In the world of a high school junior, March Madness has NOTHING on May Madness, my friends. The combination of AP exams, registering for and taking standardized tests, prom, school productions, regular coursework, preparation for final exams, etc. The list goes on and on. What students have to juggle throughout the school year is already staggering and it gets crazier in May! In fact, with students I work with, this is actually a time I take a step back from our "scheduled" meetings and work with them on an "on-call" basis to help ease the stress and overwhelm. Here are a few tips to help you help them - so you both can come out the other side! It's as easy as A, B, C:
1. A - Acknowledging and validating the craziness. It seems so simple but sometimes hard to do when your teenager is snapping at you for the millionth time for what feels like a simple question. Think about how great it feels when you're talking to your friends about "said" teenager and sharing that story and they say "Oh my gosh, I know, right? It is SUCH a crazy time. Mine is totally acting the same way. It is totally not you. It's like they turn into an alien from another planet and then summer comes and all is great!" WOW, automatically you feel like someone understands what you're going through. And it's the same with your teenager. Just acknowledging that they have a lot going on and letting them know you understand is a powerful combination. It could be something like "It makes so much sense that this is a crazy time - look at everything you've got going on. Anyone in this situation would be feeling like this and look how well you're handling it all. I'm really proud of you"!
2. B - Being their source of support. "Wait a minute", you might say. I totally support them. I KNOW you do! And they know it too. Support is an interesting thing, though, because many times, we approach how we support someone from OUR perspective of what they need, versus what they may ACTUALLY need. During this time, YOU need support AND they need your support. So, the key is to support your teenager in a way that supports them BUT doesn't deplete you! It's all in which definition of support you use. "Support" is literally defined as: "bearing all or part of the weight" and "to give assistance or keep upright". THAT'S the definition you're looking for! BE on the lookout for when they may be about to "topple over" - they'll probably tell you - and then ask them how you can support them at that moment to keep them upright! By not bearing all of the weight and giving assistance when needed, you're supporting them in the way they most need it at that moment AND supporting yourself.
3. C - Championing them. Very much like support, with some extra cheerleading and reminders that they've got this. Sharing brief tidbits about how they've gotten through stressful situations this year, ways they've done it, things they're great at. Introducing thoughts about what we've accomplished literally shifts the brain from what we can't do to what we CAN do, which helps relieve stress and overwhelm and puts us into creative solution thinking. The immediate reaction you get may still be any of the 7 Dwarfs of May Madness: Grumpy, Grouchy, Cranky, Sleepy, Hungry, Prickly or Gloomy, but what you're saying is being HEARD by them and that's what counts! You'll be helping them to know you've got their back and that they can do this!
Those are my A, B, C's for May Madness! Thanks for reading! I hope that you feel acknowledged, validated, and supported as the amazing parents you are! I'm here to champion you!
And, if you'd like to explore how we can work together so that both you and your teenager receive the support you need for wherever you are in your college planning, I invite you to apply for one of my complimentary discovery sessions by CLICKING HERE.
Wishing you a wonderful May and a great Memorial Day Weekend!