This week’s focus is ON TEENS.
“Having a parent who listens creates a child who believes he or she has a voice that matters in this world.”
Rachel Macy Stafford
This time in life can be a challenge when everything is going along as it should. However, in our current state of events, trying to help these young adults navigate the changes they must face without the daily interactions with their friends can seem an impossible task. I will not pretend I have all the answers. I can only share from what I have seen and experienced and draw from what I have learned.
Gentle Guidance, Nudging, and Encouraging
I believe this time in life is about gentle guidance, nudging, and encouraging. The goal of this stage is to prepare them as much as possible for what is to come after high school. We won’t be there for all the challenges they may face, so in some ways our current difficulties can prove to be an opportunity to help them learn more than just their school work.
What I have noticed is that many young people have a very difficult time making a detailed plan, sticking to it, and reaching a goal. Right now, teachers are online reaching out to the students, however, there still needs to be a plan in place to complete the work amongst the distractions that are at home. This is a great time to dialog about setting up a schedule, hour by hour, to help them balance school, exercise, play, computer/phone time, face time with friends, etc. As most adults know, this ability to plan is a very critical skill in many workplaces. Without this current stay at home order, these young adults would not have to schedule themselves this way because the school would be setting the schedule for them.
Another interesting way to think about planning is to create a future plan. Maybe your older teen is considering colleges or a big trip after high school. Creating a mood or vision board is a creative way to plan a future event. Where do they want to go? How will they get there? What do they hope to learn/do? Create a board with paper, photos, information etc. or create one online. Having a positive future plan and something to shoot for can also dispel some of the frustrations created by this quarantine.
Need some planner resources? HomeSchoolingToday has some great ideas, take a look!
That leads me to address anxiety. This is a time in history that is ramping up anxious feelings for young and old alike. When these feelings begin to creep in, the best way to help move through them is to move the body and change the mental focus. That sounds simple, but it is a proven method to release anxiousness. At the first signs of the emotions welling up, move. Go for a walk, do some push ups, stretch, put on a workout video, call a friend and talk while you walk – just MOVE. The change in position and change in focus will help release the grip of the intense feelings. An idea to help facilitate this is for your teen, when they are in a happy mood, to make a list of all the things they enjoy doing. That list needs to be out and in view. Once the list is made, they can reference it the minute the anxiety begins. Just choose something from the list and focus on doing that one thing. Some days the list will be used a lot! But that won’t be everyday. And this is a good skill to practice while still at home and with a parent to help with ideas and possibly a little motivation.
Questions to Ask
As I said in week one, with what everyone is facing, some important questions need to be answered.
- What do you want to see for your teen when all this is over?
- How do you want them to remember this time?
- How can you best facilitate that outcome?
- Are you focused on the potential of your teen, or are you focused on their shortcomings?
- Do you know what they are passionate about?
- This could be a great opportunity to talk to them and find out more about what they are thinking about?
I know that the younger me would have been more about the details than the big picture. The older me has a focus that is a bit wider, is more about letting them try new plans for themselves and is more about letting them discover what works and what doesn’t. Remember, consequences are good teachers!
I think that parents want to maintain a good, respectful, and loving relationship with our teens. I believe that takes a parent who is willing to be available to listen, guide and encourage as well as willing to help design the plan and provide realistic consequences.
A wise friend gave me a quick reminder phrase that was very powerful for me to call to mind when frustrations rise and I am trying to make the next move.
Maybe it will be helpful to you, too:
Relationship above Difference
Teens often have their own way to do things, and many times it is not our way. Above all, keep the relationship strong and let the differences be the smaller detail.
Here are some books we’ve found helpful in our quest to support teenagers:
- Homeschooling: The Teen Years — Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 13- to 18-Year Old by Cafi Cohen
- The Teenage Liberation Handbook (a classic among homeschool families) and Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don’t Go to School, both by Grace Llewellyn.
Our very own Georgeanne at nuHealth is a master Home Schooler due to her home-schooling 4 daughters, yes, that’s 4! She’s homeschooled for 10+ years, creating curriculum, leading co-ops, as well as spending some time teaching at a private Christian school. She loves designing content and finding ways to creatively include important facts into what she’s teaching, while using methods that interest the children she works with.