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September 2015 Newsletter

September Is A Time For Fresh Starts And Good Habits

by Elisa Navarini, MFTI

It’s that time of year again – back to school! For some parents and teens, the end of summer vacation brings on feelings of disappointment, stress, or anxiety. For others, it’s a time of excitement and anticipation.

Regardless how you feel about back to school, here are some tips to help your teen start the new school year on a positive note.

Clean out the bedroom.

Deep cleaning isn’t limited to Spring. Encourage your teen to get rid of clutter. It is likely your teen will be spending more time in her room doing homework, so it’s important to create an environment that is enjoyable. Consider a trip to Ikea or Target to choose some new affordable accents for the room, like a piece of art, baskets for organizing, or a new bed spread. Encourage her to get rid of clothing that will no longer be worn, and replace some of those items with new attire. One of the ways teens express themselves is through their style, and having fresh wardrobe options will boost confidence and be a reason to jump out of bed in the morning.  

Give your teen a back-to-school budget and stick to it.

For some teens, back-to-school shopping is the best part about getting back into the classroom. Setting budget boundaries ahead of time reduces the chances of any power struggles or surprises at the check-out counter. If possible, empower your teen to make decisions around how to spend the budget. This will help your teen develop money management skills, as he will have to determine what items are priorities. If there is something your teen desires and it’s not in the budget, discuss ways he can earn that item later down the road – perhaps he can do extra chores to earn more allowance, or perhaps the item can be used as part of a behavioral incentive.

Help your teen develop a new, healthy routine.

Research indicates that sleep and good nutrition are essential to a teen’s learning and well-being. After a relaxing summer, it’s undoubtedly disruptive to face early morning classes, research papers, and extra-curricular activities. Support your teen in developing a new routine which includes breakfast and at least 8 hours of sleep.

As adults, we often need to decompress after a busy day. Some of us may want to change clothes, watch an episode of our favorite show, or eat a snack before taking on chores or hanging out with friends. Many teens feel the same way. Try not pressure your teen to complete homework from the moment she steps in the door, but instead, help her build ‘homework time’ into her routine.

Be positive and encouraging. Focus on the process, not the product.

Your attitude and expectations at the start of school will set the tone for year. Some teens become stressed about getting good grades, perfect attendance, or the making the varsity team. Have an open conversation with your teen about your desires and expectations for the new school year, and ask him about his own.

It’s wonderful for your teen to have goals for the new school year, but remember — as much as you may want your son or daughter to get straight As, join a team, or learn a specific skill, high school is a time for self-exploration. Encourage your teen to develop goals that align with her values, strengths, and interests. In addition, help her set goals that are realistic – easily attainable goals are not satisfying, and overly-ambitious goals can set your teen up for frustration and failure.

The best thing you can do throughout the school year is remain positive and encouraging, focusing on the process and not the product. Celebrate successes, and reframe undesired outcomes. Like Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed, I just found 10,000 ways that it won’t work.” Experience is the best teacher. Help your teen examine what led to successes and failures, rather than focusing on the actual outcome. This will help him develop the ‘softer skills’ – such as critical thinking, flexibility, resilience, and positive attitude – that will help him thrive in college, in the workforce, and in life in general.
Would you like additional guidance in supporting your teen this school year? Contact us at 408.389.3538 to learn more about our services.

About The Author

Elisa Navarini is an In-Home Teen & Family Coach at Los Gatos Teen Therapy. She has advanced training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Crisis Intervention and Management, and Strength-Based Treatment. Elisa has nearly a decade of experience in the non-profit, mental health sector. She previously provided services to high-risk teens and their families at EMQ Families First as well as 1:1 behavioral coaching to youth in a Level-14 residential treatment facility.

Fall 2015 Blog Series Kicks Off This October & November

Following the success of last year's blog series, Los Gatos Teen Therapy will kick off a fresh new series this Fall titled How To Build A Better Life With Your Teen. The blogs will again be authored by various members of the community, including doctors, therapists, educators, wellness professionals, and more, discussing topics such as behavior management and boundary setting, health and nutrition, depression and anxiety, recognizing and addressing drug use, and improving family wellness and engagement, among others. We'll publish a new blog three times per week throughout October and November.

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Los Gatos Teen Therapy provides individual teen therapy, family therapy, group therapy, parent support counseling, and in-home teen and family coaching 7 days a week, including afternoons, evenings, and weekends. For more information, contact us at 408.389.3538 or
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