By Lanny Tygrett, LISW, RPT, Psychiatric Associates
Now that school is underway in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids areas, your child may be feeling some anxiety about the new routine, homework, etc. Here are some quick tips to help them deal with their nervousness and feel more confident.
For all grade levels
- Talk about it. Ask them about their school-day schedule. Reassure them that it will start to feel more routine as time goes on.
- Validate. Validate any nervousness and anxiety they express. Spend time acknowledging this. Then move on to the things they’re enjoying.
- Ask curiosity questions. “What’s science like this year?” “Have you met any new kids?”
- Encourage independence. Follow the golden rule for developing capability: Don't do anything for your child they can do for themselves. This will help to build a sense of independence and capability that they'll need to confidently take on their school days.
- Stay in the loop. Touch base with the teacher to see how your child seems to be adjusting.
- Talk it through. Spend time talking through their schedule, teachers, homework, etc.
- Support their style. Let them make their own choices regarding clothing and how they present their style. It’s more important that they feel confident in their appearance than whether we as parents like it. (And remember that hygiene is different than style. You can set expectations there.)
- Be aware of the workload. Make sure you know their priorities and that they know yours. Balancing academics, activities, work and fun is important. This is your chance to guide them in developing this.
- Let them make mistakes. This can be tough as a parent, but it's important to let high schoolers make (some of) their own decisions—even if those decisions aren't the best ones. Letting teens experience natural consequences helps them learn from their mistakes (within reason, of course; their safety always comes first).
Wishing everyone a great school year!
Lanny Tygrett, LISW, RPT
Lanny Tygrett helps children, adolescents and adults with family dynamics/relationships, trauma, anxiety, depression, self-esteem, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), behavioral challenges and autism spectrum disorders.