Managing Change
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May 2022

The teenage years bring many changes, not only physically, but also mentally and socially. During these years, adolescents increase their ability to think abstractly and eventually make plans and set long-term goals. Each child will progress at a different rate and may have a different view of the world. As your adolescent navigates these changes parents can struggle with their changing role from the primary decision maker to more of a supportive coach. Below are some tips to support you and your teen cope with these changes. 
Change During High School Years
For teens too much change may lead to feeling out of control and overwhelmed. We now know that excessive or chronic stress poses dangerous consequences on mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
Acknowledge Emotions The first step in managing emotions with any type of life change is to give yourself permission to experience the emotion so it can run its course. Transitions, like graduation, seem to be entirely positive to onlookers but may trigger feelings of fear and anxiety for a graduate. 

Entering a new chapter of independence can be daunting. Whether it is a change of schools or the breakup of a significant relationship, change can bring out feelings of anger, rejection, and abandonment. Encourage your teen to share their feelings through journaling, talking to a counsellor or supportive adult to help process the full range of difficult emotions.
Shift perspectives Changes, whether expected or unexpected, are part of the human experience and are opportunities for growth. Rather than focus on what was lost, consider potential gains. How can this new situation be a benefit? Help them learn to make the best of new situations. They may eventually view the life change as beneficial to their personal growth and life story.
Reflect back Studies have shown that people who experience new life events—new schools, new relationships, or new jobs—experience some level of anxiety, even if the change was wanted. Reflect with your teen on a time when they faced a significant change and successfully managed it, despite some initial fear. Sometimes unfamiliar events are not as scary as they seem and may simply require a little time to adjust.
Focus on values Remind your teen it’s okay not to have all the answers to every question or to know how every detail will play out. Being clear on their values will help them remember what is important and shield them against whatever negative emotions may arise. Ask them to list their values which will help keep their life-changes in perspective
Be self-compassionate Life often doesn‘t go the way in which we intended. In fact, life can be stressful, and often disappointing. Instead of allowing frustration and self-doubt to take root, encourage your teen to offer themselves compassion. If they are confronted with a painful experience, instead of ignoring their pain or chastising themselves remind them “This is difficult right now, how can you comfort and care for yourself in this moment?” Self-compassionate individuals offer kindness to themselves and others rather than judgment and harsh criticism.
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Teenagers go through a major life transition when graduating high school, and they need their parents to help them get through it. Whether your child is heading off to live on a university campus, staying home to attend a local school, travelling or entering the workforce, there are some exciting times ahead—and some steep challenges, too. 

Parents want to help their adult child through these challenges but not be so involved that their voice is something their child tries to avoid. The following tips can help you relate effectively with your new graduate who is an emerging adult. 
Share expectations. Parents should be clear about what their expectations are (these are going to be different for every family) and then have conversations with their young adult to help them to figure out how they might meet those expectations. 
Listen. How can you still keep the door open for communication? Listen. Your young adult will have successes and difficulties, and they need an ear to bend. If you are willing to listen more than you talk they can often arrive at sound conclusions on their own. 
Cheerlead. New friends, new environment, assignments, tight money—there will be a lot of pressures on your young adult. They want to succeed and they just need someone who believes in them more than they pressure them.

Be a coach. A good coach patiently advises and then lets the team play. A coach doesn‘t try to micromanage the players. Too much coaching can be detrimental—watch for signs that you may be overdoing it.

Balance your communication. Adult kids need the freedom of not having to tell parents everything. On the other hand, it‘s great to be interested and ask good, open-ended questions about things they mention to you.
These are challenging years, but they will also have great rewards. Stand behind your adult child no matter what happens. Whether they‘re facing triumph or discouragement, they need to know their parents are always on their side.
Signs Your Teen May Need Extra Support
As your teen experiences this avalanche of changes there will be trying times for sure. However the following signs may indicate that your child could benefit from extra support:

Changes in mood that are not usual for your child, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family.

Changes in appetite, weight or eating patterns, such as never being hungry or eating all the time.
Changes in behavior, such as stepping back from personal relationships. If your ordinarily outgoing teen shows little interest in texting or connecting with their friends, for example, this might be cause for concern.

A loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed. Did your music-loving child suddenly stop wanting to practice guitar, for example? Did your aspiring chef lose all interest in cooking and baking?

Changes in appearance, such as lack of basic personal hygiene.

Problems with memory, thinking, or concentration.
Less interest in schoolwork and drop in academic effort.

A hard time falling or staying asleep, or starting to sleep all the time.

An increase in risky or reckless behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol.

Thoughts about death or suicide, or talking about it.
A word about suicide risk:
Remember, not everyone who considers suicide will talk about it, and not everyone who talks about suicide will act on their words. However, any talk about suicide should be taken seriously.  Seek help immediately by calling the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888. Reserve 911 for situations where self-harming actions are happening or are about to happen.
May Secondary School Poster
Friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent isolation and loneliness while increasing a sense of belonging and purpose. 

Friends also play a significant role in promoting overall health. Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems. 

As students mature and move on in life, this poster reminds them of importance of maintaining social connection and friendships.

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