Many people look forward to a change in seasons. So much is happening. We experience the change in weather, hours of daylight, and vegetation. But the transition is not always an easy one. Changes in seasons often bring major changes—the beginning or end of a school year, for example.
For students and parents alike, the new school year can bring on both excitement and stress. Children and adolescents face new challenges, but they also face academic and social pressures. For adults, the new school year could mean trying to negotiate accommodations for a son’s or daughter’s unique needs, or it could be trying to balance work, career, and a family. Many will be sending their son or daughter off to school far away from home.
Now that the school forms have been filled out and the pencils have all been sharpened, it might be time to think about revisiting your WRAP or creating a new one. This fall, our website and newsletter will look at some tools and tips for how WRAP can help parents and families, children and adolescents, and adult students. This week, we’ll look at the always challenging middle and high school years.
Did you know that there is a WRAP resource just for youth, and that it can help teens navigate the pressures that they might be feeling? Youth WRAP is written in language that speaks to teens and young adults. In discussing how to build an effective WRAP, this book suggests triggers that resonate with middle and high schoolers, like being left out of social events, unfair teachers, and sibling conflicts.
Getting a teenager interested in doing extra work can be challenging, but those who have put in the effort to develop a WRAP have been pleasantly surprised with the results. One young woman, Lala, wrote: “Before WRAP, I never took this journey to discover who I am, what I like, what I need, and what I am capable of. This discovery improved the relationships with friends and family, and my overall life. It gave me a voice to advocate for myself and helped me realize that my needs are just as important as anyone else’s and I should not be afraid to speak up on what I want.”
Take a gentle, positive approach with your teen. If you make writing a WRAP a chore like loading the dishwasher, you’re less likely to get results. Perhaps build in an incentive, for example: “I know you’re feeling stressed out, and I (we) think this might be helpful. It lets you identify what’s bothering you and what makes you feel better. If you want to try it, maybe I (we) can help you get some of the things that reduce stress, or help you do those activities.” Or perhaps the best incentive of all: “You can share this with me (us), and we promise to work on the things that I (we) do to add to your stress.”
We’d love to hear from parents of teen (or teens themselves) about what goes in their WRAP. Let us know on our Facebook page if you have any helpful suggestions!
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.