As many of you know, my daughter Lauren has an anxiety disorder and when things are spiralling out of control Obsessive Compulsive Disorder creeps in as well. This year is going to be highly challenging. She is going into Grade 12 and the pressure of getting a high enough average to get into the university program she wants is already overwhelming her.
Teenagers are a tough group. They would much rather say no and argue than listen to any parental advice. But, to keep my sanity, I now interpret the teenage eye roll as "Thank you for your helpful advice Mom”. I find that maybe 2 out of 10 suggestions I make get adopted (usually over several weeks or months), and make it into her vocabulary, i.e. “I know that I should put down my phone for an hour before bed so I can sleep”, and the rest are just ignored.
The Child Development Institute has some great tips for managing back-to-school anxiety.
I thought to also share tips from my family:
- Phones off for an hour before bed
- Meditation (she will only do this if she is super anxious…but it works)
- Family dinners every night to touch base
- Dedicated homework time with phones out of reach – 50 minutes, 10 minutes off for 3 times and then a break of an hour.
- Plan her homework schedule. Multiple deadlines are often overwhelming. We use her schedule and have her plan ahead when assignments are due, when she can take a break with friends etc. Her anxiety often gets in the way of her ability to plan.
- Acknowledge her anxiety, and acknowledge that every kid feels anxious at times about school. It’s normal and needed. Anxiety can help her stay focused and motivated.
- Her psychiatrist recommended that she can have a Worry Time – say for 10 minutes each day – the evidence shows that will reduce anxiety over the rest of the day
- Help her resist the urge to have too busy a schedule (social usually)
- Remind her of the activities that help her take a break i.e. walk the dog, funny movie, clean the house (ok that never works)
- Remind her of her successes on her tests/exams/projects from the past
And, remember that as a parent, we need to stay calm. Kids pick up anxiety quickly, so when you feel yourself getting anxious apply some of the tips to yourself.
We know this week is going to be a busy one. Let’s keep the conversation going. Please join us on Twitter on Sept. 7 for a Back-to-School Twitter chat.