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  • Tips To Attuning To Your Teenager's Emotions
    1. Be aware: Notice their non-verbal communication – facial expressions and body language. Listen to what they are saying. What emotion lies behind their behaviour? 2. Clarify: You seem different, are you ok? Is everything ok? Is there anything you would like to talk about? I am wondering if something has happened? 3. Acknowledge and validate: Label emotions Simple phrases are enough: oh; mmm; wow; ok… Use open body language, make eye contact Demonstrate empathy and understanding Use an appropriate tone of voice 4. Don’t judge, criticize or dismiss: Avoid shaming, critical statements. Avoid “you” statements…. E.g. you always do that. Avoid generalising statements and words e.g. never, always etc 5. Wait to problem solve: Observe, validate, hold back from solutions. Ask questions that are open and guiding/supportive of your teen thinking about things and finding their own solutions. This holds more value for their learning. Follow their lead. Don’t pursue your own agenda. Guide gently towards what you might believe about the situation. Telling your teenager will never work! 6. Notice your emotions and don’t respond to these automatically:
  • Positive Parenting Tips
    Don’t say anything to your child that you wouldn’t want said to you. Don’t say anything to your child that you wouldn’t want them saying to themselves one day, as your comments will become their inner voice. Praise realistically. Praise traits and give specific praise e.g. “that was very responsible of you.”; “I am so happy that you felt comfortable sharing that story with me.”; “well done for your persistence and effort studying today, as I know you weren’t interested in that subject.” Avoid “don’t” but rather “do” statements. E.g. “after we finished eating, we all take our plates through to the kitchen.” RATHER THAN: “don’t leave your plate on the table!”“If you are angry at your brother, you need to tell him using words.” RATHER THAN: “Don’t hit your brother!” Avoid being passive aggressive. Say what it is you mean. E.g. “take your plate to the kitchen please.” RATHER THAN “thanks for leaving all the plates for me to take through to the kitchen.” Use positive non-verbal communication: saying the right thing is good, but your tone of voice, facial expressions and body language could be communicating something else and this is detected by your child. Always consider the skills and lessons you are teaching your child whilst disciplining or making rules. Think of the three words that describe the type of parent-child relationship you would like and note whether your daily interactions are fostering these qualities or not.
  • Tips For Parents and Students Preparing For Their Final Year At School
    TIPS FOR PARENTS and STUDENTS PREPARING FOR THEIR FINAL YEAR AT SCHOOL: 1. ATTITUDE TOWARDS YEAR 12: This is one of life’s many challenges and it is definitely mentally and physically challenging. Make the most of the year, as the good memories will be from experiences with friends and family. Encourage an attitude towards this year that could be generalised to future challenging situations: Acknowledge the challenge ahead. Follow an individual plan and strategy and avoid situations where you could become stressed by others stress! Set realistic goals. Be consistent. Be balanced. It’s a marathon and not a sprint! Don’t burn out! Have good supports around you! Be compassionate with yourself. It is a very difficult time! It is easier to maintain a positive attitude when you acknowledge the hardship. Maintain perspective: FINAL YEAR ISN’T THE BE ALL AND END ALL OF LIFE. PEOPLE WHO DO POORLY IN THEIR FIINAL YEAR OF SCHOOL DO SUCCEED; OTHERS WHO HAVE ACHIEVED WELL, DON’T NECESSARILY SUCCEED BEYOND THIS YEAR. Don’t compare yourself to others; there will always be those who are better and those who are worse than you in a particular area. Feelings of inadequacy and failure arise when comparisons are made and people generally only focus on negative comparisons. Try not think too far ahead. Break down the year and the work into sizable amounts. Anxiety stems from future focussed and catastrophic thinking styles. Learn to listen to your body/mind and find a good balance between pushing ahead and knowing when to slow down and rest. THE OUTCOME OF THIS YEAR IS NOT SELF DEFINING: At times, I use the analogy of an Olympic athlete, who has prepared for four years for their event. However, on the day, they might come last and could feel like a failure. The irony is that they remain one of the best in the world and often the very best in their country! FOCUS ON PROCESS GOALS and outcome goals: I emphasise the importance of the “transferable life skills” that are being acquired during the year and are most valuable for future projects e.g. work ethic, persistence, tolerating setback, managing emotions and organisational skills. 2. SUPPORT Parents can offer support to their child by making meals, packing healthy lunches (or teach them to pack their own), transporting them if needed, tolerating and containing the child’s stress with encouraging words. Encourage down time when your child has been working a lot. Avoid placing additional stress on your child by making threats, discouraging comments and/or repeatedly questioning them on everything that they are doing. Sit down and have an open conversation with them about WHAT IT IS THEY WOULD LIKE FROM THEIR YEAR AND HOW YOU COULD ASSIST THEM ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS. If there are particular situations that result in arguments, e.g. time on phones and computers etc. discuss these ahead of time. Let your child know what your fears and concerns are about this issue e.g. “I really don’t mind you on your phone, but I am worried that it easily becomes a distraction or a way of avoiding things. I want to help you do the best that you can do. What do you think would be a good way to structure study time and phone time?” Parents should try encourage their child’s self-management skills in areas of time management. Nagging does not help, but rules and expectations are reasonable. Bring them a cup of tea when they are working and let them know how proud you are of their efforts! Encourage them to prioritise and where feasible, to cut back on other unnecessary commitments. Don’t eliminate all of the extra-curricular activities as they are a great way to reduce stress. If your child is struggling academically, encourage them to seek additional help or support from a friend, their teacher, a year head/co-ordinator or a tutor/learning centre. Should your child be anxious, offer to attend these meetings with them. Schools can provide assistance with support strategies and the option of pathways (different ways to complete the final year), that reduce the intensity and stress of the year. I encourage students to form study groups if it’s helpful and not distracting. The library can be a helpful place to study. It allows for a change in environment and there are other people studying too. It might be a good way to create the distinction between a place to study (library) and a place to relax (home). Forming these associations with places, might be helpful and create structure. The library might not be for everyone, as it can be a stressful place. Where a child is having emotional difficulties such as anxiety or depression, seek help from the school counsellor, a mental health professional or Headspace. Special provisions in the exam setting (scribes, smaller group settings, breaks) are available for students who have special needs (physical or mental) and can be applied for from the department of education. Ask your school or treating health professional about these. HEALTHY AVENUES OF MANAGING DIFFICULTY SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED AND NOT SEEN AS A FAILURE OR WEAKNESS. 3. GOALS Encourage realistic goals. Set long-term goals, medium-term and short-term goals. Long term - This might be a goal for the year: academic outcomes, general attitude and tone for the year, including managing setbacks. Medium term – goals for the term. Short term – weekly goals. PLANNING IS ESSENTIAL TO ACHIEVING GOALS. 4. STRATEGIES Use time wisely e.g. read on bus trips, finish homework whilst waiting at after school activities, use free periods to complete work or study. Plan – This is essential. My tips are to have a yearly calendar and to break down the work and allow for revision time. It is always very important to schedule breaks, socialising time, exercise etc. I encourage free time, as it allows for balance, but it also allows for guilt-free rest time, as it’s been accounted for within the schedule. Planning reduces anxiety, as the work required every day can be visualised. The schedule provides a “road map” that ensures having time to complete all tasks, assignments and studies timeously. It reduces the potential for becoming overwhelmed by the many thoughts of the work that needs to be done. I ALWAYS SUGGEST PLANNING FOR LESS and not overscheduling. E.g. If a section of work requires an hour, perhaps plan for 2hrs. This “loose” scheduling prevents the student from falling behind on their schedule, should something interfere (an event, illness, a difficulty with the work etc.) with the schedule.And any additional time could be used for repetition, practice questions or rest. Notes – making notes after lessons can be used as study time, to recap the day’s work, solidify the knowledge and prepare for the final studies. Encourage the student to make notes interesting using colours, markers and mind maps. Revision time – memory is solidified through repetition. Past papers – these are good to assess the student’s knowledge and progress; as well as weaker areas. Organisation and reducing clutter – Study in quiet and less cluttered places that are not distracting. Encourage the student to pack their bags ahead of time and ensure that they have all their requirements at the beginning of the week. Consistency – aim for daily work according to the planner. In conclusion: There is so much more to life than this year; and it is most important to focus on the skills of building resilience and coping with challenge, as these will be the most valuable to your child in their future endeavours!
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