Three Ways to Help Your Teen Finish School Strong

Communicating with Teens, school, School Performance

If your teens are anything like mine were, they checked out after spring break and school feels like a drudgery. Let’s face it, we haven’t had a “normal” year either. Returning from the pandemic was complicated and now the CDC reports an inflamed teen mental health crisis. (I will write more about that later.) Regardless of the reasons or the circumstances, our teens deserve our empathy in making it this far and they may need our support to finish the school year strong. What can we do to help?

  1. Admit and Affirm

Admit out loud that this has been a rough year and affirm your teen for showing up and for making the effort, even if (perhaps especially if) imperfectly. All of us need to feel seen and heard. Affirmation is not showering our teens with praise and compliments. Affirmations are generally more about being and character. Don’t follow it up with critique, object lessons or lecturing. Simply affirm your teen.

I really appreciate how you’ve hung in there with school.

I see your day in and day out consistency.

I see how hard your working even when you don’t feel like it.

  1. Offer Help with Open Ended Questions.

How can I help you?

How can I support you to wrap up the school?

Or, be specific.

I noticed on the school portal that you are struggling with algebra, how can I support you?

  1. Use the 3 Choice Strategy

Ask your teen what are, three things they can do to tackle the problem in front of them. If they say they don’t know, you can offer a few suggestions. In keeping with our algebra example, you might say something like this…

Well, I can think of some strategies, a) talk to the teacher and ask for extra credit, b) attend afterschool tutoring since sport practices are diminishing, and c) I want you to know I’m willing to hire a private tutor, if you think that would help.

Then you invite your teen to choose one of the strategies that they are willing to try for the week and ask if it is okay if you check in with them at the end of the week to see if the strategy they chose is helping.

As always, let’s keep the conversation going. Tell me what resonates with you and what you are trying to help your teen finish the school year.

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