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A New School Year is Here: Beware of Your Teen's Over Commitment

Posted by Dr. Ann Gatty

Do you have a teenager who already seems over-committed in the new school year?  Seeing friends, enjoying school activities, and all that goes along with the new school year is exciting.  Teenagers are used to juggling many roles on a daily basis, but watch that your teen doesn’t say “yes” to too many new activities. This is true especially if your teen has a part-time job or is participating in a school sport or band.  With daily practices or job responsibilities and homework, time availability can be at a premium.  Add to that schedule studying for the SAT’s and making college plans.  Of course your teen has regularly-scheduled academic assignments such as term papers, algebra homework, science projects and reading.

Now add these questions that might be going through your teenager’s mind: “Will I have a date for the Homecoming Dance? Why is my best friend mad at me? Why did they post that picture of me on Facebook? Will I be picked for the school play or make the varsity team?” No wonder your teenager can feel overwhelmed. What can you, as the parent, do to help?

First, did you know that many teens feel that they are under more stress than at any other time of their young lives? These teenage years — with text messaging and social networking — make life move fast. So it is helpful for you to monitor the activities of your teenager and make certain there are not too many activities scheduled that cause your teen to become overwhelmed. Watch out for your teen saying “yes” to a lot of activities which friends are planning and agreeing to participate in a number of clubs, teams or events — this can become a time management nightmare. It’s important to realize that some teens have anxiety problems that can cause them to overreact to stress where even small difficulties seem like a crisis.

The following three strategies are suggestions your teens can follow to successfully juggle the many daily events in their lives.

1. Guard against over-scheduling. If your teen is feeling that time is stretched too thin, consider cutting out an activity for a while and prioritize which activities are most important. Try identifying a goal or two for the year, such as choosing a college or thinking about careers they might be interested in. Then have your teen prioritize which activities help advance them toward meeting that goal.

2. Get a good night’s rest. The biological clock shifts during adolescence, and many teens prefer to stay up later at night and sleep later into the morning. That does not work with the current school schedule, so your teen needs to get to bed earlier than he or she may want in order to be alert early in the morning.  Help your teen learn how to re-arrange the homework schedule and get it done earlier in the evening — or tuck in some time right after school.  If your teen needs to spend some late nights meeting a homework deadline, build in time to catch up on rest soon after the assignments are due. Oh, and you can help your teen learn how to manage time by building a study schedule to prepare for tests early—a little each day before the scheduled exam.  That is a great way to help your teen stay more relaxed, less stressed and able to concentrate with needed sleep!

3. Be realistic. Watch that your teen does not try to have unrealistic expectations. Nobody is perfect and no one is good at everything. Not everyone can be a star athlete, an accomplished musician or at the top of the class. Help your teen get in the habit of asking for help when he or she needs it. There is no embarrassment in that. If and when your teen makes a mistake, make certain that your child learns from it but doesn’t dwell on it as a weakness or flaw — and try not to be overly critical of your teenager’s mistakes. Trying to do too many things in a small amount of time leads to poor results and can cause your teen to experience self-doubt, lower self-esteem and develop a lack of self-confidence. Doing fewer things and doing them well is a healthy way of managing time and feeling successful in these hectic teenage years.


About Dr. Ann Gatty

Ann Gatty, a life coach, inforpreneur, author and organizational strategist. She has taught in classrooms and organizational training sessions and now works as a life coach for professional and personal development. Dr. Gatty has developed curriculum for college courses, organizational training and personal development. From her work and personal experiences, she finds a continuous need among women, of all walks of life, to find a life balance between professional goals and personal responsibilities. Ann Gatty hosts a website,, which offers stress management strategies, life skill development, and a means of finding your true passion in life. She has also authored Discovering God’s Recipe for a Healthy Body, Heart and Soul. Ann Gatty earned a Ph.D. in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education. She is married, the mother of two young adult boys, and shares her home with her husband, two Great Danes and a Bassett Hound.

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