4 Ways to Avoid Teen Turmoil and Help Your High Schooler Thrive
If you have a teen or pre-teen in your house, you’ve probably heard that adolescent mental health challenges have skyrocketed over recent years. As a parent, you don’t take these reports lightly, and may even be considering a school change to give your child the best environment possible.
It’s normal to have lots of questions about how to best take care of your high school student. You may be wondering why teens are in turmoil, how you can protect them without making them feel overly sheltered, and…is being a high schooler really that much harder than it’s always been?
We say yes.
Between the widespread overconsumption of social media, increasingly high expectations, and a divisive political climate, teens are navigating a new world. Feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, and isolation are common. Where your teen spends their time, what activities they are involved in, and who they interact with all play a role in their mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
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Whether you’re looking for a new high school or just searching for ways to help your teen through these uncharted waters, here are some important ways to help high schoolers thrive:
Create Meaningful Connection
Middle and high school are formative years. During the pandemic, your child may have lost some opportunities for face-to-face interaction, and there’s no better time than high school to ensure their lives are filled with positive connections. They will spend a large portion of time with their teachers, more unsupervised time with their friends, and build new connections with coaches, advisors, and peers.
If your child has been struggling to find positive role models, it may be time to think about a school change. Find a place where your teen’s teachers can pray with them and over them daily. Search for a school with small groups, where safe spaces are created for students to share their feelings, joys, and struggles. And consider the value of Christ-centered athletics and activities, where coaches and advisors can lead students in devotions and spiritual growth alongside growth in their talents.
Foster Joy in School, at Home, and Beyond
Early college, AP, and honors courses are important opportunities for students who want to challenge themselves academically, but it’s important to remember that these can be taxing. Colleges are continually raising the bar for admissions, and the pressure to get into a “dream school” can be daunting. Help your teen select a course schedule that matches both their future aspirations and their current needs. Remind them that their dream college may not always be their best-fit college. And most importantly, assure them that their worth is not found in a test score or a stacked resume.
When the pressures of high school get overwhelming, remember to make time for simple pleasures such as exploring nature, baking or cooking together, reading, writing or creating art for fun, or even just taking a Sunday drive. Your teen needs these outlets more than they know.
Set Healthy Boundaries Around Screens
Every family will take a unique approach to teenage social media use, but one thing is for sure — neglecting to address this topic can be detrimental. Overconsumption can lead to issues with attention and focus, affecting academic performance. Cyberbullying is a common occurrence, so have a plan for how your teen is to respond if they see it or feel they are becoming a victim. And talk to your child’s school about the measures they’re taking to ensure students’ digital safety.
While you might not think you are your teen’s favorite role model, remember that when it comes to technology use, more is caught than taught. Modeling healthy boundaries around screens will help your teen remember that there is more to life than a smartphone.
Provide a Toolkit for Times of Need
Even if your child has a loving, stable home and the healthiest environment possible at school, being a teenager is still difficult at times. Be prepared for hard days and weeks and don’t panic if your child seems to be distant. Help them understand mental health — how to recognize when they’re getting burnt out, what helps them recharge, and when to ask for support.
Create a rhythm in your home that fosters wellbeing: consistent bedtimes, healthy meals, physical activity, and limits around electronics. Most importantly, make sure they have mentors in their lives — trusted people they can go to when they need to process something or solve a problem.
Looking for a school where your child will have invested mentors and positive friendships?
At Hillcrest Academy, we understand that being a teenager is tough, but we’re committed to making these years as fun, meaningful, and stress-free as possible. Every high schooler on our campus is known well and nurtured academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Contact us to schedule a visit by email or by calling (319) 656-2073 x20. We look forward to hearing from you!