Tips for Parents

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Adolescence is marked by a whirlwind of changes that are exciting and scary for parents. Teenagers become more independent and are developing problem-solving skills, but they are also at an increased risk for developmental, mental, and behavioral health problems. Often these problems result in teens having lower school- achievement which can be hard for parents to see- because often they know that their child can do the work.

Recent studies of middle and high school students found that parental involvement was valued by the teens (much to their surprise!). The authors were able to identify specific types of supports that were associated with increased grade point averages, decreased depressive symptoms and other behavioral concerns.

  1. Scaffold for your adolescent – this means slowly increasing independence and decision-making opportunities. Start with offering two equally good choices to your younger teen, and as they get older, give more of a freedom to try and fail to your teen. Recent studies have shown that kids with a growth mindset (working hard is better than being “smart”) take on more challenges later in life. Support a growth mindset by offering choices to your adolescent, and framing problems in terms of opportunities for learning and growth.
  2. Create structure at home – A good way to practice scaffolding, creating structure at home means providing time and space for your adolescents to do schoolwork or learning activities, while not becoming over-involved in individual assignments. Resist the urge to jump in when your child is procrastinating – but allow them to try and learn from different methods and timelines of completing work and asking for help.
  3. Connect school with the future – At times, it can be hard for your adolescent to connect the weekly math problem sets with their desire to go to college. Open a conversation with your teen to invest meaning in their current schoolwork.
  4. Show love – Even when teens push away from parents, studies have shown that teens deeply want to know that they are loved no matter what. Be warm and loving to your adolescents – warmth and love multiply the effects of each of the strategies above.

Were these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments!


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