The spring months typically mean a sense of renewed energy, anticipation for summer fun and vacations, and an overall feeling of well-being. That is, unless your a teenager or a parent of one. Don’t get me wrong–all these things still apply, but as we approach the end of the school year there are certain life events that can instill some serious stress in our kids lives. Having twins means a double dose of the “springtime stress” in my house and I thought it might be helpful to other parents who are also dealing with this to highlight a few things that can be stress “triggers” and what we as parents can do to help our kids through these difficult months.
- It’s SAT time! Yes, if you have an upperclassman (typically a Junior) in your house, they may be taking the SAT (college exam) for the first time. As many of you know from taking it yourself, this is one monster of a test. Plus, they’ve since added an essay to the exam, which makes even more pleasant. Basically what this means for your child is that in addition to his regular school work, he’ll be spending more time trying to prepare for this test. Most kids are very nervous about taking it and see it as a “do or die” situation. Try to lessen the stress by letting them know that they will have an opportunity to take the exam again in the fall and make sure they are getting enough rest since sleep deprivation can impact their ability to concentrate. In addition, a healthy diet and some regular exercise has been shown to help students reach their academic potential. Most importantly, the day of the SAT, make certain your teen has a healthy breakfast that will keep him satisfied throughout the morning so he can stay focused on the exam.
- Prom drama. Okay, I’m not talking anything as extreme as the movie “Carrie,” but Junior and Senior proms do bring a certain drama to a teen’s life, especially if you have a daughter. Aside from the whole, “Is someone going to ask me?” or “Should I ask someone?” and “Will she say yes?” flurry of activity that goes on, for teen girls there is the bigger issue of THE DRESS. It’s a major decision that requires several serious discussions with their friends and knowing what “everyone else” will be wearing before deciding on the selection. Let me warn any parents who haven’t already gone through this–be strong–there are some seriously inappropriate gowns out there. I did a little searching on my own before we went shopping and set guidelines ahead of time so there would be no surprises. Be careful that your daughter doesn’t try to buy something that doesn’t fit and thinks she’ll “diet” before prom and squeeze into it. One thing you want to watch is that you don’t have your child practicing any of these starvation diets. If she wants to lose a few pounds, encourage her to do it the smart way by exercising and eating a healthy diet filled with fruits and veggies.
- Finals fiasco. Similar to SATs, the end of the school year brings finals for teenagers. Again, it’s stressful and while it’s a life experience your teen has to endure, you can help them by giving them tips on managing their time. A lot of kids are still learning how to manage their time the best way–I know mine are. They get better at it with each passing year, but when I see that they are starting to get to that breaking point I sit down with them and we discuss what’s going on and usually it’s a simple fix of how they can better juggle their strategy of preparing for the exams. Make sure their not pulling all nighters (I’m constantly reminding John that leaving things for the last minute is not going to work).
Before you know it, it will be June and your teens will be off enjoying the summer fun and sun …before they get to do it all over again next year!