In homes across the world, the evening hours are filled with high school students scrambling to complete homework assignments. For some families, the process goes smoothly with very little problems. But for many other families, homework battles ensue. And it's no wonder why.
According to a poll conducted by the University of Phoenix, teachers report that the average high school student is given 3.5 hours of homework every single night. For students involved in after school activities like sports, this can be a serious burden. Not to mention how difficult this can be for teens who have part-time jobs.
And if the average is 3.5 hours, I know there are plenty of teens who work a little slower than their peers. New concepts don't come to them as quickly and completing an assignment can take twice as long. It's no wonder some of these students feel anxious and overwhelmed each school day.
Of course, there are also students who get their work done in a timely fashion. Perhaps, they even do their homework during study halls and bring very little work home.
If you encounter difficulties getting your teen to do his homework, it's important to work together to develop a helpful plan. Unfortunately, I see teens all the time who fall behind on their work and aren't able to get caught up on their own. Often, they just keep avoiding their work until it's too late to address the problem.
Stay involved in your teen's academics so that you can be sure that there won't be any serious academic problems. If your teen behaves responsibly, you'll know you can take a step back and give him more freedom with getting his work done.
There are a lot of recent reports out lately that document how teens aren't academically ready for college. Many states have declared that their students are behind in reading or math and several colleges have come forward saying that students just aren't prepared for the rigors of college.
Perhaps, more important that a student's academic abilities, however, is their emotional maturity. I think many teens enter into college without the emotional and behavioral skills they need to be successful. Despite the best academic skills in the world, students who lack basic life skills may struggle and eventually fail out of college.
Just because a teen turns 18 or graduates from school, it doesn't mean he's ready to handle the freedom that comes with college. In college, there's no one standing over a students' shoulders to ensure that they're getting their work done or to talk to them about their attendance issues. College requires self-discipline.
Before you send your child off to college, it's important to make sure your teen has all the life skills necessary to handle higher education. Knowing how to do complex math problems and understanding how to do your laundry isn't enough. Teens need social skills, emotional regulations skills and other life skills to deal with the stress and independence that college offers.
I think it's a little crazy that we expect 17 and 18 year old kids to make a decision about what they want to do for their rest of their lives. Most teens have very little knowledge about what types of jobs even exist, let alone any experience that would help them recognize whether or not a particular job would be a good match for them.
The good news is, today's workforce changes so rapidly that most people entering the workplace will have more options than ever before. Where generations past often worked one or two jobs for their entire lives, today's workers are changing jobs many times before they reach retirement age.
Also, there are a lot of options when it comes to what to do with a career. Someone who majors in nursing, for example, could work in a variety of settings - hospitals, schools, nursing homes, in people's homes, or even in jails. And a nurse who gets tired of giving direct patient care could likely change careers rather easily. A nurse could teach classes, take an administrative position, or even work for an insurance company.
It's important to consider these types of opportunities when talking with your teen about career options. Help your teen explore a variety of options and opportunities. Learn more about career planning with high school students to find out how to help your teen search for a career.
Many teens also rack up credit card debt in college. And many students happily take extra student loan funds to pay for "extras" like clothing and car insurance during the college years. As of 2012, the average student loan debt was over $29,000.
That's a mountain of debt for students who are just entering the workforce. Many of them are also looking to rent their first apartments, buy a newer vehicle or even get married. Unfortunately, many students who are in debt also marry someone who is in debt and their incomes are consumed by student loans.
Of course, many students don't ever even finish college. Then, they're forced to spend a decade paying back a loan for a degree they never even earned.
I recently had a conversation with Dave Ramsey's daughter, Rachel Cruze to learn more about ways in which parents can help their teens graduate from college debt free. There are many ways in which teens can fund their college education, even if you can't pay for it. Find out how by reading my interview with Rachel Cruze.
When I was exploring colleges, our search consisted mostly of looking through lots of catalogs and piles of postcards and information that colleges sent in the mail. However, today's college search for teens is much different.
They can use the internet to quickly find answers to any of their questions. They can search forums to learn what other students have to say about a particular school. And, they can go on video tours of the entire campus right from their laptops.
Although in some ways, this makes the college search much easier, having so much information available can also make the decision even more difficult. It becomes hard to narrow down the options when there are so many choices available.
There are several apps available to help students narrow down their college search more systematically. A free app called College Confidential filters a teen's colelge search based on factors such as location and major. It has other features that provides teens with information and answers to their questions about their college choices.
College List is an app that quickly shows basic facts about a college, such as the average SAT score or enrollment numbers. Choose a College Major is an app that can help teens narrow down which major they may be best suited for based on their interests and aptitude.
These are just a few of the latest apps on the market to help students narrow down their college search. There are many more apps that can really make the college search a lot less daunting. Learn more about how to help your teen choose a college.
There's a new study that says teen girls with major mental health issues are three times more likely to get pregnant compared to teens without mental illness. Unfortunately, most pregnancy prevention programs are geared toward teens who are mentally healthy, with very little emphasis on how teens with mental health issues may need different information.
The study doesn't examine why teens with mental illness are more likely to get pregnant. One possible reason is that mental illness is often associated with low self-esteem. Girls with depression and anxiety may not feel comfortable enough to speak up and ask a partner to use protection.
Assertiveness training may be a helpful addition to sex education. It could teach both boys and girls how to talk to a partner about birth control and condoms. It could also help teens learn how to say no if they aren't certain that they want to have sex.
I recently wrote about the benefits of teaching teens assertiveness skills as well as how to teach teens to be assertive. Apparently, incorporating it into sex education is just one more way assertiveness training could be taught and preventing teen pregnancy is another potential benefit.
A new national survey reports that teens report experiencing high levels of stress. In fact, 27% of the teens surveyed said they experience extreme stress during the school year versus only 13% during the summer. Teens identified a variety of stressors, including school, friends, work and family.
Chronic stress certainly has a lot of negative consequences. People who experience a lot of stress risk physical and mental health issues. Stress is also a factor that contributes to a shorter lifespan.
Unfortunately, it appears many teens don't know how to cope with stress in a healthy way. Many of them report not getting any exercise and they also report a lack of sleep. These behaviors, combined with poor eating habits, tend to make stress worse.It's important to role model healthy ways to deal with stress. I suspect many teens just don't know how to cope with stress in life. Sadly, it's likely to lead to more problems, such as depression, if they don't learn healthy skills now.
While we often talk to teens about the importance of physical health, the topic of mental health is discussed less frequently. Some people mistakingly believe that you're either born mentally healthy or you're not. The truth is, there are many proactive thins we can do to keep ourselves mentally healthy.
New research published in World Psychiatry shows teens who watch too much TV, don't exercise and don't get enough sleep have high rates of depression, anxiety and other mental illness. Many of these teens may never get diagnosed with a mental illness or brought for treatment unless they exhibit behavioral problems.
Parents should be aware of the warning signs of mental health problems. But that's not enough. It's also important to teach kids healthy habits that can help them stay mentally healthy. Limited TV, plenty of sleep and physical exercise are just a few of the ways teens can take care of their mental health.
I can't help but wonder if there are gender differences when it comes to being assertive. For example, can a teen boy get away with speaking up to people while a teen girl is seen as being rude or bossy? There are certainly lots of studies that point to this being true in the business world. Women who speak up for themselves aren't necessarily viewed in as favorable of a light as men who speak up for themselves.
I don't think we're doing girls any favors if we encourage them to be passive. It can increase their chances of being bullied and they may not be able to get their social and academic needs met. But, I know many parents also don't want their daughters to be viewed as mean or bossy.
I think teens need a lot of guidance about what it means to be assertive. I often overhear teens say mean things but then add, "I speak my mind." It's essential that we help teens understand the difference between speaking up for their rights and saying mean things to hurt someone else's feelings. This is true whether you're helping a son or daughter understand what it means to be assertive.
Having a child who won't speak up for himself can be hard to watch. Although shyness in itself isn't a bad thing, not speaking up can be a problem. A teen who can't ask a girl on a date or won't ask the teacher a question about his homework may miss out on a lot of opportunities.
It's important not to try and change your teen's personality. He may be shy by nature. But, you can help a shy teen change some of his behavior. Speaking up is something many shy teens need help learning how to do.
Teach a shy teen to be less passive by helping him learn new skills. Also, help him see that even though he may feel awkward or nervous when he speaks up, he can still choose to do it.
Find out more about how to help a shy teen be less passive here.