Tips to help your teen relieve stress

Today, more than a quarter of teens say they experience extreme stress, and more than a third say they expect their stress levels to increase in the year to come. Parents agree: nearly 40% of parents say their teen is experiencing high levels of stress from school.

Often parents respond to the stress levels of children by wanting to manage or alleviate their stress. In reality, not all stress is negative. A healthy level of stress can motivate students to learn to manage tasks, prioritize, and get things done. However, chronic stress during difficult seasons can pose long-term challenges for teens. Experiencing stress for extended periods of time can lead to depressive thoughts and behaviors, and teens may turn to unhealthy coping methods. Here is how you can help.

1.) Identify the root of the stress: Is this short-term stress, or a long-term problem?

Short-term stress — like finals week, for example — is temporary, and the stress levels will go back to normal shortly. A little bit of stress occasionally is to be expected, as teens take on more responsibilities and prepare for their next steps after high school.

Long-term stress, in contrast, is not sustainable and points to the need for change. Is your teen’s course load unreasonably demanding? Has your teen taken on too many extracurricular endeavors? Or, is the root of the stress time management? Does your teen tend to procrastinate? Maybe your teen has too much screen time and is not spending enough time on homework? For other teens, stress is unrelated to school work and connected instead to peer pressure or social worries. Getting to the root of the stress is the first step in creating a plan to relieve it.

2.) Look at how you respond to stress in your own life.

Teens pick up on our cues. How do you react to stress? Do you make lifestyle changes to alleviate it, or is your response to your own stress unhealthy? Your teen may respond similarly.

Use your own stress as a platform to begin the conversation with your teen. Be honest about how you handle it, and acknowledge where you could approach stress differently. This opens the door to authentic connection, and lets your teen know you are here as an ally when stress feels unmanageable. When your teen responds, offer undivided attention and really listen.

3.) Partner with your teen to develop a stress relief game plan.

Come alongside your teen to navigate the root of the stress. Resist the urge to micromanage; instead, be present for your child as a resource. If the stress is part of a larger theme, like problems with time management, struggling with perfectionism or taking on too much, discuss the needed changes. Consider helping your teen make a schedule for studying, or plan a lighter course load for the next semester.

Then, get tactical. What are some small ways that your teen can relieve stress in the moment? How can your teen draw on a support system for help? What brings your teen joy? How can your teen use physical activity to relieve stress? This could be as simple as taking the family dog for a walk, playing a favorite game, sport or aerobic activity. Plan activities that you and your teen can do together, too.

For some teens, stress may be a symptom of a larger problem. If you are in the middle of a challenging season with your teen, it can be tough to determine what to do next. Consider Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency. Shelterwood combines boarding school excellence with the best in therapeutic care for real transformation. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose.

Take the first step for hope, real heart change and real restoration for your teen. Reach out today: 866.585.8939.

Homework struggles? How to coach your teen

With Spring Break in the rearview mirror and summer vacation around the corner, this time of year marks the home stretch for academics. Yet it can also spell challenges for your teen. It is easy to lose momentum, and your teen may be feeling discouraged.

Has homework become a daily struggle at your home? Our tips for coaching your teen:

1.) Approach homework as a team sport.

Although you and your teen may be at odds when it comes to getting homework done, remember that success is a team sport. You are not rivals, but teammates. Butting heads will happen occasionally, but an attitude of teamwork can work wonders. Remind your teen that you are on their side and that you are ready to work together to make a game plan for success.

2.) Talk openly to pinpoint struggles.

Choose a time when both you and your teen are calm and not distracted. Ask specific questions to identify the specific struggles your student faces. For example, if your teen says, “Math is too hard,” dig deeper. What aspects of class are most challenging? Is the subject matter confusing? Could your teen need tutoring? Or perhaps your teen feels insecure about low grades compared to peers. When you get to the core of the problem, you and your teen can create a solution.

3.) Understand what kind of student your teen is.

To be a good coach, it can help to identify what kind of student your teen is. At Shelterwood, we have found that most students fall into one of four kinds of students:

  • The Motivated Student: This student is driven to achieve and independently pursues excellence in school. The Motivated Student is passionate about academic success.
  • The Motivated, Accommodated Student: This student wants to do well academically, but may struggle in one or more classes. This teen receives help in school and, even with limitations, still strives for success.
  • The Procrastinating Student: This student waits until the last minute to complete homework. It can be difficult to tell that the Procrastinating Student is falling behind until progress reports are sent home. The student may not struggle with the material, but with the timeline. This struggle may be confusing for parents and frustrating for the family.
  • The Combative and Resisting Student: This student becomes agitated and upset by simply mentioning homework. There may be many reasons that a student is combative, including struggles with the subject matter, frustration over lack of study skills, power struggles, undiagnosed learning disabilities or emotional struggles.

4.) Encourage your teen in a way that connects best.

As with any good team, it helps to understand what motivates your teammates. Understanding how your teen approaches homework can reveal big clues in how to encourage them and draw out their best performance. Support your teen based on what motivates them:

  • The Motivated Student: Support this student by providing the time and space to make decisions. This student can often be critical, so be a constant cheerleader. Regular encouragement can help this student maximize full potential.
  • The Motivated, Accommodated Student: When this student falls into the trap of simply looking at the day-to-day successes and failures, frustration can set in. Coach your teen with frequent reminders of the full arc of his or her improvements. It is important not to do this in an empty, vague way, but to truly celebrate success with specific affirmations. Tutoring and peer study groups can also be valuable.
  • The Procrastinating Student: Issues arise when parents are unaware that their student has been procrastinating, and this can erode trust. It can help to ask this student homework-related questions daily, communicate with teachers and support your teen in scheduling. At the same time, be cautious of taking on too much. Rather than allowing your teen to defer responsibility to you, start the conversation about what lies beneath the procrastination. Maybe fear and self-doubt, not laziness, is paralyzing progress.
  • The Combative and Resisting Student: Instead of engaging in the battle, empathy and loving engagement are how you can best coach your teen. Set aside the homework and focus on your teen as a person. This can help get to the bottom of things and uncover the right solution. Consider professional therapy to diagnose and treat underlying issues. Resistant teens can sometimes push parents into expressing their own anger. Rather than taking your teen’s opposition personally, recognize that this teen is in a critical place and in serious need of help.

Homework doesn’t have to be a battle, and parents can come alongside their teen as a coach by knowing their student’s strengths and weaknesses. Are homework struggles becoming a daily problem for you and your teen? Is your student stumbling academically because of anxiety, depression or other concerns? Shelterwood offers real hope and real restoration for struggling teens. Contact us to see if Shelterwood is right for your teen. We are here to help.

Finding identity beyond social media

Teen life today involves more social media now than ever. Research finds that 94 percent of teens go online daily, and 74 percent of teens use more than one social platform. While social media creates connections in creative, fun ways (think: Snapchat face filters!), it also has many risks. Teens are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying, isolation, perfectionism and comparison on social media. You as a parent play a vital role in helping your child navigate social media and identity.

Here are three ways to help your teen cultivate identity beyond social platforms:

Help your teen set boundaries

Boundaries are critical for teen social media usage. When you develop boundaries for social media, be sure you and your teen do it together, as a team. Ensure the boundaries are centered on love. “Rules are fear-based, but boundaries and guidelines are more relational,” says Julie Faddis, Assistant Clinical Director at Shelterwood. “If you and your teen are struggling to have open communication, work on solidifying the foundation of trust and forming that positive relationship.”

When your teen establishes boundaries around screen time, they have more time to cultivate offline interests. Boundaries free up time to build relationships, stay active in their hobbies and serve in the community. Help your teen create realistic boundaries and then follow through with love and consistent reinforcement. Read more on how to help your teen set boundaries here.

Help your teen build a support system

Teens may be connected to hundreds of “friends” digitally, but they also need in-person community. Research shows that more social media time can lead to isolation and loneliness. Help your teen expand their circle, so they know they have a network of people who love and trust them beyond their screen.

Create opportunities for your teen to further engage with people who could be a positive influence. Support systems connect your teen to meaningful relationships beyond your family. Your teen can learn his or her value as a person beyond the image projected on social media. Read more on how to help your teen build a support system here.

Be aware of warning signs of technology addiction

Technology addiction is a growing concern for teens, particularly on social media. Addiction can be defined as someone engaging in a behavior that is repetitive, and that person has lost control over that repetitive behavior, says Ken DeBlock, Shelterwood’s Director of Substance Abuse and Recovery. Social media is marketed and designed to engage teens for a long period of time.

“It is a fundamental principle that people need connection,” Ken says. “Yet these devices provide a very different type of connection. Connection to other people is not through personal experiences but through this online resource. This makes it easier for teens to project who they want to be and how they want to feel. There are many more opportunities to be inauthentic. These platforms center on a controlled environment that is easier to dictate than actual life.” Read more about how to help your teen with their screen time, and how to tell if your teen may have an unhealthy relationship with technology here.

Utilize these three tips to support your teen’s healthy social media usage. If you’re concerned about your teen’s technology usage, consider Shelterwood. At Shelterwood, we offer real hope, real heart change and real restoration for struggling teens. We are committed to bringing heart change to teenagers and restoration to families. Connect with admissions today: 866.585.8939.

Warning signs and triggers: Helping your teen to be aware

Parenting teens is no small feat, and it is natural to be mystified by your teen’s behavior sometimes. It may seem like anything and everything can set your teen off. Yet, the situations that seem to push your teen’s buttons, often called “triggers,” can have patterns. A “trigger” can be thought of as an event, a feeling or a situation that precedes an emotional response. Helping your teen become more aware of those triggers is central to stopping the out of control behavior. Here are some steps to guide your teen towards greater awareness:

Observe your teen’s behavior to notice patterns

We often discuss a trigger as a precursor to an angry outburst, but triggers can be precursors to many responses. Common situations and feelings that may “push your teen’s buttons” and trigger an outburst include:

    • Being told “no”
    • Bad news
    • Being left out
    • Being bullied
    • Being criticized
    • Not knowing what to do
    • Being ignored
    • Overstimulation

Of course, just as every teen is unique, your teen’s triggers will be unique as well.

The first step to helping your teen be aware of triggers is observing and being familiar with the situations that make your child restless, frustrated or upset. Pay attention and be aware of warning signs of triggers, and look for patterns and connections.

Think backwards

When your teen does have an outburst, consider what happened beforehand. For example, perhaps your teen may act angry and restless when it’s time for them to study for a test. This could indicate a trigger — maybe your child is struggling in the class and doubts his abilities as a student. The trigger could be a feeling of inferiority or worrying about getting a bad grade.

Consider your teen’s perspective

You may assume that you know what happened, but your child may have experienced the situation differently. Give your teen some space to cool off, and when things are calm again, ask your teen to explain what occurred. Truly listen. How your teen articulates what took place could reveal some important clues about triggers.

Start the conversation

Feelings and triggers are directly connected. The trigger itself is not the root of the problem; how your teen thinks and feels about that situation is. Choose a time when both you and your teen are calm and relaxed, not in the middle of an outburst, so you can both communicate authentically and clearly. Share with your teen what you have noticed about their triggers and related behaviors. For example, you might say, “I’ve noticed that when you’re studying for a test, you get upset and lose your temper.” Ask questions about how your teen felt before, during and after the situation. Allow your teen to share freely. This conversation opens the door to awareness about triggers.

Stay patient

Ultimately, make sure your teen knows that you are here to be a resource. You are your teen’s greatest advocate and central to their support system. As life changes, triggers can change too. Identifying and managing triggers is not easy, but helping your teen become aware of their own triggers can be a turning point for your family. With time, your teen can learn how to anticipate their triggers and develop a plan for a healthy response.

If your teen is struggling, consider Shelterwood. We combine clinical excellence with a faith-based approach for real restoration. Contact us to explore how Shelterwood can help your child.

Five ways to help your teen release stress and relieve anger

Of all the emotions your teen faces, anger can pose a unique challenge. Releasing anger in heated moments is no small feat. Anger is a difficult emotion, particularly when coupled with stress. Show your teen how much you care by coming alongside them, helping them to relieve anger and release stress. Here are five ways to guide your teen towards a healthy response to relieving anger and releasing stress:

1.) Model healthy habits for your teen when you are angry.

Even when we may not realize it, teens are watching how we respond to challenges. So, in moments of frustration and anger, seize the opportunity. When you take responsibility for your own emotions, you show your teen what a good response in a tough moment can look like. Anger can be a healthy reaction to an injustice, and personally, anger can be good when it’s expressed in a focused way instead of using it to harm or punish others. Take a break from the situation to cool down, or channel your anger into something productive, like exercise. If you do overreact — after all, we are only human! — own your emotions and use the moment as a springboard for discussion.

2.) Table the conversation for the moment.

We all know the feeling: sometimes, when all we feel is outrage, we simply need to cool down. Give your teen space in a moment of anger. This shows your teen that you respect their emotions enough to wait until they are ready to share. A few minutes of quiet can deescalate the situation. Particularly if the anger is in response to a conflict between you and your teen, taking time to cool off can turn the tide. Once the tension has lifted, maintain an open mind as you enter into conversation.

3.) Acknowledge the root of how your teen is feeling.

More often than not, there is something deeper beneath your teen’s anger. Chances are, something stressful has happened and this angry moment is a delayed reaction, or the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” so to speak. Particularly if your teen is rebelling, the key is in getting to the root of the cause. Parent from a place of love, engage a support system when you need it and communicate with consistency. If you worry that your teen may be in the middle of a difficult season, here are some signs.

4.) Truly listen to what your teen has to share.

Listening can be a difficult aspect of communication, especially with a struggling teen. When your teen does share, take the time to be present and listen well. Reserve your own opinions for the moment; simply showing your teen that you can be a trusted sounding board can help your teen calm down and relieve anger.

5.) Be aware of patterns in anger, because it could be a symptom of something bigger.

The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that a staggering one in five children ages 13 – 18 live with a mental health condition. Although your teen may appear angry on the surface, this emotion could indicate a serious problem, like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, drug abuse or alcohol abuse. If you suspect this could be the case, expand the conversation past the moment at hand and start the conversation about mental health.

If you are worried about your teen’s anger, it may be time to get help. Consider Shelterwood, a  residential treatment agency. We combine boarding school excellence with the best in therapeutic care for real transformation. At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. Today can be a turning point for your teen and your family. Take the first step towards real restoration. Contact us now: 866.585.8939.

When parenting feels overwhelming

Even on our best days, parenting a teen can seem overwhelming. Navigating how best to care for your child in the transition to independence is a challenging balance. If you are feeling drained, know that you are not alone. These tips can help you stay the course.

You are okay.

It is normal to feel overwhelmed. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect teenager, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Strive for good, not perfect. If your teen is acting out, do not internalize his or her behavior towards you. Your teen is going through a developmental stage. Even teen rebellion can be part of growth. It’s normal and okay to feel anxious and worried about your teen’s stage. Try to be objective about the stage and realize it is not your fault. It’s simply the journey that they are on.

Do not compare.

When you look around at families of teens like yours, it can seem like everyone has it easy. Yet, in reality, other families with teens are wrestling with conflict, struggling with boundaries and facing other challenges just like yours. Falling into the trap of comparison is not helpful for you or your family. “Comparison is the thief of joy,” as Theodore Roosevelt said. Instead of comparing, shift your mindset to gratefulness and positivity.

Utilize community resources.

You are not alone. When you feel overwhelmed with parenting, leverage resources available to you. Your church or school may have a parent networking group that meets regularly either online or in person. Additionally, there are many reputable resources online to equip parents like you.   

Schedule self-care.

When your life is focused on your teen, you can easily forget about your own care. It is important to stay healthy. Get rest and regular exercise. Schedule time to see your friends. Give yourself permission to say “no.” To best serve your teen, you need to be emotionally, spiritually and physically well. When you prioritize yourself, you model a healthy lifestyle for your child, showcasing the value of self-care.

Reach out for help.

If you have reached the point where you are constantly burnt out, your family may need additional support. A residential treatment agency like Shelterwood can offer your family true restoration. Check out this blog if you’re debating whether it’s time for residential treatment.

At Shelterwood, our desire is to create an environment where teens know they are loved, valued and have purpose. Teens arrive at Shelterwood when they are at their worst, and often leave with a transformed heart and a life restored. To learn more about how Shelterwood can help on your teen’s journey to restoration, call 866-585-8939.

Ideas to earn influence with your teen

When your child was young, connecting was easy. They relied on you for even the simple things, like getting dressed and eating meals. Now that your child is a teenager, however, your help is not as needed. In fact, they may want to distance themselves from you as much as possible (especially in front of their peers!).

As your teen establishes their own identity, remember that they still need you, just in a different way. Your unconditional love as their parent is invaluable and irreplaceable. As they shift, you can shift how you connect with them. Here are four tips to earn trust and earn influence with your teen:

1) Schedule one-on-one time

One-on-one time with your teen is a valuable way to connect. Be curious about their interests. Ask your teen what they want to do. You might plan a nice meal at their favorite restaurant or a day trip to a museum. Whatever the activity, make sure it is meaningful to your teen. Also, follow up. Make your time together a routine. For example, if your teen loves movies, make it monthly movie time.

2) Cook together

Homework, chores and other expectations may drive your teen to isolate themselves while they are home. To get them more involved with the family, ask your teen if they would like to cook or bake together. Teach them how to make that recipe they always devour. Or, perhaps they have a sweet tooth and you can try a new cookie recipe together. Let your teen own the cooking; let them select what they want to make.

3) Get to know your teen’s friends

Friendships are vital to teenagers. Take the time to get to know your teen’s friends. Care about their friends’ families and their activities. Make your home a space where your teen and their friends want to be. Let your teen host movie night or a game tournament at your house. Buy pizza for them. Give them breathing room to have fun together.

4) Listen to your teen

Your teen has a lot going on. Take the time to listen to their needs and frustrations. Ask questions at appropriate times. Avoid jumping to solutions. Give them space to come to you and navigate their own thoughts and opinions. Ultimately, your teen wants to be known. Listening to them allows you to get to the root of the issue and love them in meaningful ways.

If you are still struggling to connect with your teen, consider Shelterwood. At Shelterwood, we are driven to see the lives of teens transformed. We surround teens with a community of people committed to their growth, including dozens of dynamic young adult staff. Contact us to begin your journey to family restoration.

How to help your teen build a support system

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a familiar saying, and with good reason. As your teen grows, it is important for them to get to know other adults who are here to help. A support system equips teens to solve problems independently. Relationships with people besides Mom and Dad show them that they are so well loved, even beyond their immediate family. Plus, a network of trusted adults teaches teens to seek out resources when they face a challenge. Here are some ways to help your teen build a support system, fostering strong relationships among other important adults in their life.

Show your teen what it looks like to ask for — and accept — help.

Helping your teen build a support system starts with you. When you accept help, you teach your child an important lesson: everyone needs help sometimes, and it is okay to ask for it. Start with something small at home. Ask your teen for assistance putting away the groceries. Ask a friend to water the plants while you are out of town. Your teen can also benefit from seeing you support someone else. If a neighbor just had a baby, for example, invite your teen to join you in preparing and delivering a meal. This demonstrates how a community of people come together to help each other.

Invite other influential adults into your family’s life.

One way for your teen to begin building a support network is by strengthening relationships that already exist. Create opportunities for your teen to engage further with people who could be a positive influence in your teen’s life. Informal interactions set the stage. Invite the new youth pastor over for a casual weeknight dinner. Join your teen in volunteering locally, where he can meet other adults driven to help a good cause. Do not overlook those in your family, like grandparents, cousins or aunts and uncles. Help your teen foster these relationships in an informal setting.

Help your teen expand the circle.

The next time your teen asks for help, resist offering a solution right away. Instead, consider how your teen might reach out to another trusted adult. Point your teen in the right direction with ideas of people who can reinforce the same kind of positive behavior you hope to model. For example, if your teen is worried about his class schedule for the next semester, suggest his guidance counselor. If your teen is struggling with peer pressure, you might suggest her older cousin who faced a similar challenge when she was younger.

Nurture your teen’s passions.

Help your teen build bridges to adults who are pursuing paths that mirror your teen’s passion. For example, if your teen loves animals, help him set up volunteer opportunities at an animal shelter. Your softball player daughter might volunteer at a clinic for kids playing t-ball. These situations introduce your teen to people who have turned their passion into a career.

At Shelterwood, we believe in the power a community can have to restore a child. In fact, our young adult mentors are central to our program at Shelterwood. If you are curious about how Shelterwood can help your struggling teen, reach out to our admissions team. We are here to help.


Screen time and teens: How you can help

Is your teen spending too much time using technology? If you worry about your teen’s use of devices, you are not alone. A report by Common Sense Media indicates half of all young people feel they are addicted to their devices. Almost 60 percent of adults think their kids are addicted too, and a third of parents and teens say that they argue daily about screen time.

With today’s teenagers never knowing a world without the Internet, many struggle to use technology in a way that is healthy. “Our society is moving so quickly with technology that kids now have access to a very large social world that they may not have the maturity to navigate,” explains Ken DeBlock, Shelterwood Academy’s Director of Substance Abuse and Recovery. Learn more about technology addiction, why there is such a rise in the “screen time” challenge and how you can help your teen.

Technology addiction, defined

Ken characterizes addiction as someone engaging in behavior that is repetitive, and the person has lost control over that repetitive behavior. “So a teen might say, ‘I am just going to play games for one hour today,’ and then end up playing five hours every day of the week,” he explains. “It is okay to have a routine, but when you try to change that routine and find yourself unable to do so, that trends more toward an addiction than a routine.”

Technology addiction includes a wide range of behaviors and devices — video games, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, television and video streaming and so much more. “We only have so many resources — including time, money and energy — and as something becomes addictive in your life, you put more time, money and energy into that thing,” Ken says. “For example, a teen may have been a straight A student and is now receiving Ds because they do not have the time or energy to invest in their schoolwork anymore.”

Why is technology addiction a growing problem for teens?

Not only are video games and online platforms marketed well to teens, Ken points to how they have evolved. Video games used to be designed around completing levels to win the game — think about games like Mario Cart — with the option to pause, save the game and come back to it another day.

“Over time, games and platforms have become more about rewards based on length of time you play. You build an online profile or online world, and your character gains access to bigger and better things based on how long you play . . . it is a cycle: the more someone plays or participates, the more they earn.”

Another feature in today’s games and social platforms is the focus on community. “It is a fundamental principle that people need connection,” Ken says. “Yet these devices provide a very different type of connection. Connection to other people is not through personal experiences, but through this online resource. This makes it easier for teens to project who they want to be and how they want to feel. There are many more opportunities to be inauthentic. These platforms center on a controlled environment that is easier to dictate than actual life.”

Another contributing factor to the rise of technology addiction is how ubiquitous technology is today. “This technology is just so prevalent in society. You can’t walk down the street and not see someone on their cell phone,” Ken says. “We have been constantly conditioned to look at these phones that we all carry in our pockets. Even if you take a day to turn off your own phone, you still hear other people’s chimes and buzzers. Even during class, if a teen has a phone in their pocket, the buzzer goes off. This is classic conditioning.”

How to tell if your teen is addicted — and how to help

One key sign that your teen may have an unhealthy relationship with technology is withdrawal from people and activities that used to bring joy. “Your teen does not hang out with friends anymore, does not go to church anymore, no longer enjoys extracurricular activities,” Ken says.

“When you talk about limiting technology and social media, how does your teen respond? Are they open to the conversation, or do they respond in a way that is argumentative?”

Another sign your teen may be struggling is secrecy surrounding technology use. It is important to differentiate privacy and secrecy, Ken says. “Privacy is healthy as a teenager grows up and matures, but secrecy is different. Do they hide their technology use from you?”

Helping your teen starts with healthy communication. Share your concerns openly, but with lots of empathy. “We’ve all fallen into the technology trap at some point. Your teen is not alone in this.” Guide your teen in setting up a structured plan for technology use, including a break from technology before bed to ensure healthy sleep. Make sure your teen has pathways for healthy recreational activities as well. Encourage your teen to participate in extracurricular activities and facilitate those options at home as well.

At Shelterwood, teens learn healthy social skills with no cell phones allowed on campus. They practice living a healthy lifestyle, including classes, counseling and fun technology-free activities. “We allow teens to practice healthy recreation with opportunities to swim in the pool, go for hikes, play in our soccer and basketball leagues and just enjoy being in community with others.”

Are you worried about your teen’s use of technology and the Internet? Take the first step toward restoration for your teen. Reach out to our admissions team today: 866.585.8939.

Three tips to help your teen set goals

With the new year around the corner, now is a great time to talk with your teen about goal-setting. Here are three strategies to facilitate your teen’s goals.   

1.) Guide your teen in identifying personal goals.

It is important to distinguish what it looks like to set goals for your teen and set goals with your teen. Aim for a collaborative approach: your teen’s goals should not be your goals for them. Rather, guide your son or daughter through the goal-setting process. Encourage them to start with goals they find exciting. Academic goals are a good place to begin, but goals can also stretch beyond the classroom. For example, if your teen is involved in a club, their goal can be to take on leadership roles in the activity.

Focus on realistic goals that are just out of reach. Good goals are also specific. Work together with your teen to break down their goal into practical, actionable steps. Use our downloadable goal worksheet goal sheet to help set them up for success. This sheet will help your teen commit to the process of following through and seeing their goals to fruition.Goal worksheet Shelterwood Help your teen set goals 791x1024 Three tips to help your teen set goals

2.) Cheerlead your teen en route to meeting goals

Show your teen that you are in their corner with consistent check-ins and encouragement. You want your teen to stay on track with their goals, but understand that we all have to adjust along the way. Affirm your teen’s efforts even if things do not go exactly as planned. Be respectful of their timeline, even if it doesn’t align with what you had in mind. This is their goal, and their progress depends on their commitment. Ask how you can help support them in achieving their goal. This shows you care and are always there for them.

3.) Follow up

Celebrate your teen’s wins. When they achieve certain milestones, encourage them to keep going. If they achieve a really big goal, gather your family to celebrate. Recognize all of the hard work they put into their success. This helps to build your teen’s confidence: having accomplished this goal, they will feel equipped to tackle even bigger goals.

If they do not achieve a goal, help your teen identify external factors and barriers that influenced the outcome. Motivate them to adjust their current goal or make a new one. It is okay to move forward; we all experience setbacks.

At Shelterwood, we know that encouraging your struggling teen can be difficult. We hope these tips can help you connect with your teen. If you feel frustrated and at a dead end, Shelterwood Residential Treatment Agency might be a good fit for your family. Call us today for a confidential assessment: (866) 585-8939.