How to Help Your Teen Thrive in Times of Change

From transitioning to virtual learning to celebrating events and milestones online, kids and teens had to adapt in myriad ways over the last school year. A lot of teenagers have also been balancing part-time jobs and other responsibilities, while others may be looking for a summer job to help pay for college or university. In short, it’s a lot to process.

We know that kids are resilient but dealing with a lot of change can be stressful at any age. After all, being a teenager is challenging at the best of times. Parents are always looking for ways to support their kids’ physical and mental health, and now is a great time to make wellness a priority for the whole family. Here are some tips for helping teens thrive as they transition to a new school year, or their first year of post-secondary education.

Teach them what “self-care” really means

Self-care is important, and the never-ending quest for ‘balance’ starts early. It’s important that teens make time for things that support their well-being, especially if they’re starting college or university (or even just a new school year). A lot of people mistake pleasure for self-care — for example, getting a manicure or buying something that feels indulgent — but at the end of the day, self-care efforts should be focused on improving your quality of life. Simple ways to achieve this include:

● Eating well and drinking plenty of water

● Exercising regularly (even informally — playing sports or taking a walk counts)

● Getting a healthy amount of sleep

● Minimizing screen time, especially before bed

● Making time for creative pursuits and self-expression

● Spending time in nature

● Managing stress in healthy ways

Healthy methods for managing stress may include using organizational systems to avoid feeling overwhelmed, practicing yoga or meditation to relax, playing sports or making art, or talking to someone they trust (a friend, family member or even a therapist). It’s also important that teens make time for safe social interactions with friends, which can contribute to their mental health and sense of belonging.

Be there for them, but encourage independence

It can be hard for teens to transition to college or university life if they’ve always had Mom and Dad there to help — especially if they’re moving into a dorm or other student housing for the first time. Of course, helping kids is what parents do, but having the skills needed for independent living will help your teens thrive and feel confident when they leave the nest. Here are some basic skills they should know:

● How to pay bills and manage money

● How to shop for groceries and cook healthy meals

● Basic cleaning routines to keep their dorm in good shape

● How to use public transportation to get around (if they don’t have a car)

Helping your teens master these skills early on will empower them to make good choices and thrive as they enter adulthood.

Have the right tools in place

All these ideas are great in theory, but it often takes some work to put them into practice. Creating a routine-based system may help (for example, taking a yoga class every week or using a meal plan to make healthy eating simple). It also helps to have the right school supplies, some wellness gear and useful organizational tools. Here are some items you may want to pick up for your teens, whether they’re starting college or still in high school.

A great water bottle like this one that encourages them to meet hydration goals - whether at home or on the go.

A smart watch to help manage sleep and exercise.

An amazing laptop like this MacBook Air for school assignments and entertainment.

Healthy snacks for their dorm room (or for high school kids on the go).

Change isn’t always easy, but with the right tools, it doesn’t need to be hard. Here’s to helping teens thrive in times of transition and enjoy a healthy, happy school year to come.

By Staples Canada

August 13, 2021