Researchers, professors, parents, and educational leaders have been discussing how the “high achievement” expectations are the cause of high incidence of anxiety and depression on teens. Middle and high schoolers are under no precedent stress: GPA, AP classes, Honor titles, excessive homework, and schedules… everything to try to get an “Ivy League” ticket. In this post I will share how to set up balanced expectations.

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I have a pre-teen at home, and everybody advises me: Be prepared, you are entering the though years! (In my mind I just answer: What? I feel that I had enough already!). Jokes apart, I relate to the concerns of every parent about how raising a teenager is challenging, so in this post, I will share how I am not scared about dealing with a teen at home, and what really concerns me. 

One of my strengths is the ability to use challenges to create a learning path, so teenage years don’t scare me. When people say:

  • They will challenge you because they also will have opinions. Truth, but I don’t understand why is this not amazing? Why should I expect someone that only agrees with me and obeys me? I see here an excellent opportunity to teach and learn how respectfully agree and disagree.
  • They will test your (and the world) limits! I understand how this can be dangerous, but guidance is the key. I see here opportunities to teach responsibility, consequences, and independence.
  • They are inconstant, they are trying to figure out who they are.Well, count with me! I am an expert on this journey! I am trying to figure it out who I am and how to position myself in a better way in this world every day…

I am prepared for the hard times, I had worked with teenagers in Brazil for 12 years, and I see this as a very enriching moment. I admire when they are lost, how hard they try to find a way to understand who they are in this world, or at least how to position themselves. So, all these teens’ issues do not scare me.

What I am really concerned about is how being a teenager in this “high achievement” times can make parents and students stressed and lose the sight of what is essential. Teenagers are usually stressed with overload homework and schedules that they don’t have time to experience the path of being a teenager.

I just came across this article that I agree 100%. My insightful advise is for you to read it too. Pay attention to what the author says:

Teens need to:
Experience learning as joyful and exciting.
Read for pleasure.
Play a game where winning doesn’t matter.
Figure out who they are and what they value.
Fall in love, not with a person, but with a passion.
Discover not what the world can do for them, but what they can do for the world.
Reflect, wonder and dream, breathe, and live in the moment.

Cathy Vatterott

Now, compare these goals with your family and school’s expectations. If these seven goals are not in the sight, this indicates that your expectations are not focusing on what is crucial. If you have a teen at home, talk about what the author’s highlighted in her article:

Teens need to know that:
School is not the real world and that in the real world, the rules will differ from place to place.
Their worth is not determined by their GPA or how many activities they are in.
Focusing only on the future insults the value of the present.
Failing a test or even a course does not make them a failure.
Their success is not enhanced by someone else’s failure.

Cathy Vatterott

I expect that my son challenges me so we can talk about respect, responsibility, consequences, and independence. I hope that he shares with me how he is confused so I can share with him my journey to discover who I am. Besides, what really concerns me is how it is easy to lose sight of what is essential, and set up expectations that will lead to anxiety and depression.

Schedule a conversation about school’s expectations, homework overload, and ways to study smarter.

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One thought on “Be prepared for the teen years (no, not for the mood changes, and challenges of parents’ authority) but for the stressed teens in the “high achievement” era

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