The end of the school year brings a complete adjustment for teenagers and their parents alike, but for some kids who have difficulty with transitions, the shift from spring to summer triggers anxiety and worry. Think about the kinds of stress teenagers face at this time of year. Big worries overwhelm them like tests and final exam scores that will be reported to colleges. Likewise, smaller worries can cause just as much anxiety like having to do the swim unit at school now that the weather has warmed up. Spring fever also tempts kids to play hooky and enjoy the warmer days. Teenagers can hardly hang on until they are done with what they see as busy work. Other teens may be discouraged about looking for a summer job and discovering they have limited options because they are underage.
The transition from the school year to summer is stressful for single parents, too, because of the shift to a completely new routine. For instance, the single mom or dad needs to come up with a two month plan for their child’s day-to-day summer routine, not to mention the added costs of summer activities and entertainment. These parental problems can rub off on teenagers at home and create even more tension.
If you can relate to any of this, why not shift from the problems and ease into the transition with some new solutions? Try these ideas to navigate the rocky road of change and help your teenager cope:
- Talk to your kids about their anxiety. Some kids are more sensitive to change than others. Talk to them about ways to de-stress, like having them draw out their feelings in an art journal. Or teach them a coping skill they can use anywhere—deep breathing. Have them practice this calming strategy at home so they can use it anywhere else when they might need it. Finally, teach them to meditate by starting with a guided meditation that quiets the mind and body.
- Sneak more fruits, veggies, and protein into their diet. Without your kids even knowing, you can limit white carbs and sugar in the meals you serve. Studies now show that diets high in carbs and sugar cause depression and anxiety, while low-carb protein rich diets can increase energy and even happiness. Cut up veggies and fruit to pair with a light dip that can easily be packed into lunches, served as a snack, or included with meals at home. Give your teens snacks like nuts, peanut butter, or beef jerky for a protein filled pick-me-up throughout the day that will help them have the energy to face term papers and final exams.
- Help your kids get inspired about creative summer jobs. If your teenagers are old enough to work, but find their options are limited, brainstorm a list of ways they can use their skills to make money like pet sitting, mowing lawns, cleaning homes for elderly neighbors, babysitting, selling baked or craft goods, or working at a family business.
- Plan a family vacation so you and your kids have something to look forward to. Have a family meeting to discuss various options that fall within your single parent budget, and come to an agreement on an idea that would be fun for everyone. To save money, you can camp with a group of other parents and their kids, vacation at motels that offer low rates, or stay with friends and family. Bring coupons with you to use at restaurants, pack your own snacks, and use online discounts when booking activities.
- Be consistent as you establish new routines. Ease into the transition by establishing new habits that are workable for you and your teens. Then be as consistent as possible since most people feel more secure—and that includes teens—if they know what to expect. Creating a stable atmosphere at home while your teens are going through change will help them deal with it more successfully and come out on the other side with confidence. While there may be more bumps to come on the rocky road of teenage transitions, these strategies will help single parents give their teens the skills that will help them on the journey towards independence . . . and beyond.