Getting back into the academic swing of things can be a challenge for both teens and their parents, especially after a turbulent or life-changing summer vacation.
If neither you nor your teen has been keeping up with your school-based schedules and routines, it’s important to start things off on the right foot – and place special emphasis on consistency.
In this article, we’re exploring 10 back-to-school tips for parents.
Back-to-School Tips for Parents
Going back to school can be an exciting yet stressful time for both teens and parents. Preparation is key to ensuring a smooth transition.
For teens, it’s a chance to reconnect with friends, engage in new learning opportunities, and perhaps embrace new responsibilities. Parents can support this by discussing the upcoming school year, setting goals, and establishing a routine before school begins.
Together, shopping for school supplies, talking about expectations, and addressing any anxieties can help everyone feel more prepared. Engaging in open communication and collaboration will foster a positive start to the new academic year.
Here are 10 back-to-school tips for parents and teens.
1. You Are Your Teen’s Greatest Influence
An important reminder for parents is that teens are still at an impressionable age – and while parents always worry about peer influences, parental influences remain stronger, and are a much more potent determinant of a teen’s behavior and habits. That means continuing to provide an important role model on how to healthily manage stress, confront and solve problems, and communicate with others effectively.
2. Manage Your Emotions
Focus on your responses and emotions when talking with your teen. It’s normal for teens to lash out or become irritable when anxious, and getting back to school can be an anxious time. Don’t match your teen’s energy – be patient and stay calm.
3. Establish a Healthy Routine
Getting back into a healthy routine with your teen before school starts can be a massive boon. Wake your teen up early, make sure they’re getting ready with you, and help them organize the last few days of their vacation to match the structure of an average school day.
4. Set Realistic Expectations and Goals
Studies show that teens seem to feel like they’re under too much academic pressure – even when their parents haven’t communicated wanting a specific grade or career from their teens. Schools are often designed to push for better grades and performances, without a care for whether this pressure helps teens develop skills that are important for adulthood.
5. Practicing Extracurricular Self-Care
Prioritize sleep, nutrition, and exercise to boost your and your teen’s mental well-being, in and out of school. Remind your teen that it’s important to use school as an opportunity to build healthy habits, learn more about relationships and communication, and focus on skill-building, rather than the best possible scores and grades.
6. Reach Out to Your Teen Often
Encourage your teen to talk to you, to their friends, or to school or counselors if they’re struggling; and make sure they understand that they’re not alone.
7. Talk To Your Teen About Healthy Boundaries
Set limits on screen time and social media use for better mental balance during school weeks and talk to your teens about creating important and healthy boundaries between work (academic responsibilities) and play (from hanging out with friends to just relaxing online).
8. Mental Resilience Starts with a Positive Mindset
It’s easy to spiral into dark thoughts, especially when the going gets tough, or when faced with an anxious change – such as going back to school. Rather than sharing in your teen’s worries, help them focus on strengths, achievements, and growth. Take weight off their shoulders by denouncing perfection – and encouraging them to celebrate the wins they’ve already achieved.
9. Impart the Value of a Support Network
Support networks are the connective tissue of a healthy life, for teens and adults alike. We’re social creatures, and we need each other. Encourage your teen to build connections with supportive peers and lean on them when their help is needed (and vice versa).
10. Getting Professional Help
During the back-to-school season, the pressures and anxieties may be especially intense for some teens, leading to potential mental health or substance abuse issues. A teen treatment program can be a critical support system for both teens and parents.
Such programs provide professional assessment, individualized treatment plans, counseling, and ongoing support tailored to each teen’s unique needs. For parents, it offers education and guidance on how to support their child’s mental well-being. Ultimately, the program can help foster resilience, enhance coping strategies, and ensure that the teen is mentally and emotionally prepared to face the challenges of the new school year.
Questions and Answers
Here at Visions, we field questions from teens and parents alike, especially about the challenges of balancing your own needs with your ongoing (and often growing) responsibilities. Some of the questions we get from both teens and parents on the topic of getting back to school include:
How can I communicate my needs to parents or teachers if I’m feeling overwhelmed? Sometimes, it helps to start by writing things down. You don’t even have to show anyone what you’ve written – but itemizing or at least putting your feelings into print can help you consolidate and sort through your emotions, and be more direct with how you’re feeling, and what you’re feeling.
What should I do if I’m having trouble making new friends? Common interests are often the best way to meet peers at school or outside of school. Look for clubs or extracurricular opportunities to spend time with others in an activity that you enjoy, whether it’s video gaming, sports, chess, tabletop games, or specific subjects of study (in a study group).
What can I do to help my teen avoid burnout during the school year? Keep a close eye on how your teen is spending their time. Are they procrastinating more than usual? Are they putting off their chores and academic responsibilities? These are usually telltale signs that your teen is having trouble with both managing their time, and mentally managing their workload. Make sure they’re keeping on top of things a day at a time, rather than pushing through an avalanche of overdue schoolwork.
How can I help my teen if they’re anxious about returning to school? Some teenagers get more anxious about returning to school than others. Sit down with your teen and talk to them about what they’re worried about. Listen to their worries and acknowledge them. Talk to them about what you might be able to do together to help resolve these worries. Ask them what they might be looking forward to at school, such as seeing old faces again or the routine and structure of a school week. Help them focus on the positives, first and foremost.
Sometimes, the stress of getting back to school can reveal a deeper problem. Adolescence is a common period of onset for mood and anxiety issues, which can develop into conditions over time. However, these conditions, like depression and social anxiety, are treatable. Get in touch with us at Visions to learn more about our teen treatment programs.
Now that you have some back-to-school tips for parents, you can move forward and help your teen transition back to school.
As the new school year begins, remember that mental health is as important as physical health.
By fostering better communication skills, setting realistic expectations, practicing self-care, and seeking support when needed, both parents and teens can navigate the back-to-school transition without a hitch. Work with us at Visions to help your teen achieve their best self.