Does your teen seem to ooze long sighs, loud scowls, and mean frowns? Is there a dark cloud over your son’s head when you suggest anything to him:from a new study habit you just read about to a cool movie he might like, does it feel like your idea is pushed into the ground by his negative reaction to you? I know you are just trying to help, but how can you continue to offer advice and how can you continue to remain positive when all you receive in return is a cold shoulder and an icy glare? First, you must understand that your teen, especially if struggling in an academic subject or with his group of friends is right now guided by fear. Yes, fear. He is afraid of failing, afraid of not having any friends, afraid of rejection from his top college choice. Winston Churchill once declared, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” So how to you help your teen to push past his fear, and see the bright side of his dismal situation?
1) Start small. Focus on the specific good qualities of your teen’s life. Did he just turn a major paper in on time? Praise him in a small but noticeable way.
2) Be patient. Remember, Athena from Homer’s The Odyssey once advised “Patience, Iron Patience” to help Odysseus control his emotions. Practice such strong as iron patience when slowly offering praise for small steps with your son.
3) Face his fears. Talk to or write down the worse case scenario for your teen that could result from what he is scared of. For example, “Ok, perhaps you will not get an A on your research paper, but we can always focus on better preparation and going in to see your teacher for help in the future.” 4) Add humor. Smile, hugs, action! See the humor in this challenging part of both of your lives. High School grades, ACT scores, competitive sports, college admissions = stress but with stress comes humor and the ability to focus on the good that does exist. And remember, always, as I do many time with my four, young children, “This too will pass.”