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High school is a time for teens to develop lifelong strategies and healthy habits to care for themselves plus gain independence. A valuable way is to practice self-advocacy and self-care habits that they will use their whole lives while still having the safety net that parents/guardians provide. It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving your child space can be motivating for them. Watch this video clip on how to motivate your child to care about school.

Self-advocacy skills that your teen may work on this year include:

  1. Speak up for yourself when faced with challenges with both peers and adults. Unhappy about a grade, then talk to the teacher. Having a problem with a peer, then try to talk it out first. Teens should speak for themselves first and only need parents to step in when they can’t resolve the issue on their own.

  2. Try to resolve issues by seeing both sides of the problem and compromising when appropriate.

  3. Try new things things that push you out of your comfort zone. Take healthy risks! When successful, you will gain confidence. When you’re not, you can work on improving coping skills.

  4. Volunteer! It can help you to learn interpersonal skills that are beneficial in the school and the workplace. Read about PGHS Community Service requirement for grades 10-12 (optional grade 9)

Self-care strategies that your teen could use include:

  1. Studies show teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Many teens are sleep deprived due to using electronics well past bedtime. Recommendation to keep electronics out of the bedroom in order to increase sleep and improve sleep quality.

  2. Teens need downtime. Not every minute of the day should not be filled with activities or school work.

  3. Get regular physical activity. If you are not currently in PE or a sport, then it’s up to you to make sure you get at least 60 minutes of exercise five or more days a week.

  4. Eat regular, well balanced meals. Some teens skip meals and/or eat candy and chips for lunch. Good nutrition helps students stay alert and learn in the classroom, in addition to the physical health benefits provided.

  5. Limit screen time to no more than 2 hours per day. Parents may limit your teen’s tech usage via their device, cell provider, and many easy to use apps. Go to “Settings” and look for “Screen Time”. You can personalize the amount of usage for each child and see how much time they have been on their phone and at what times. It would be great to limit cell phone usage during the school day so that students can only place calls or texts in the event of an emergency.

  6. Try mindful minute(s) of meditation or yoga to help relax and manage stress.

Check out this article on the NAMI website “Self-Help Techniques for Coping with Mental Illness.” Strategies may be used by teens and adults to improve mental health.

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