By the time you’re an adult, you know that middle school and high school only last so long, and that these years are really just a drop in the bucket of what is hopefully a long and rich life. You, the parent, have probably figured this out with a relative equation: those years when your now teen was a wee little baby passed in a blur of sleepless nights and cute outfits you only remember in photos and ear infections; ergo, all other time must pass quickly too.
While you’re right on that (all time, in hindsight, passes quickly) think back to high school for a minute. You either A) thought it would never end or B) it was the best time of your life and you hoped it would never end. (Group B people, by the way, do exist, and while we lowly normal folks envied them in high school, they might not be having quite as much fun now, so be kind.)
If you’re currently throwing up your hands in frustration with your high-drama, my-life-is-a-disaster teenager, let me reassure you – this time is also going to fly by for you. Not so much for him or her. While you may not be able to remember a time more complex than juggling aging parents, kids, work, taxes, friends being diagnosed with cancer, loved ones being down-sized, it exists.
It’s trying to figure out where you fit in socially, seeing that guy you like ask out your friend, having friends with depression, having friends you know are doing drugs or harming themselves, lots of homework, and at this time of year, lots and lots of tests.
There are driver’s tests, AP tests, SATs, PSATs, Standards of Learning tests, and for some of the kids, a final to be taken before all those (so the teachers can figure out how badly their students will do on all that other stuff – and so the kids can practice their glassy-eyed bubble filling). They are getting immense pressure from teachers, (who are getting immense pressure from the administration) and even if they say they don’t care how they do, I promise you, they don’t want to disappoint you.
So whether you recognize how stressed your kid is or not, and whether they will admit it or not, here are six things you can do with that frazzled teen to help them out during this end-of-year insanity.
Make their favorite meal.
Simple, but true; we call it comfort food for a reason.
Feed them healthy food.
Fish, vegetables – there are reasons why the experts call them brain food. This should be most of the time right now, even if that aforementioned comfort food isn’t healthy.
Make them sleep.
If their inclination is to stay up extra late studying for a test, nix that. While we are awake, the brain releases neurotoxins that get trapped in the cells which eventually clog up the works. While we sleep, the brain cells shrink, allowing those toxins to ‘wash away’, so trying to function without sleep is like trying to think with poison on the brain. That’s why your judgement is so crappy when you’re tired. Sleep is always the better answer. So set a hard lights out time, even if they’re seventeen and have been staying up later than you for two years. They won’t thank you later, but they also won’t notice they’re snapping at people and crying less either.
Get outside with them.
If you don’t have a balcony, deck, or patio where they can do a little studying, pack a picnic dinner and head for a park for a few minutes. A walk in nature is incredibly helpful for any human being and, even on an unconscious level, reminds them that there is more to life than books.
Don’t make them go it alone.
Allow them to study with an equally driven friend, or baring that, find something you can do at the same time. It is that much harder to prepare for your Chemistry test if everyone around you seems to have time to post on Snapchat or watch Netflix, so buckle down and focus on something that isn’t fun. Taxes, refreshing the family budget, researching the family tree, anything – just let them know that they aren’t the only human working really hard right now, because that is how they feel.
Do a random act of kindness.
Whether it’s driving them to school so they don’t have to worry about the bus, packing them an extra snack on test day, or charging their phone when they clearly forgot to, do some tiny thing to make their life better. Someday, they will notice and appreciate it.