As teenagers try to get used to the back to school routine, you may find that your child is already beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed by all of his or her new responsibilities. High school can be a very demanding time in a child’s life, sometimes causing good health and fitness to be pushed further and further down on the priority list.
If you attended a back to school or meet the teachers type night at any of the St. Louis area high schools, you’ve probably seen first hand just how much coursework your teen will have to keep organized and complete on time. Whether or not your teen normally struggles in this area, balancing a high school schedule with extra curricular activities can take its toll if not properly balanced.
If your teenager is experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may be time to reevaluate how many activities your child can handle:
- A formerly positive attitude toward school that suddenly changes to negative
- Changes in mood, especially those in which he or she expresses frustration over something that needs to be completed or missing out on a particular enjoyable activity
- Frequent headaches, muscle aches, eye strain or stomach upset
- Changes to physical appearance or hygiene such as unkempt hair, bad breath, lack of showering or dark circles under the eyes
- Falling grades or changes in your child’s ability to contribute positively to a sport or extra curricular activity in which he or she previously performed well.
- An inability to fall asleep at night
- Unwillingness or inability to wake up on time in the morning
Just like adults, teenagers can become stressed and unable to cope with everything required of them. If your teen is experiencing difficulty keeping up with school work, personal hygiene or activities they once enjoyed, it may be time to help your child create a schedule that can be more easily balanced.
In doing so, you must start with the requirements that can not be changed. Sit down with your teen and go over what is expected in each of his or her high school classes. If your child has a particularly heavy course load, you may need to cut out all extra curricular activities such as sports, dance or band. Otherwise, the next step is to reevaluate how much is expected of your child if participating in an after school activity. For instance, find out how late in the evening and how often sports practices will run, how much work is required beyond the yearbook committee meeting or how many recitals, parades or other events your dancer or cheerleader will be required to participate in.
Once you have a clear picture of the work your child must do versus the activities your child would like to be involved in, you can begin to work out a new schedule. However, it is extremely important that you remember to include adequate time for your child to relax with friends, eat well, exercise and get enough sleep. If your teen’s homework will take several hours to complete each night, he or she may not be able to engage in sports or other activities. However, it is crucial for every child to also have some down time, whether that be an hour to play a computer game or text and chat with friends.
As the parent, if you don’t help your children schedule fun time into their day, they will inevitably try to push beyond their physical limits to stay up late, skip a meal or sacrifice something that affects their health, just so they can get that down time that everyone needs.
Though it is difficult for some parents to comprehend, just because you now have a child who is old enough to help you with household or babysitting responsibilities, it doesn’t mean that your teen is actually able to handle it. Many times, teens feel overwhelmed and fearing that you will be angry or let down if they don’t also comply with your needs, can add extra stress, further endangering their health.
If you truly want your child to excel academically, develop good friendships and maintain good health, you must help your teen learn how to set boundaries. Though there may be many activities he or she is interested in, only one or two may be manageable at a time. Once you have a schedule in place that creates a balance of school, sports, work, friends, exercise, healthy meals and enough sleep, remind your teen that it is not written in stone. Agree to reopen the discussion at the beginning of the new year or on some other date of which you both make note, or if a particular class or activity changes, leaving more time in the schedule.
Classes change, sports’ seasons change and even your child’s abilities change, so it’s important to make sure that you stay in tune with your teen’s needs at every stage. Be careful not to plan every minute of every day because every family has emergencies, illness or something that comes up to change the plan. A minor upset in the day should not become a full fledged panic attack for your teen or it’s a good indicator that he or she already feels too strapped for time.
If you and your teen are having trouble seeing eye to eye, you might want to consider meeting with a family counselor who can help you understand each other’s needs and expectations. Any of the following St. Louis counselors should be able to assist you:
Christian Counseling Services – 314-298-0900
Dr. Deborah Miller – 314-650-2834
Catholic Family Services – 314-544-3800
Dr. Rachel Glik – 314-341-4205
West County Psychological Associates – 314-275-8599
For more tips on how to maintain good health for yourself and your family or for the latest health news, follow Jaelyn Jamik on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
To receive Jaelyn’s health articles via email, simply click Subscribe under the photo at the top this article or from Jaelyn’s home page.
This article may not be copied or reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author, Jaelyn Jamik, or Clarity Digital Media. Any excerpt reproduced, not to exceed 75 words, must provide a link back to the original article and joltleft.com.