Parent Workshop Helps Families Demystify the Teen Brain
Solutions Parents and Students Can Put to Use Right Away
The first session in our 3-part parenting support series was on Sunday. SOS4Students’ senior coach Kelsi Kane and I were eager to meet families and help demystify the teen brain!
In “Wired for Chaos: Executive Functioning and the Teen Brain,” we took a close look at the pre-frontal cortex where executive functions live. We talked about what parents could reasonably expect of teens and the most helpful ways to begin boosting teen independence.
Participants came away with tools and strategies to turn around some frustrating situations at home. Hopefully, this will mark the beginning of new approaches and the start of helping teens “adult.”
Are You on Wake-Up Duty?
One challenge we encounter often when talking to parents is the ongoing stress of waking their teens for school. Getting up and out the door on time for class is an executive brain quagmire of self-regulation, planning, time management, and follow through.
While it’s tough to do, it’s essential that we parents put our teens (and even our middle schoolers) in the driver’s seat with their AM routines. Even if you’ve been on wake-up duty for a long time, we recommend you start NOW to let go of your longstanding job as “alarm clock.” Instead, get your teens thinking about strategies and solutions that will help them do the job themselves. The sooner this starts the better.
We know it’s especially tough getting up in the morning for high schoolers. A start time of 8:00 am is not optimal for many kids. But in the interest of decreasing your role in the wake-up department and giving students more agency, the less parent involvement the better. In fact, it’s a great starting point for more student competence and autonomy across the board.
How Should You Get Started?
Pitch having your student take over wake-up duty as a vote of confidence in your teen’s ability to get going without a nudge from you. Say, “I think you’re ready for me to hand over the job of ‘alarm clock’ so you can start living more independently.” (Recognize, though, that the handover may not be as smooth as you’d like and might raise anxiety levels for all involved!)
I can hear you say, “But they’ll be truant!” and my response is “maybe” and “that’s okay . . . really.” Students have to face the consequences of being late as they learn to wake up and get to school themselves. If you’re wondering—“What about our carpool?”—work with your teen to create a plan with a clear timeline and a tool to get your groggy teen moving in the early morning. Here’s where you cue the alarms and notifications—and while you might offer verbal reminders to start, you’ll want to pull back on that eventually, too.
Wanted: Self-Starting Teens
Speaking of the need for more student-initiated action, I was excited to see this recent ad for UC Berkeley’s summer team leadership program. They are looking for independent teens who can jumpstart a job application process.
APPLY TODAY! In the JC (junior counselor) application process, it is the applicant who manages their own application, communicates with their potential supervisor, and schedules their own interview. When a parent needs to communicate on behalf of their child, it is a signal to us that they are not quite ready to be a staff member.
That’s the way to focus on executive functioning independence and self-advocacy, UC Berkeley!
More Good Stuff for Parents
SOS4Students’ parent workshop series continues via Zoom in February and March with more can’t-miss tips, tools, and techniques.
In February, we’ll be focusing on how to communicate effectively with your teen’s school and importantly, how to help your teen take the lead and develop some serious self-advocacy skills as they get ready for college!
In March, we’ll take a close look at how parents and teens can talk constructively and non-judgmentally to optimize student listening and their ability to take action. Parents will come away with new tools and a workbook with templates they can use going forward.
Learn more about and sign up for one or both parent workshops by visiting our website.
Don’t’ Miss Out: Student Winter Workshops Start this Weekend!
There’s still time to boost teen independence this winter with one of our student workshops. Sessions are almost full, so sign up NOW so your student doesn’t miss out.
With these workshops, the end to chronic procrastination is in sight! Each explores the student brain and gives students the inside scoop on why school is challenging and what they can do to ease the load and get going on assignments. Learn More & Sign Up
On Sunday, February 3, we’re holding our signature note-taking workshops. Take Note: Introduction to Note Taking is for students in grades 7 and 8, while Secrets of Successful Note Taking is for students in grades 9 to 12.
Our signature note-taking workshops teach students essential study and life skills (and BTW, highlighting isn’t useful for working memory!). Schools tell students to take notes, but they rarely explain HOW to do it effectively or how to use notes for test preparation. Now more than ever, with information coming from slides, pdfs and videos, students need help on how to gather, organize, and remember key information. Learn More & Sign Up