Ten Ways to Help Your Teen Tackle Problems
By Vanessa Van Petten
Learning how to approach a problem or a big project is a life skill that many adults do not ever learn how to do (I am still learning).
Recently, I have been working with a lot of teens on how to approach and get through their big school projects. I realized there was a system to approaching all of their issues, whether it was a science fair project, a history report, and, in one case, planning the school prom.
Here are 10 ideas you can use, and what you can teach your child as they start to deal with bigger issues in their lives.
1) Find a Starting Point
Half of the battle is finding a starting point, so before they worry about the whole project, have them focus on the first step.
2) Break It Into Pieces
Teens and kids especially get overwhelmed–usually to tears, when there is a looming project that feels like mountains of work. I always make the first step to actually break the project into pieces of steps.
3) Write Out a Plan
Writing out each of the parts of the project, as well as how much you plan on doing each day, is very calming and a good way to organize your thoughts.
4) Learn Your Limits
When I teach time management, one of the biggest issues I face is teaching kids how to know their limits. Maybe they want to study and memorize all of chapter one on Saturday…but can they? I ask them to think about waking up on Saturday with that huge slate of work, will they really be able to do it, or is it too intimidating? Sometimes it goes the other way–too little work for a certain day so the last day before the test/project/event they have to pull an all-nighter.
5) Schedule in Breaks
How can anyone get anything done without taking a few breathers. I always make a schedule and plan in a lunch out, time to workout etc. Tell them that scheduling in and taking breaks is just as important as getting the project done…if you take breaks you will get it done better!
6) Teach How to Take Breaks
Ok, maybe this is just me. But, when I was approaching finals, or when I have a lot of work to do on my blog. I plan in breaks like “wash dishes, vacuum apartment, call mom” etc. These breaks suck. Make sure you have them take breaks that are really fun and give their mind a rest.
7) Getting Over A Block
If you get writers block or cannot get inspired, teach your kids to take a walk outside, leave the house, play a game or do something totally different to get inspired. Sometimes taking a step back is the best way to see the whole picture and get inspired.
8) Sleep Is the Best
To do good work and to concentrate, you must schedule in sleep time when dealing with a big issue. It can also be a great time to get over writers block or a fear of failure.
9) Context and Priority
It is always important to take a step back and realize before you stress, how important this project is in the scheme of your life. I also try to emphasize the idea of priorities. Especially when I am focusing on the details (like font or color). Is the font what is important here, or is getting it done on-time more crucial at this point?
10) Take a Deep Breath
I often am called in when it is already too late to plan or take breaks. In that case, it is important to take a deep breath and approach the problem calmly and with a level head. Oxygen to the brain and a few deep breathing exercises can calm anyone down to do their best work.
You can do anything!
Vanessa Van Petten is the teen author of the parenting book “You’re Grounded!” She writes a parenting blog from a teen’s perspective to help parents understand what is actually going on in the mind of kid’s today to make life a little bit easier.