As a new school year gets underway, it is not uncommon for parents and students to experience anxiety about a number of issues. Some common concerns are academic performance, fitting in at a new school, adjusting to a higher educational level such as moving from middle school to high school and dealing with bullies, the internet, and smart phones. With these concerns in mind, here are a few tips parents might find useful in helping their child succeed in school.
Encourage Asking for Help
If your child is struggling academically, ask them about what is happening in the school setting that may be impacting the learning process. Encourage your child to seek help from their teacher and school staff to collaboratively think of new and creative ways to tackle difficult subjects. Schools are generally willing to work with an individual child’s needs to ensure their success.
Model Kindness, Compassion and Caring
Young people learn from their parents appropriate and healthy ways to interact with others. If your child does act out, openly and caringly discuss the behavior with your child. Understanding why they chose to behave in an inappropriate manner provides an opportunity to teach your child a more productive way to react to difficult situations. It also is a chance to help your child understand how their behavior might be hurtful to the other person.
Foster A Safe Environment
Adolescence is a time when young people are exploring their identity and how they fit into their social network. It can be a tricky time for them as they often feel self-conscious or struggle with their self-esteem. Creating a safe space for your child to discuss their thoughts, feelings, struggles and fears allows them to explore their own identity without fear of embarrassment or shame.
Whether it’s limiting computer time or controlling smart phone access, it is important to establish and communicate clear expectations for your child. The same is true regarding consequences for breaking the rules. Understanding your rationale for rules and consequences is helpful to your child. Let them know that you are concerned about their safety or, that you want them to do well in school to ensure that they have choices for their future.
Adolescence can be a difficult time and can put stress on the family unit, despite the best efforts of the parent. Bringing in a neutral third person to help navigate these trying times can be extremely helpful. Speaking to a school counselor or seeking the assistance of a licensed counselor in the community are just a few options. The team at The Lovett Center is also here to help. You can fill out a confidential inquiry form at any time for a clinician to get in touch with you.
Written in collaboration by Jackie Perin, MS, Clinical Mental Health Counseling Intern and Marsha Chin, LMSW, Psy.D. Clinical Psychologist.
Dr. Marsha Chin has a private practice at The Lovett Center and also serves as the adolescent program manager for Pathos, our intensive mental health outpatient program. Dr. Chin holds years of experience working with diverse populations of all age groups that represent various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. Learn more about her background here.
Illustration: Jorde Matthews