At this point after Labor Day it seems that all kids are back to school in some way or another – be it via year-round schooling, home schooling or standard classes resuming after the summer. In my casa we’re just trying to get our groove back as the saying goes. The stress level is at an all-time high with trying to figuring out time for increasing homework, new projects, friend outings, sports teams and scouting (Girl Scouts in my house) which all equals more drama from various angles.
We spoke earlier in the week with our Los Tweens Expert Counselor Lina Sandoval of the Nest Miami and she actually made Katherine and I feel at ease understanding that we as parents are part of the stress the kids are feeling. What? We’re causing the stress too? I’ve been trying to create a sense of calm but Lina made us realize that the kids’ growing independence and shutting us out at times from their world is actually quite normal. It’s part of their natural brain and psychological development. And when we’re trying to soothe them but perhaps not really listening to their issues, it causes stress. Wow- that was an eye opener! The conversation started to make sense when I really thought about the types of discussions we have been having lately.
Here are Katherine’s thoughts following the 2013 Back-to-School week: http://www.lostweens.com/community/education/its-the-first-week-of-school-we-could-all-use-a-pep-talk.html
So I wanted to give a few tips that I’ve discussed with other tween and teen parents facing the same issues and based on our talk with Lina. You’ll be seeing an invitation very soon to a parents-only online discussion we’ll be hosting so we all can share in the learnings and insights together.
Tips to Reduce Stress & Listen To Tween & Teen Frustration:
- Ask yourselves as a family: Are the kids (and therefore parents who are driving them around) over scheduled with too many activities? This is a huge question that we’ve been pondering in my house. As kids get older helping them to learn to focus on the activities that they’re most passionate about can alleviate the need to ‘be in everything.’ Perhaps participating in two sports is too much and becoming better at one, or switching sports depending on the season, can help alleviate the pressure to do well in many.
- Alleviate morning stress by packing and picking outfits, including hair accessories, the night before. I love that my kids have uniforms for their school as it alleviates the clothing decision headaches, but even ‘how to do my hair’ seems to be dramatic with tween and teen girls. Boy moms tell me it can be a hassle for them as well! Really try to instill nighttime preparation to reduce sending them off in the morning to the classroom already frustrated.
- Know what’s for homework and project deadlines. I’m a procrastinator by nature- I need deadlines to get me motivated to finish tasks. But I’m happy to report that with my husband’s help (an exceptional early planner) we have instituted planning for project deadlines ahead of ‘the night before.’ Your school teachers likely will give you deadlines ahead of a project. PLAN FOR THEM- help kids learn to be proactive. As they get older, this trait will certainly help with high school and other more complex projects.
- CREATE QUIET TIMES. Try to make time to sit and talk and walk away from the cell phones (even the kids’ cellphones). This may be our hardest challenge as working parents and I know from experience that I have to work at this. But time truly is the greatest gift we can give our kids.
- Give them space to talk to you. They may not be ready to talk to us when we want them to, so some space can be good. Even though you’re giving them time to speak with you, do stay vigilant in watching for warning signs of issues at school.
My last tip is one that I have to sing to myself almost daily! Enjoy this time period. Sometimes we get lost in our own stress and helping our kids get through their assignments that we lose sight we’re supposed to be enjoying it somewhere along the way. Kids in this age group from 7-17 fascinate me. They have so much to teach us! Open yourself to the possibility of learning together and that also will help your own attitude about parenting.
Share your thoughts!