I have been involved in education in one way or another for over 26-years. As a mother, and teacher and for the last six years as a certified educational consultant. Based on the fact that the students I work with get accepted into their dream schools based on academics and their supplementary applications, you would assume that they are ready to thrive at their chosen school. However, time and again for 30% of the students, the first year turns into a struggle as they navigate the freedom of university and to quickly develop the essential skills required of them.
During this time of social distancing and more downtime, ask yourself if your teen has the following skills required to succeed and if not, take this time to work on developing them.
Are they drifting through their days, or following a semblance of a schedule? Help them to understand that the self-discipline required to monitor themselves will benefit them throughout their life. It is like a muscle that needs to be developed.
How are they handling being separated from their friends and the uncertainty of the times? Do they sit and brood or use changing their mindset and other beneficial activities to manage it? Perhaps as a family, you can develop strategies together to manage these times.
When they reach university no-one will follow them around reminding them of their assignments. They will just receive a big fat ‘0’ as their grade. Ask them what type of student they will need to be next semester when they return to school. Brainstorm together what skill they can work on developing, or subject.
They may be reacting to the current limitations with anger and frustration. Help them talk through their thoughts and needs calmly. With everyone in close quarters, there are bound to be some flareups. Model expressing your needs and walk them through how to do so. If you need to, escape to the bedroom until you have calmed down enough to do so.
Do they eat properly, get rest, look for ways to incorporate physical movement into their life? Are you doing this? Brainstorm what a person needs to incorporate in their life to be physically and mentally healthy and then discuss how to fit these ideas into a routine. I have a checklist on my fridge of how much water, exercise etcetera that we need so we can check it off each day.
Just maintaining social distancing rules and following the rules of your home is an opportunity for them to practice this. Acknowledge them for this. If you have some older kids at home this may be trickier. For myself personally, I have found that discussing the options with them and letting them see that there are choices takes away a little of their push back. For example, I have a 24-year-old who regularly discusses how a few friends living together are enjoying their social time together. We have already established that returning home after visiting others is not an option, but he can move in with them if he really wants to. After he understood in clear language what his options were, he chose to stay home and practice our home’s requirement to practice #social distancing.
I acknowledge that we have been forced into a lifestyle none of us would have foreseen a month ago. I absolutely know that dealing with our own issues as well as being good parents is pushing us out of our comfort zone and forcing us to grow in leaps and bounds. But we can, yes it is not easy, but we can be good parents, our children will have better skills and we will move on after this.
March 27, 2020