Help Teenagers Succeed in Senior School

If you have a teenager at high school, then it's quite likely you might have one of the four concerns below:

  1. Last minute assignments. Do you worry that your teen is an underachiever? Does it seem like they often do the bare minimum, at the last possible second? Are you concerned that they spend a lot of time socialising, on the computer, on their phone or just seemingly wasting time?
  2. Stressheads. Are you concerned about your teens tendency to panic or stress about everything? Do you feel you have to walk on egg shells because you just never know when the volcano will erupt?
  3. Late nights, grumpy mornings. Are you frustrated by your teen staying up really late at night (either because they are on the net, phone or just not able to get to sleep) and then being exhausted and irritable in the morning?
  4. Socialising overkill. Do you wonder whether it is really necessary to spend the whole day at school with a group of people, text them 300 times when you get home, stop for a token amount of homework and then talk until the small hours on Facebook?

If you have any of these concerns about a teenager, at the bottom of this page is a whole lot of FREE articles that you can use to help you with all of these areas, and others.  There is also some free articles for teens themselves that you can email/print out for your teens.

But in the meantime, here are a few of the most important principles to keep in mind in helping teens succeed in senior school.

1. Know what is going on.  It is important to know what is happening on a week to week basis for our young people.  We need to know the kinds of things they are looking forward to, what they are worried about, their hopes, concerns, struggles and puzzles.  Whilst still respecting their need for privacy and independence, we still need to know them and their lives as well as we can, in order to support them.  This means we need to ask teenagers questions about their lives.  This is easier said than done, but two tips for doing this are:  (a) Ask in the most relaxed, informal and casual way possible - if teens perceive irritation, anxiety or stress in adults, communication stalls.  (b) ask questions about things teenagers enjoy talking about (possibly sport, friends, TV, music etc), as well as asking about school and study. (c) if teens don’t respond to open ended questions, try questions with an either/or response.  (d) don’t badger, but go back again the next day and in a caring, relaxed manner - ask again!

2. Help with motivation. All senior school students need motivation boosts at times. Help them to chunk their work – break big tasks or long sessions of homework into small, achievable bits.  Encourage them to “just do ten minutes before tea”, or “just write two sentences” of a hard assignment before they start something else. If you are providing incentives or rewards this year, make sure the rewards are for behaviour and actions (e.g sitting at desk for one hour each night) rather than outcome (an A). Better yet, help them reward themselves by getting them to do deals with themselves – one hour of study = fifteen minutes of Facebook etc.

3. Help with distractions. For almost all students, mobiles, the net, computer games and TV provide a tantalising option far more immediately rewarding than study.  Instead of relying on willpower, students should change their environment so that their distractions are a little bit harder to see, hear and access. Very slight changes in environment (e.g having phone on bed across the room instead of next to the student) can decrease distraction power quite a lot.  If the student is amenable to this discussion, see if you can brainstorm with them any ways in which they might be willing to make their distractions slightly harder to engage in.

4. Help with organisation.  If you get frustrated with your students “time management” or “disorganisation”, see if you can be more specific about what is going wrong.  Is it that the student forgets to take things to school? \ Is it that they misplace items and have to spend time looking for them? Is it that they don’t write lists in their diary?  If you can, help students to think of one very practical, small and specific system or habit that they can establish which will improve their organisation. This means linking a specific behaviour with a time, place or other “cue”. Students normally need coaching in this. Start very small. If that seems to be working, try to establish another one. 

5. Help with Health.  Three areas of health to focus on in senior school are nutrition, exercise and sleep.  All of these areas will have a significant effect on grades.  Discuss with students how you can help them eat a good breakfast, get regular exercise and get an additional 15 minutes sleep each night.  Ask them to help you know how you can coach them in these areas. 

6. Make the relationship the priority.  Ultimately, the relationship we have with our young people is far more important than any result at school.  We need to remind ourselves and them of that on a regular basis.

Want more help to know exactly how to support teens through senior school so they achieve their goals?

Click here for a step to step guide on communicating with teens, managing conflict, helping teens cope with distractions, motivate themselves and cope with stress and/or unwanted results.

You might also like to sign up to the Developing Minds e-newsletter (sign up box on the right on this webpage) to get regular free tips and ideas in helping teens through senior school.

 

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