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School will be Different: Tips for Parents to Support their Teens Returning to School

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For both parents and teens all things relating to school have been flipped upside down since March. With the possibility of school, no school, or some school, when thinking about this September one can not help but feel anxious. We are living in unprecedented times. 

Parents, as your teens head back to school this Fall, in a year that feels like one where we don’t have much control, here are 3 tips to help support your teens. 

  1. Take note of behaviour changes in your teenager. You know your child best, and who not to notice the subtle signs that your child is struggling better than anyone else than yourself? Trust your parenting instincts when you see patterns that are out of the normal range for your child. The first step is simply noticing behaviour changes that signal that they might be needing some support with. These signs can range greatly from child to child and manifest themselves physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. Pay attention to their clues and you will be on your way to supporting your teen. 
  2. Make yourself available to be a good listener, show compassion and empathy. Find times in the day to be near your child in the quieter moments so that they have the opportunity to chat if they want to. If we are always rushing, rushing, rushing, then a child simply does not have the chance to chat to their parent or guardian. When something is close to their heart they are more likely to open up during the calmer times of the day when they are with you. Be available. Perhaps it is just asking them to join you on a drive to do a small task and you grab an ice cream together en route, maybe it is a short walk with the dog, or even watching a comedy on Netflix together. Think simple, the point is to be with them in the quieter times so you have the opportunity to connect. Ask a question to let them know that you care and that their feelings of uncertainty and anxiety are valid. Doing so will let them know that you are there to support them. 
  3. Model the behaviour you want in your child or teen. This comes down to paying attention to your own behaviour. Do you find yourself checking the news often? Perhaps limit your media exposure if you find that the media you are consuming is causing more stress. Make a conscious effort to not have the news on as often or check your social media less. Your teen might just notice and start doing the same. Carve out a little time for exercise, even if it is a 10-minute walk around the block while listening to your favourite podcast or relaxing music. Movement can have profoundly positive effects on brain health. You want your child to be active, so be active yourself. Create space to enjoy a hobby, even if it’s as simple as reading a good book for 15 minutes. If you make small changes in looking after your own well being your teen will notice as well and very likely start modelling your behaviour. After all, your goal for your teen is for their well-being to be supported, so continue to take care of yourself! 

We are currently offering a variety of courses and workshops – online and in-person- for adults and youth that provide skills and tools to help yourself and others through these challenging and changing times.

If you or someone you know is struggling and needs someone to talk to, we are here for you and can be reached at: 

  • Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
  • Anywhere in BC 1-800-SUICIDE: 1-800-784-2433
  • Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
  • Online Chat Service for Youth: www.YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1am)
  • Online Chat Service for Adults: www.CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1am)