You can feel the tension in the country as the exams start and families with teenagers take a sharp intake of breath, here are some thoughts to help you through.
If your teenager is stressed then treat them like you would treat a frightened child, on the outside stressed pupils can display stubborn behaviour and refuse to do things, remember behaviour is always a way of communicating what is really going on for them. On the outside it maybe willful and moody but on the inside they are absolutely
frightened to death,
frightened of failing,
frightened of letting you down,
frightened of walking out into the big wide world,
frightened of not knowing what to do,
frightened of what their peers think of them.
I realise that you will have tried everything with them and may have tried these, but here are some strategies that will most definitely help….
1. Text them every day telling them that you love them, are proud of them and that it doesn’t matter what happens you will always be proud of them, (they will wonder what is going on but do it anyway).
2. Just listen, ask them how their day was and just listen, don’t tell them what to do (I know its really hard not to as it feels that their future is at stake right now, but the thing that they need most is to feel listened to, if they are feeling anxious, they will be feeling frightened and when frightened they will just shut down at any instructions as to what to do).
3. Ask them do they need a hug, they will balk at you and think you are crazy, but every teenager no matter how cool they think they are still needs a hug from their mum. I have given this advice to countless parents and one reported back that their son was having lots of tantrums about everything. The mum just stood there and offered him a hug, the son refused, but the mum continued to offer a hug each morning and eventually he took the hug and things got much better, not in a Disney happily ever after way, but in a “we are going to be ok” way.
4. Be kind to yourself, you aren’t failing as a parent because they are struggling, the best thing that you can do for your teenager is to be calm and relaxed and have faith that they and you will come through this unscathed and smiling.
Remember to breathe, feel and allow it to flow, it’s the not feeling our uncomfortable feelings that causes so many problems.
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