Teens and kids have a tendency to be a little scattered. You may be familiar with overflowing backpacks, messy rooms and cluttered bathrooms – if their physical spaces look like this, it’s likely their mental spaces are similar.
If their school doesn’t provide them with one, get them a planner where they can start logging what they’re supposed to accomplish during the day, as well as any big events they have coming up. This helps get them used to routine and also helps them to keep track of tasks they have to complete. How do you do this? Go to trick #2.
1. Keep things scheduled
As much as they may not like it, a child’s schedule should be very rigorously detailed if they want to keep their studies up and their sports performance level. This means knowing when games and practices are, then scheduling study time around them. It may happen that they have a day packed with studying and sports will little free time, but make sure they understand this is the commitment they made when they signed up to become an athlete. We have found that apps such as the Cozi family calendar (www.cozi.com) are helpful in giving everyone a sense of control. Whether the schedule is on a mobile device or printed and taped to the refrigerator, the schedule will keep everyone informed about the priorities of the day.
2. Use resources such as school-provided tutors when available.
Most schools have extra resources for student-athletes that are struggling – but using these resources, if available, is also an option for student athletes that want to make sure they’re keeping up in school. The best way to avoid falling behind is to stay ahead. It’s also possible to ask teachers if they have advice or extra study materials available to help student athletes keep up with classes.
3. Speak up when things get tough.
Sometimes even with all the help in the world, a teen or child can become overwhelmed with everything they have going on. In that case, silence can be deadly. Unless it is addressed by bringing it out in to the open, prolonged stress can lead to mental damage and breakdowns – even if this seems like something minor to you, a teen that isn’t used to coping can feel majorly beat down by a packed schedule they can’t escape from. A younger child might not even be able to verbalize his or her uneasiness until it’s too late.
If this happens, the student in question has to be willing to talk about their stress. They should be able to come to their parent(s) or guardian(s) about this issue and work on a solution together. Make sure they understand that you are available to them if this ever ends up being the case. Allow them to always understand that being overwhelmed – or having to reconsider commitments – is not a sign of weakness, and not something you will be holding a grudge for.