Pull up a chair and let’s talk about your teen’s mental health during these final months of school…
It’s that time of year where students, and maybe even teachers, need a little extra boost to get them through the end of the school year, yes? I think we all get a bit of Spring Fever and long for a much-deserved summer break. And while everyone may be ready to turn in their backpacks for swimsuits, it’s also the time to buckle down and pull up any grades that are not where students want them to be.
So while you’re dreaming of sunscreen, take a look around – your teen may be in a crisis mode working to finish strong which feels next to impossible when they are maxed out, taxed out, emotionally and physically spent.
But do. not. panic.
This is ALL perfectly normal. It’s to be expected.
Here’s what happens each year about this time in my house: we have a teen mental health day…
Our boys take a day away from school and catch up on work at home. Notice I didn’t say take a break from school. No, I said take a day away from school…big difference.
When we give our boys this day to work from home on their projects, studying, etc., I find their mental health is positively affected. They get a chance to sleep in a bit longer and work refreshed and recharged. We let them know stress happens, help them identify when they need some self-care — and give them permission to follow through with it.
Will one day really make a huge difference? Maybe, maybe not.
But by allowing this possibility in your child’s life, it can yield great rewards. I’m NOT advocating for multiple days off school (unless they are sick, of course!), I am advocating for the self-care and well being of the student… the emotional state of affairs of our teenagers is critical to their success in school and life! It’s important they know what they need, when they need it and allow them the space to be productive and responsible. Let’s not underestimate their long days and all the work that comes their way.
After all, don’t businesses allow this for their employees? Adults get personal time to use when needed — so why don’t we allow / accommodate / advocate a teen mental health day for our children when they are tapped out and in a state of overwhelm?
Knowing when a teen mental health day may be needed could be tricky because these are teenagers we’re talking about. Sometimes they don’t recognize their own stress levels until they’ve reached a critical point. Or they don’t let you in and share their emotions. Or sometimes, yes, your teen may be playing with you to get the day off.
So here are some warning signs your child may be overwhelmed with school and may need a mental health day:
- Irritable with school work (well, perhaps I should say MORE irritable than normal?)
- Slow decline in motivation since the beginning of the year
- Lack of intention
- Decrease in caring about work
- Procrastinating on work that they used to do quickly
- Homework not being turned in on time (or at all!)
- Projects not started until the 1-2 days before
- Craving more sleep
- Grades are slowly getting worse
- Not bringing work home
- Doesn’t want to talk about school
- Becomes reclusive
If you’re answering check, check, check…consider giving your teenager a mental health day on a day that works best for them (ie one where there isn’t a test they will have to make up). Help them determine what they need to get back on track.
Remember, our goal is to raise self-aware, resilient, emotionally strong, healthy and happy young people who can go out into the world and advocate, know what they need when they need it and honor this within themselves!
With Much GrADDitude (and an emotionally happier child),
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