The beginning of the school year brings hope for some, and anxiety for others. Often families feel a mix of relief to get back in the swing of things and overwhelmed with juggling numerous commitments and responsibilities. It is important to keep a few things in mind when starting out the school year with your teen.
Many parents and teens are hopeful about the new school year beginning and often begin the year with agreements and contracts, hoping that this time it will work. For most of you these agreements and contracts will become points of frustration and resentment rather than tools for progress. In the moment, these contracts sound good and feel good, but in practice they fall apart quickly and often get in the way of finding solutions. Instead of creating agreements and contracts, really figure out what your boundaries are, what resources you are willing to offer to help, and decide how you want to act if there are issues that arise during the year.
It is easy as a parent to fall into the habit early on of nagging and obsessing about your teens school work. Be aware, stay observant, but do not obsess. Parents don’t realize that you are enabling your child when you take the responsibility of constantly reminding and checking on work. Sometimes letting them fail at something early on prevents them from continuing bad habits. It is scary as a parent to let your child fail, but remember that your job is to provide them the resources to succeed, maintain boundaries so they are supported in their journey, and be available with love and guidance. You have to let them live their own journey while you live your own along side them.
Each new school year is a great time to work as a family on starting new. Let go of resentments, unreasonable expectations, and old negative habits. Carry around hope and don’t focus on the previous year’s issues. It is a good time to take a look at your schedule and routine and try to bring more balance. Many teens are over scheduled and some do not have enough to do. The start of the school year is a great time to be honest about the habits of your family and it is possibly the easiest time to begin new routines and healthier habits.