Does your teen have patterns of behavior that don’t support school success? Perhaps trouble getting out of bed, skipping classes, getting behind…? In September, teachers review materials and assess students; classwork is often less rigorous. We need to take advantage of this “honeymoon” to address any potential stumbling blocks.
Three keys to proactive support are: awareness, identification of warning signs, and planning. When we shine the light into a dark, problematic area of our lives, the problem decreases. Bringing an issue to the light, especially before a situation has recurred is helpful. Something about not acknowledging a subject gives it power…think Voldemort! So take your teen aside and get started: “How is school? Let’s talk about a plan to be sure that old patterns don’t zap you this year.”
If you bravely forge this far into the teen danger zone, you only have two steps to go. First brainstorm warning signs: “Let’s figure out some pre-stumbling block signs.” Does she start staying up later? Become difficult to wake? Argue more with siblings? Rush around in the mornings, unable to find schoolwork? Humans tend to have patterns. Once we identify these typical warning signs, we are ready for the final step.
Pre-emptive strikes are key. For each warning sign, create a proactive plan. What can be planned calmly NOW before tensions are high? Perhaps you can agree to bedtime parameters—when electronics go off, what is laid out the night before, etc. Or to review the electronic grade book together twice a month. Or to a self-care plan: “When you get this frustrated, how about you go to Skymania with a friend and de-stress by jumping on trampolines?” Plan now. Get ready to support your teen in overcoming obstacles. Here’s to a stumble-free school year!