Michael Costigan is a 17 – year-old from Orange County, CA. He is a social entrepreneur, public speaker, and truly enjoys helping other’s better understand teen related issues. You can follow him at www.SpeakingofMichael.com
Back to school is the often the craziest and most hectic time of the year. This is true for both students and parents. There are many reasons for this. There are new classes to adjust to, sports programs kicking up, and logistics to work out. Once things settle into a routine sometimes they become much easier and manageable. Below are some quick tips to help you deal with back to school stresses – on the family, kids, and of course, yourself.
1. Use a family calendar so everyone knows when and where others will be places.
There are a lot of good options for calendars aside from a traditional paper calendar. You might want to invest in a whiteboard calendar that can be posted in the family room or kitchen. Better yet, if your kids are older, set up a Google calendar that all the family members can sync to with their phones and computers. We forget when we say we’re going to write down something when we get home, or after setting up a phone call or meeting with someone in the coming weeks. It’s obvious we all use calendars, but very few people effectively use collaborative calendars to determine the availability of others and when they are responsible for being some place or if they can schedule their own plans at the time. This will work wonders for deciding who gets the car, the ride, or when someone is required to be present at a particular function. Like back to school night for example…
2. Be aware of what phase of the “social realm” you kids are entering into next.
This isn’t as big of a factor with younger children or younger grades, but if your children are entering into junior high, high school, or becoming juniors in high school, there will undoubtedly be some changes you should expect.
Entering into junior high the cliques and social groups become very apparent. Kids will do whatever it takes to earn their “rank” of popularity within the group. Expect kids to start hanging out more on their own at the local mall or theater and want to be allotted
their own alone time with friends. This can feel like your kids are trying to distance you rapidly, and they are. Junior high is is a huge phase where insecure self perception runs rampant.
By the time kids reach high school they feel like they’re independent minded individuals who know how to lead their own lives. This is true with some, but not with most.
You’ll find teens will claim to be able to do something on their own, but then come running back to you do handle something they were unsure about, or something they overlooked. This is because teens don’t have very great contextual thinking. Be patient, but also know when to give them that push, “figure it out”.
Junior year, almost everyone is or can drive. As a parent this is your worst nightmare, but at the same time, once you let go of your fears, you will enjoy your teen being able to transport himself or herself places that you will find yourself unhappy if you have to drive them yourself. Most states have a law that only permits teens to drive by themselves and be home by a curfew (usually 11 pm) for one year after they’ve received their license. Know that the latter of which you can enforce, the former of which no teen will probably ever 100% strictly adhere to. Your previous parenting track record will determine how well your teens listen to the law and your guidance. By senior year, kids are one year away or less from becoming an adult, not to mention less than a year away from college. At this point it’s too late to try and be controlling, curfews legally are gone, so try to set something reasonable (12 AM maybe?). Make sure you build up trust with your teen, asking him to call when he’s going places, but not expecting that he or she is always going to ask rather thank simply calling to let you know where they are. Teens move from house to house, restaurant to mall, etc.
3. Sweat the big stuff, not the small stuff.
Big things are likely to happen again, for example if your teen tells you they’re spending the night at “Rachel’s” house, and instead you find out they spent the night at “Peter’s” house, figure out why your teen had motive to lie first, then assess whether or not you could be doing something differently to make communication more transparent between yourself and your teen. If however, your child comes home 10 min after curfew, you can probably assume they were racing home to get there by the time you stated anyways. Don’t assume then that they aren’t intending to respect your curfew. Perhaps instead, give them a warning, and suggest that they leave earlier and tell them sometimes they should leave at from various locations in order to make it home safely and on time.
Have a great year!