Has this felt like the shortest summer on record for your teen?
School begins in just a few days almost everywhere. It was only a few years ago that school systems decided to move the starting date of high school from the day after Labor Day to late August, to now the 2nd week of August. Summers have never felt this short for teens or their parents.
On the academic front, this may be a good thing. After all, the United States is falling farther and farther behind in academic scores worldwide and some of this can be placed at the foot of two and a half months off for the summer.
Much can be attributed to the closing of schools, isolated learning, teens wearing masks and their entire social world turned upside down. Let’s not forget that, sadly, many schools are forced to include subjects that do little for academic excellence, but are designed to improve self-esteem and other “soft” topics.
This is also the time when teens with feelings of summer ending and back-to-schools stomach butterflies begin to embrace, unknowingly, a new level of back to school anxiety and stress. Fear about past and future friendships, new tensions at school, or not liking someone, something, or a teacher. There is also the fear of being one step closer to their high school ending and a new life beginning – fear of disappointing their parents.
According to the CDC, 5.8 million teens suffer from unspoken anxiety, 6 million teens suffer from ADHD, and more than 2.7 million teens suffer from unspoken depression. Even worse, 36.7% of all teens have felt persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. That’s one out of every three teens!
How do you find out if your teens have any of these feelings – and then what?
There will not be anything better than the power of conversation between your teen and you. You have to be able to find daily time to dig in-depth into your teen’s life. Some could call it snooping while others call it caring.
My first suggestion is to make dinner time a cell phone-free time. No one, not teens or parents, has a cell phone at the dinner table. No texting or receiving important calls. They will just have to wait. This is your time to engage with your teen.
Question them about their feelings today and if they have any back to school anxiety. Ask about the way they feel about their friends, teachers, classes, subjects, college, etc. Make it fun and insightful. Offer continuously to be part of their lives and a sounding board for them. Sometimes teens would rather talk about their friends than themselves. That’s ok, as this may be just a surrogate conversation about themselves.
Here are some symptoms to look for:
Feeling or appearing overly sad, tearful, or irritable.
Not enjoying life or their experience as you expected.
Spending less time with friends or in after-school activities.
Changes in weight or appetite.
Sleep pattern changes.
If you, as their parent, sense anything is wrong or see these signs of teen depression, then it may be time to seek professional help. You and your teen aren’t broken. Your teen just needs some help.
Here are two action steps you can take today:
By your teen or you, simply grab your cell phone and type BRIGHTER to 741741. This line is open 24/7. You will be able to text-chat for free up to 40 minutes per day with someone trained in teen anxiety and depression, as well as offer parental help.
If this doesn’t help, it may be time to find a live counselor to speak with in person. You can begin with your school counseling department, your pediatrician, or online at www.betterhelp.com as we can help you offset any fees here.
And, as always, we have hundreds of written blogs and articles to help you at www.abrighterday.info, all free.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All our best,