In a culture that glorifies being busy, how can we ever slow down? And how do we pass the importance of taking a breath on to our kids?
Today’s teens, are, on the whole, busier than ever. School is just the beginning; there are sports to play, service hours to acquire, instruments to practice, clubs in which to participate, college applications to write. Some studies have shown that nearly half of teens surveyed feel stressed all the time.
With such hectic lives, teens—and some parents—may be forgetting to slow down and prioritize. Read on for three practical tips to help your teen pare down and focus on what matters.
Decide What’s Important
Teens might feel pressure to overcommit themselves for different reasons.
Maybe everyone around them is doing the same, or they want to do the same activities as their friends. Maybe they’re doing it out of a sense of obligation. Maybe they feel the need to fill up their resume for college applications. Or maybe they just aren’t sure what to do, so they try to do everything.
If you have a sense that your teen is overwhelmed with their responsibilities, you might decide together that it’s not necessary to be involved in five different extracurriculars. If they’re participating in something they don’t seem to love, ask them if they’re really still interested.
If you uncover that they’re doing something out of a sense of responsibility to you, reassure them that they don’t need to take on more than they can handle.
Instead, encourage your teen to focus on things that really interest them and not feel guilty about saying no to things that don’t. This will help them build lifelong good habits and learn to balance their schedule on their own.
Help Them Prioritize
One of the difficult parts about balancing a full schedule is trying to understand what to do first. If your teen isn’t used to doing this, it’s no wonder they may be feeling stressed.
Helping them set priorities and goals around their responsibilities could be as simple as purchasing a planner, creating a calendar system, or helping them start a bullet journal.
If the problem is too much homework, it can be trickier. If they’re truly feeling overwhelmed, encourage them to take ownership of the situation and talk with their teachers. Or probe deeper – are they really studying for two hours straight, or is part of that time spent on Facebook or texting? Demonstrate that focusing on something without distractions often helps you work faster and with better results. One idea is to encourage them to take control of their attention study schedule with a little more structure. Use social media and texting for (timed) breaks once an hour, or treat it as a personal reward after homework is done for the night. Whatever works better for them.
Finally, don’t forget about basic needs like getting enough sleep (teens need between 9-9.5 hours each night) and eating healthy, balanced meals. Does your family struggle with screen time at night? Encourage your teen (and maybe yourself, too!) to get off the phone and go to bed at a reasonable hour, and offer healthy options for breakfasts and snacks.
Regardless of your age, taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to make sure you’re functioning at your best.
Choose Activities That Provide Real Value
When it comes to helping your teen stay focused, lead by example. There’s nothing wrong with getting involved in something because it’s fun – and fun is certainly important – but why not encourage them to choose something fun that will also provide lasting benefits?
For example, doing some kind of service work – whether it’s at your place of worship, through school, or in the community – is a way to get involved that provides a host of benefits, from improved self-esteem to gaining real-life experience. Share with your teen the joy that can come from serving and focusing on other people.
Service Opportunities for Teens
Looking for a resource to get your teen started with service?
These PGK service opportunities for teens can be done anywhere, no matter where you live. And did you know our new Give Back App (get it at the App Store) is designed for teens? Have your teen choose one that interests them, and encourage them to get their friends involved. And remember to share your project with the world using #CreateTheChange!