Helping your teen through exam time doesn’t have to be a mine field of walking on egg shells and tip toeing around. It’s about being practical and helping them identify their own responses and showing them how to address these issues. Ensure you’re not adding pressure by setting unrealistic expectations or standards on them, and they’re not doing the same to themselves. Their lives, their choices, their consequences.
Some students will mask their stress and anxiety with a complete shut down of “I don’t care” and take themselves out of the game by just not trying, or taking part. Making out they don’t care about their grades (if a child in senior is doing this either they’re doing the wrong subjects or they’re not equipped to cope with real world stressors’ or aren’t worried about the future which is another topic for another time).
Some will take on board every little thing and react with either emotional or angry outbursts or both!
Some aren’t academic and may or may not stress over upcoming exam times by getting depressed at their perceived lack of achievement.
Some kids will breeze through exam time, knowing they’ve done the hard work and their best is all they can do (for this group, a huge kudos to you as parents for teaching them these amazing life skills).
Stress is a natural response. It’s a healthy response. It can motivate, drive and keep you focused. But there comes a point where too much stress turns to anxiety and causes mental health and/or physical issues. Everyone’s stress levels differ. Help your teen identify when they’re moving into unhealthy stressing and give them some coping mechanisms such as the one’s listed below. If it gets too bad it may be time for some professional intervention such as school guidance counsellor, seeing a psychologist through a GP Allied Health Plan or Headspace etc or helping them learn meditation and breathing exercises.
You can check in with them regularly – not when they’re studying but on the drive to school, at breakfast or dinner time – it’s important during exam times to have family meal times – no devices, no study notes, no headphones, just family time to offload, talk things through, to keep a bit of normality in their lives.
You can give them their space. Ensure they have a quiet, suitable study place in the home where younger siblings will leave them alone and they can concentrate.
Spoil them: My grade 11 daughter has her study desk in her bedroom which at the start of study period I plaster with positive and encouraging post-it notes for her, reminders to take a break, breathe and hydrate etc. I also stock it with bananas, fruit and nut mixes and her favourite chocolates – Lindt.
If they’re working part time help them to manage this with study and deadline expectations. For student’s going for university entry scores now is not the time to be getting as many hours at work as possible, now is the time to prioritise study. Teach them how to liaise with their boss to get required time off. Short term losses for long term gains. It’s also a great life lesson to teach them.
One of the greatest skills teenagers can learn is time management. Teach them how to prioritise tasks can help reduce stress and help them feel more in control. Having assessment pieces handed in prior to due dates teaches them not to leave things to the last minute, reducing a lot of stress. It also then clears them up to focus on exams.
Teach them all the tricks you learnt or if you weren’t very academic or scholarly ask someone you know who was, for their top tips. As someone with 3 degrees, mine are:
- If you can’t explain something in under 3 sentences, you don’t understand it well enough. Study to understand, not remember.
Remember, if stress gets beyond the normal, seek professional counselling and services.
Good luck seniors, school holidays are so close.
Good luck parents, empty nest is far too close now (and that’s a whole other article).
With Christmas and Graduations just around the corner, get in early and pick up some of our last remaining copies of Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens which is 16 chapters of tips to help your teens navigate the real world. Pick up a copy for just $10 HERE
My 9 year old does his own laundry, because …. he can!
He CAN carry his washing basket to the washing machine.
He CAN put the washing in, turn it on and put the detergent in (because I taught him).
He CAN take it out of the machine.
He CAN reach the clothes line.
He CAN use pegs (most boys learn this at age 5 when they put pegs on their lips, eye brows and ears!).
He CAN get the clothes in when dry.
He CAN take them to his room.
He CAN put them in their right drawers.
Now, just because we can do something doesn’t always mean we should, but in this case, if he CAN he should.
He SHOULD learn life skills that instil independence.
He SHOULD learn the value of his clothing by taking care of them including washing them.
He SHOULD learn work life play balance by scheduling in ‘boring’ chores in his week.
He SHOULD see mum as someone other than his maid.
He SHOULD carry his age appropriate share in the household lest he grow up with a sense of entitlement.
He SHOULD have responsibilities that directly affect and benefit him.
I work 38 hours a week plus. I take care of the shopping, mum taxi (omg sooo many hours clocked up as mum taxi), running the household, most of the cooking (he also cooks one night a week as do his sisters, but that’s another story) etc etc etc.
He goes to school for 30 hours a week. Spends 4 hours a week in after school curricular activities (all sport focused because that’s how he rolls) and spends most of the rest of the time playing (trampoline, xboxing, getting fit (he’s obsessed at the moment), practising magic, watching WWE, watching the NRL, watching America’s Got Talent, Running, hanging out with mates etc etc etc – therefore half an hour for putting the washing on, getting it in and putting it away leaves ample time for all the ‘kid’ stuff.
His footy team have a parent roster where on a rotational basis the families take responsibility ever 12 or 13 weeks for providing the fruit for half time and washing the jerseys. For the past two years Mr 9 has been responsible for collecting the jerseys from the coach at the end of the game, responsible for washing the jerseys, hanging them out, folding them up (still perfecting that but we go for progress, not perfection) and putting them in the jersey bag and returning to the coach. Why, because he can. Because it’s his team. Because HE plays footy not me (I pay registration, I pay for the new boots, the new shorts, the shocks, the mouth guard, the headgear, the chest pads, and I”m the mum taxi and biggest fan/cheerer). This teaches him to contribute outside himself. This teaches him to give back. It teaches him it’s awesome to have fun, but works often goes into fun. Ultimately it’s my hope that this teaches him gratitude for what others do for him.
And if he wants to earn pocket money the Bank of Mum pays $5 for a load of towels, $5 for a load of my washing amongst other chores he and his siblings can choose to do for spending money for holidays, events, going out, or saving.
That’s why my 9 year old does his own laundry.
Have an awesome week and stay warm.
Two weeks until holidays for we Queenslanders’ – hoping for snow within driving distance for ours.
Reflections usually happen around the start of the year which also coincides with my birthday – good timing! This year I’ve been focusing on what I want to be when I ‘grow up’. Contrary to what our kids and teens think, most of us adults are just winging it, and the decisions we make as seniors in high school rarely see us in the ‘career/job’ we thought we’d be in 30 years later. It’s important to keep reiterating this to your senior schoolers – it helps take the stress out of things that your decisions now, are it! They’re not. We get so many goes at creating our own lives and we get so many lives within our one life. As part of my work in the Aged Care Industry one thing that is common in across all conversations with 80 and 90 year olds is that we have so many different lives within our one life.
The good news is if you make bad choices in one part of your life, that doesn’t have to reflect in your next chapter. We get to decide. We get to make choices that change our ‘destinies’ and we get to create our own lives. Another amazing thing to teach our kids. Our choices, lead to consequences that create our life = awesome. One of my favourite sayings goes something like this “If you’re not happy where your life is, get up and change it. You’re not a tree!”. One bad choice may result in some pretty bad consequences but that doesn’t define who you are or who your teen is. Next choice can be better, and so on and so on. Same goes for us and our budgets.. just saying 🙂
But just like anything in life once you’ve made the choice to go in another direction, start a new career, start budgeting better, plan a holiday or whatever your new dream is you need to set yourself achievable and measurable goals. Teach your kids how to set goals. Maybe do some as a family this week before school goes back. Talk about what making the choice to achieve a particular goal will look like in the form of the consequences .. short and long term. And as always I promote doing vision boards. A page with pictures of your dreams on them… then setting your goals, mini and mega, on how you’re going to get there. Eg. Family holiday that will cost $10,000 in 18 months. Well that’s X amount per week we need to save, so in order to do that we will cut x from the budget, declutter our home together then hold a garage sale or Ebay to get rid of it and bring some extra cash into the home (or find extra work, or take on extra clients or shifts, or teens getting jobs or or or the possibilities are endless). Your life, your choices, your consequences remember 🙂
Since I was little I’ve wanted to be a writer. I still do. That hasn’t changed at all. So I write where I can. I get paid to write reports after my assessments. But ultimately my absolute passion is in researching and writing articles, ebooks and books that improve other people’s lives (usually because it improved mine first through learning the hard way). So with that in mind I’m still writing my blogs, I’m still promoting my book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens and beginning my next one “How to raise independent, responsible and resilient humans’ (or something like that… haven’t got the exact title yet), and have another venture or two up my sleeve that I won’t jinx by talking about it before it happens. Stay tuned…..
It’s still the first week of January.. first week of the new year.. a clean slate still before us.. what choices will you and yours make this year that require goals to bring about the desired consequences that create the lives you want? Go for it.. you’re all worth it and what a great thing to role model to your kids and teens.
If you haven’t joined our Facebook private group, come on over HERE
The kids spoilt me as always for my birthday… all with their own money and minds. Miss 15 got me a massage voucher, Miss 14 a spa pedicure voucher, and Mr 9 a scented candle with diamonte heart band, and Choccies. We went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 3 and then Chinese Banquet dinner nom nom nom. Have felt the love with all the texts, calls, and posts xo xo xo I’m 35..with a ‘few’ years experience 😉 Thank you for the love, I’ve definitely felt it.
This photo was taken almost 40 years ago! And when looking for a suitable photo for today’s blog on Mindful Parenting I came across it and thought it illustrates perfectly what I want to say today. The older child, is me.. almost 40 years ago! When I turned 21 my Dad said from now on you’ll find time goes so much faster. He was right. This parenting caper we think will never end when they’re toddlers and primary school kids, goes at lightning speed once they hit the teen years. For my parents they don’t just wonder where the 18 years of our childhoods went, but where that last 40 years went! And as our own kids near their teen years or enter them we begin to think have I taught them all they need to know, there’s still so much more they need to learn for the real world, have I prepared them enough.
In Australia we have 25% of our population living in poverty! (Oh wow this blog took a hard core turn! Did not see that coming!). The Poverty In Australia Report (2016) states that 17.4% of all children (under 18) were living in poverty in Australia in 2013-2014. For single parent homes that rose to 40%! And that was an increase from the 2003 to 2004 period!
“More than 730,000 children live in poverty
(one child in six). In single-parent families,
four children in ten now live in poverty.
After 25 years of uninterrupted economic
growth, we can do better than this!”
David Morawetz, Australian Communities Foundation (Social Justice Fund)
One major way this stops and corrects itself is to break the cycle (you may have seen me use #breakthecycle a fair bit, it’s so close to my heart). And how do we do that?
It starts at home. It starts with making different choices for ourselves and our kids. We can blame the education system all we like but the harsh truth is real life lessons should be learnt and taught at home. Sadly, many adults do not know how to get themselves out of poverty or are unable to and therefore are unable to role model and teach this to their own kids. (Obviously I”m not talking about people with significant disabilities (mental or physical)).
Mindful parenting is the idea of raising your kids in a purposeful way. On top of all the extra curricular activities and being a ‘kid’, it’s about implementing things in the home that teach them life skills and more importantly money skills and strategies that will help them stay out of poverty.
Your kids only get one childhood. it goes by so fast. My parents look at the above photo from almost 40 years ago and wonder where the years have gone, let alone the 18 or so we had as our childhoods. Parents, we’re all doing our best to make them memorable, but we also need to focus on making our kids childhoods and teen years purposeful and ready for real life so they can not just survive, but thrive. THIS is how we break the cycle, together.
Of course I can’t let the opportunity go without plugging my book “Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens” which may have some great information for parents too who perhaps had parents themselves who couldn’t pass a lot of real life skills and knowledge on to you. Sixteen chapters of guidance, advice and tips on succeeding in the real world. Only $10. If you know someone who’d benefit why not buy a copy and gift it to them, maybe even anonymously if you’re worried how they’ll react. TOGETHER we CAN break the cycle!
You may have also noticed a name change from Mentor Mumma to Parenting Australia. I felt the latter was more encompassing. If you haven’t joined our online group yet please do so HERE
Happy New Year. I have such a great feeling about 2018. Let’s make it fun and full of adventure for our kidlets and ourselves but most of all, let’s make it purposeful for them, and ourselves – we all deserve it. Together, we WILL break the cycle!
Senior school subject selection is going on in a lot of homes across Australia at the moment. My miss 15 is in grade 10 and it’s that time of her school life. Is it causing your child anguish? You? I hope not.
Almost all of their schooling lives I’ve let the kids decide what THEY want to study and what extra-curricular activities they take part in (within reason otherwise Mr 9 would be doing 10 sports a week!). Senior school subject selection is no different. It’s her choice. And just as with anything choices bring consequences – good, bad and indifferent.
Education is very important in our home, because I know it gives options and opportunities. My main aim with their education has been to get them to a point where at the end of grade 12 they have a variety of choices and are not limited in what they want to do because of grades. We reward effort as much as grades because effort is what gets you places in life. Grades are what open doors. Other pathways offer different doors. I want my kids to have as many doors open to them as possible so THEY can choose – uni, tafe, workforce or a combination. But at least they’ll have choices.
This is where Senior subject selection comes in. Making the right choices and by right I mean the choices that help them reach their goals but also bring joy and fun along the way. One of my favourite quotes:
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, LOVE of what you are doing or learning to do”
Pele (Famous soccer player)
Now, having said that there are a myriad of ways to achieve their career paths these days and for kids who want a profession they’ll need university. However, even university has options these days. Currently Miss 15 is wanting to do be a Doctor of Medicine in the Army. Medicine these days is not dependent on an OP 1, although it helps. There are options but there are also pre-requisites which must be met.
For kids who want to work in a trade, child care, hospitality etc etc etc there are apprenticeships, traineeships, TAFE and trade schools. Just so many options.
Then there are those kids who will want to go straight into work. So many options there too – private sector, public service etc etc etc.
In my book, Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens there’s a chapter titled To Study or work, or both? In this chapter I talk about encouraging your kids to find their passions early on and try to make a career from that or with elements of it. Not every furniture making super star will want to be a carpenter, but it sure is a good place to start.
So as you navigate these next few weeks encourage your kids to look at what they enjoy and what they’d like to spend their lives doing. Have them look at what they’re naturally good at – a great starting point for career decisions. Remind them that if they change their mind in two years time that’s okay, just as it is if they change their minds in 10 or 15 years time. Very few people stay with the same careers or jobs their whole working lives these days. You can change your mind at any time. You’re not a tree, you can uproot yourself and move and change jobs and careers. There are many many options and pathways to your chosen careers and jobs these days. But as always do your homework and know what they are. If going to Uni know what prerequisites are required. If going to TAFE know what is required. If going straight into the work force look for work experience in areas that enhance their employability.
I’ll leave you with the advice I gave my Miss 15:
“Choose the subjects you NEED to do,
then make the rest of your subjects ones that are fun for you”
So now she’s busy working out what she really needs and it seems although she needs Chemistry for some Universities, there is the option to do it as a 4 week course at the end of grade 11 or 12, and have that counted. Meaning she can do her beloved Drama class for senior years. Everyone wins. There are options. Dare to dream kids, the world is your oyster. What options are you giving yourself?
Have a great week and happy subject selecting. Would love to know what your grade 10’ers are currently considering for their future selves (how many of us actually ended up doing what we initially set out to do..very few I imagine, and such is the fun and adventurous rollercoaster that is life).
You can pick up a copy of my hard copy book here
So you’ve got preteens or early teens. Congratulations, you’ve entered a fresh new chapter. (Some call it a fresh new hell! But it doesn’t have to be that way.) It should be an exciting relationship building time – fraught with challenges, conversations and collaborations.
When kids are under 10 and their behaviour is inappropriate we reprimand, discipline and when required punish. But as they get older how we treat them should change. Our relationship dynamics change and rightly so. We don’t want them to remain children we want them to grow into responsible and respectful young adults. Preteen and early teen parenting requires less to no discipline, and
more relationship building and communication – listening, a LOT, and using teachable moments to mentor, to guide and to provide insights
(which doesn’t mean there’s no phone confiscations, screen time modifications or increased chores at times – these can be great behaviour and attitude modifiers when a message isn’t getting through!).
Many will state they want more independence, great, that’s what you want for them too – help them gain this by giving them the independence to make their own breakfasts and lunches every day, the independence to contribute to the family by planning, cooking and cleaning up from a family dinner once a week, the independence to be doing their own washing, and the independence to go to the movies with friends without you (or whatever activity it is – within safe guidelines of course) using money they earned themselves from chores around the house.
In our home I look for teachable moments (okay so I don’t have to look they turn up every bloody day in a stack of different ways!) and address the real issues, the root causes and work from there. This is only possible by having open dialogue with them, keeping the lines of communication open, being in their lives, actively And setting a standard of respect in the home – respect for self plus respect for others.
If you find your preteen arguing back, this is a great sign that they trust you enough to dialogue with you (silence is never golden, silence is hard to break!). When it becomes an issue is when it’s done with disrespect. Teach them this. Teach them they can argue and disagree with anyone at anytime as long as they do it with respect and have done their research and can back themselves up with facts.
Remember especially preteen and teen girls have a host of self esteem and self confidence issues – help them improve their sense of self worth. Guard what they watch and listen to (and who). Affirmations and positive role models and influences. Encouragement from you – if you as their parent are not their greatest champion, you’re parenting all wrong.
And never be afraid to call in reinforcements. Parenting is not for the faint hearted – consult others – friends, psychologists, articles, coaches, other people of influence in your child’s life.
Seek to build relationship and use teachable moments, putting behind you the years of punishing and disciplining. Let them see you vulnerable and human. Say you’re sorry when you need to and be the type of person you want them to be. We teach people how to treat us, if you don’t like the way your preteen or teen is treating you, change how you respond and teach them how to treat you with respect.
And we do this by building relationships with them: discussions (where they’re allowed to disagree with you!), hugs, encouragement, building a family team environment, listening, loving unconditionally, expecting and setting respect as a standard, and being their greatest champion (when they KNOW you have their back you’ll have a different child on your hands).
You’ve got this xo
PS Have you joined our Facebook Group: HERE
Some kids can’t wait to get back to school, some drag their feet but enjoy it and others suffer anxiety at the thought of anything new, especially back to school.
My master 8 was one such child. Those who know him are confused and shocked by this, but that’s what used to happen. Still does to a much lesser degree the older he gets. The past three years it’s been the start of any school year, footy season or ongoing event with his anxiety manifesting as acting out and and saying he hated whatever the event was!!!
So what did we do and what can you do?
1. It’s important to understand what your child is really saying. For Dan him saying “I hate footy I don’t want to play” (Despite being obsessed with it) for the days before season was him saying I’m scared of the unknown, I’m worried about *insert any number of things*. Before school started what he was really saying was “I’m worried about no knowing what to expect” etc. Once you know what their real fear is you can address it one issue at a time. If you can’t read them and aren’t sure, ask them in a non-confronting way.
2. Know what works with YOUR child. For Dan he doesn’t like talking about the issues so I made sure not to talk directly to him about whatever the upcoming event was, HOWEVER, his older sisters and I would make sure he could hear us when we were ‘talking’ about THEM going back to school (or soccer or Scouts or gymnastics) and how excited they were, we’d use key words that work with Dan such as ‘grown up’ ‘independent’ ‘big kids’ ‘other people feeling exactly the same’ etc. If your child is an avoider then avoid until the last minute, if your child does better with talking things through for days do that. What works for each child will be different. Find THEIR thing and meet them on their level, always with confidence. Often children will pick up on your anxieties and fears.
3. We started the back to school routine a week before they go back. They start going to bed at school night hours. They start making their lunches. They start discussing what they’ll make for school lunches etc. A few days before they wash their uniforms and we go shopping for what they want to make themselvs for lunches.
4. If possible have your child meet their new teacher before the school holidays and find out who is in there class they already know. For older kids talk to them about their entire grade being in exactly the same situation, feeling the same as they are.
5. Teens with anxiety can often be a symptom of something more serious such as nutrient deficiency like magnesium (google magnesium deficiencies, anxiety is one of the top symptoms). It can also be related to bullying, issues with friendships, fearing workload, feeling overwhelmed or ‘dumb’ or stressed about workload. The list is endless! This is where keeping communication lines open from a young age come in to their own. If you can’t get them to open up to you Headspace offers great counselling and you can also get them a mental health plan through your GP to talk to someone on a professional level. Whatever you do, don’t ignore their concerns.
Do you have any other tips you use that work?
Have you watched the movie Bad Moms yet? I absolutely love it. One of the premises is that if you give a child responsibility they will learn life skills, they will launch into responsible and grateful humans. And, school lunches and mornings will be so much easier for you! No more morning stress (well only the missing socks, the missing shoes, the lost hair bands etc etc etc until you get them to prepare EVERYTHING the night before).
Pics of Kit (aged 12 then) and Dan (aged 8) preparing food and doing the dishes because I can’t find the one of him as a preppie making his first ever school lunch like a big boy. He was so proud, I’m sure he grew ten foot that day.
Here’s some tips on how to make it happen for you and yours.
1. Even prep kids can make their own lunches, therefore any school student can! (If they’ve never done it before you will have to show them how for the first week or so, don’t do it for them, but supervise them doing it. Younger kids you will need to do the cutting of fruit and sandwiches but they can get it all ready).
2. They can only pack what you have put in the cupboard and fridge. Have the talk about nutritional needs, protein requirements etc.
3. Get them in the habit of putting freezer blocks in the freezer at night and lunch containers in the sink etc. Teach them to wash their lunchboxes out with disinfectant regularly.
4. Include them in the decision making process of what they would like you to get at shopping for THEIR lunches. When they pack their own and make decisions about what they’d like (with your guidance on nutritional requirements) then they’re more likely to eat their lunch.
What happens if they won’t make their own lunches?
I’ll give you one guess!
Under 9’s get a chunky, sandy, multigrain vegemite sandwich and piece of fruit. That’s it. But they also get to do chores when they get home. Do that for a few days and they’ll get the message.
Over 9’s get nothing. They’ll go hungry. Consequences for their laziness.
Hold to your expectations and they will rise to them. Most kids really enjoy it. Be warned when they are first learning it is messy, and it does take a few weeks for them not to need your help. Have patience. Help them clean up after themselves. Make it fun for them and you. If you’re resistant to them learning to make their own lunches ask yourself why and work on that.
For those with kids and teens not already making their own lunches you could start this week before school goes back.
You’ve got this. #lifeskills breed independence, confidence and responsibility which will become evident in the classroom and playground too. You’re both worth it.
The teen years can be the best of times and they can be the worst of times and often all in the same day.
Making the teen years a success for all begins when they’re under 10. Building relationships. Setting boundaries. Instilling respect, self confidence and boosting their self esteem while requiring them to move toward and embrace independence and responsibility. That’s another article.
This one is for those in the trenches, already surrounded by teens.
Five Tips to Peace with your teens:
1. Ensure their nutrient intake is appropriate. If they consume a lot of sugar their magnesium levels deplete and that’s when anxiety and depression kick in. (So many other nutrients and their deficiency signs covered in our book).
2. Give and expect respect.
3. Stop giving them everything they want. Make them earn them. That’s real life. Put responsibility onto their shoulders. Teaches them respect and gratitude, and the value of time and money.
4. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Do fun things with them on a regular basis that they enjoy and they will open up to you.
5. Parenting now moves into more of a mentor role. Gone are the punishments and control, this is now a time for boundary teaching, goal setting, mentoring, advising, and preparing for adult life.
It’s at this stage of our lives we realise their childhoods are almost over.
We realise we have so much to teach them.
We start to realise we don’t know everything they need to know.
We want them to have all the tools to succeed.
We realise that the gap between what we teach at home and what they learn at school is vast.
That’s where my book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens comes in.
I wrote it to fill in the gaps for our kids.. our teens, our almost adults.
The book has activities at the end of each of the 16 chapters that you and your family can use as discussion points to talk about the various topics in the book such as different types of employment, tax and savings, goal setting and conflict resolution, mortgages and rent, uni, tafe or work, Australian politics (the part where you teach them to critically think about things), compounding interest and 16 more chapters with hundreds of other tips and advice.
Books are 50% off until January 27th. Just $10. Grab a copy for your teen and family today HERE