustration, and teach you how to support your teen through the most common high-school challenges. From promoting optimism and banishing self-doubt to setting limits and dealing with friend drama, you will walk away equipped with a new parenting language and tools that really work with teens!