“I can’t wait to do homework!” said almost no teenager ever. Yet kids have many different reactions to summer ending and getting back to school. Some are excited for friends and activities, while others are excited to get back on a schedule. However, most teens would agree that they’re not excited about homework. Why? What is the word most commonly connected to homework? Stress.
A simple 4 Step Process that my clients love to use when they’re stressed is the ABCDs.
When your teen comes home from school looking exhausted and tosses their backpack on the table, how do you react? Your first instinct is to try to help them, but how?
The first step is A: Awareness. Let them know you see their stress help them figure out where they feel it. Is it in their breathing, headache, stomach, or lack of energy? Being aware of stress and its impact helps to gain some control over it.
The next step is to B: Breathe. First, release the breath out by letting all the toxic air out of the lungs and then take a nice deep breath in. Do this by touching each of the five fingers as you take these deep slow breaths. This will slow the brain and nervous system down.
If you saw a toddler trip while learning to run, would you get mad? Of course not. So the next step is C: Comfort. Give yourself or your teen a moment to understand that homework, activities and friends can all be stressful. Provide understanding and show some compassion for the load they’re carrying. Staying here, however, won’t get the stressful event done so now it’s time to…
D: Do Something. Make a list and break it down into steps. Make a plan to do something enjoyable after the task that’s causing the stress, or for the upcoming weekend. Putting yourself in action mode signals to the brain that it’s okay to move on.
Stress is a normal part of life. Learning to understand and gain some control over it is the beginning of reducing its impact on your teen’s as well as your own life.