6 Tips to Start Your Teen’s School Year Off Right

Teens Back to School

School is right around the corner and you’re hoping for a successful school year.  You’re trying to avoid those arguments with your teen, bad calls from teachers, and bad grades. While parenting a teenager is always a rollercoaster ride, the following tips will help your family start this new school year off right.

1. Establish Good Routines

Try answering these questions with your teen:

       -What’s a good time to wake up?
       -How can you help them wake up?
       -How much time is needed in the morning before leaving?
     Pro Tip: Create list of what needs to get done in the morning: hygiene, breakfast, etc.

After School:
       -When will parent check in with teen?
       -When will homework be done?
       -Are there any chores or household expectations?
       -How much screen time (video games, social media, tv, etc) is allowed?
     Pro Tip: Have a conversation with your teen about technology use and decide on limits together.

       -What time is bedtime?
       -How can you help them keep a good sleep schedule without a fight?
     Pro Tip: In order to get good sleep, try to limit screen time directly before bedtime (ideally 30 minutes before but anything is good)

Set up a good morning, after-school, and bedtime routine. Routines are good for the entire family.  Invite your teen to help create these routines because you’ll need their buy-in.  Following the routine consistently is important and will lead to a much smoother day-to-day life.  Don’t be afraid to change the routine if it’s not working well.  Continue to ask your teen for feedback about improving your family’s daily routines. 

2. Spend Time Together

Yes, I know that your teen would rather spend 100% of their time with their friends or online.  While having time to themselves is important, so is spending time with the family.  Setting some time daily and weekly to spend time together is necessary to grow healthy relationships. 

Have dinner together: This requires work after a long day but it pays dividends.  There are many benefits of having a family dinner together including:

-Improved psychological well-being
-Improved family interaction
-Less delinquency at school
-Better grades
-Lowers risk for drug use, school problems, depression & alcohol use

3. Take An Interest In Your Teen

While teens are sometimes guarded at first, engaging them in conversation about their life is critical. Be prepared to keep your emotions in check. Parents need to model positive communications skills while also creating a safe space for their teen to open up.  If you regularly become angry or upset,  teens react by shutting down.  Don’t fake an interest. Instead, learn to take a general interest in their lives.

To take more interest in your teen’s life, try asking about some of these topics:

-What their favorite class is and what class they hate
-Who is their favorite teachers and least favorite teacher is
-Who they consider their friends and what’s going on in their social life
-Ask about their interests, hobbies, and opinions
Pro Tip:  Ask daily- “How was your day?”

4. Help With Sleep

Sleeping teen

These problems are often associated with not getting enough sleep:

-Learning Problems
-Behavior Problems
-Substance Abuse
-Weight Gain

Sleep is essential to healthy brain functioning and studies show that 85%-90% of teens are sleep deprived.  You read that right, 90%!  Teens need 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Talk to your teen about getting enough sleep and agree on a bedtime that’s appropriate.

Ask your teenager about how you can help them keep a good sleep schedule without it turning into an argument each night.  Make a plan together so that your teen buys into it (see the theme here?).

Pro Tip: No phone use after bedtime.  Smartphones need to be put away (far from the bed or in another room), or locked so your teen doesn’t get the temptation to respond to those late night texts.

5. Use Humor & Relax

Parenting a teen is hard and stressful at times especially at the start of a new school year.  Setting a positive mood in your house will help everyone during the school year. If you’re feeling stressed, your conversations aren’t going to go well.  Whenever possible, use humor. Laughter can help diffuse those tough arguments that are inevitable when raising teens. Studies show laughing reduces stress, improves personal satisfaction, and improves your mood.  Try not to take things personally and remember that teenagers are going through a lot (physically, socially, and emotionally).  Sometimes they’re selfish and self-absorbed, other times they’re over-tired. Remind yourself not to take their moods personally, it’s just a phase. 

6. Give Your Teen Space

Teens and SpaceAbove I encouraged parents to spend time engaging with their teenage kids.  While this is necessary, so is giving your teen space to be themselves.  While it’s scary to not know exactly where they are at all times, who they are talking with, and what they are doing, giving teens space is crucial to raising a healthy functioning teenager.  Allow your teen some privacy.  Try to find the balance between being involved in their life and giving them the space they need to explore their world. 

Pro Tip: Giving your teen a say in their privacy boundaries makes them feel like they have some semblance of control in their lives. 

Christopher John Counseling helps parents and teens in the Winston-Salem area navigate the pressures of growing up. If you’re teen or are the parent of a teen who is struggling contact us for a free therapy consultation.  Learn more about teen therapy by clicking here

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