With graduation just a month or two away, stress is nearing an all-time high for soon-to-be graduates and their parents. That’s why we created a three-part series on ways to bust stress for parents and teens! This week is our third (and last) installment of our series, and it just so happens to be a guest post by teacher, mother, and advocate Tammy Walsh. (In case you missed the first two parts, here is the first and the second.)
Our guest author, Tammy Walsh, is a mother of two, a high school math teacher, and a contributor to The Five Moms Blog on Stopmedicineabuse.org. She has a passion for addressing the issue of substance abuse openly and honestly with both parents and teens. Through her work with The Five Moms, she hopes to reach more parents on a national level, educating and empower them with the tools to make positive changes in their communities. We invite you to join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks Tammy, for sharing your advice on relieving stress with our audience!
It’s always important to remember that even though certain aspects in our family lives are slowing down, our teens still have a lot going on. This can be a tense time of year, particularly for high school seniors who will have many important decisions to make in the next six to eight months. During this time period, it can be challenging for teens to effectively manage the stress that results from attempting to balance wrapping up high school and preparing for college with extracurricular activities and a social life, but we, as parents, must help them find the calm in the midst of what may seem like a storm. This transition is tough, but we can help make it as smooth as possible for our teen, and in turn, alleviate stress for the whole family.
Here are some tips for smooth transitioning:
Get plenty of rest. This is especially important for our teens as they need to be energized and able to perform at their peak – whether they are working on end of semester projects, studying for midterm exams or writing college applications. As parents, we also need restful sleep as it provides us with the energy to engage with our teens. Create a sleep ritual that will help you fall asleep on time and encourage your teen to do the same. Make your family go screen-less at least an hour before bed. This means no phone, no laptop, no TV. Instead, unwind with music or a book.
Unplug and decompress. Along the same lines as above, set time for the family to disconnect from phones and computers. We often get so caught up in our online lives that hours can pass before we even realize we haven’t had any physical activity or interaction. Emails, text messages and social app notifications can make us feel like we always have to be plugged-in, but at some point we may need a break from the constant phone-check. Encourage your family to meditate, reflect, have meaningful conversations or go outside and get some fresh air.
Don’t neglect hobbies. To avoid an abrupt transition for your teen, encourage him or her to keep up with his or her hobbies and favorite activities. There will be many changes for your teen in the future. However, through all the changes he or she may experience, setting aside time for hobbies can provide a sense of stability and a means of creative expression.
Maintain perspective. Celebrate milestones, but don’t exaggerate mistakes or failures. Blowing problems out of proportion can cloud the lesson that your teen may have otherwise learned from the situation. If your teen has broken a rule or received a bad grade, it’s important for both of you to take a step back and assess the situation rationally to reach the most beneficial solution. Also, it may help to think of the transition ahead as a new adventure of triumphs and challenges for the family to embark on together.
Give each other space. Sometimes, as hard as it can be for us parents to admit, our teens don’t need our constant advice, but rather space to process this new experience. The benefits of giving our teens this “alone time” extend to the entire family and will allow parents and siblings to handle the transition by themselves as well.
Changes, challenges and choices are standard stepping stones along the journey of life. During the teen years, it’s important that these moments are not marked by stress, tension or worry, but rather by confidence and a bit of curiosity.
What other tips or tools have you used to guide your teen and family through a major transition, such as the transition from high school to college?
About the author
Dennis Trittin is the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Through his books, blog, and nationwide speaking engagements, Dennis prepares students for life success and equips parents and educators in their vital training role. You can find him here on Facebook.