Navigating Classroom Dramaby Clinicians at Ganey Counseling on 09/10/15
Navigating Classroom Drama
Only a few days into the new school year and I’m already hearing about the back to school drama. I don’t have kids myself but I’m hearing about it from friends and family members. Although we can often make light of the “drama” that goes on in the middle school and high school years it is sometimes enough to make you want to rip your hair out.
As a teenager, going through the drama first hand, it may feel impossible to figure out what to do or say. You are most likely experiencing anxiety as well as some anger or sadness at what may be going on at school. Perhaps dread rises up in you each morning as wake up for school; thoughts about the situation keep swirling around in your mind and it is hard to find peace.
As a parent, hearing about the drama at school can leave you feeling dumbfounded, angry, or helpless. Sometimes you may have no idea how to support your child. Other times you may have wisdom or encouragement to offer your child but your loving, and perhaps desperate, efforts are met with the response, “You don’t understand!”
Just as we reviewed in last week’s blog, the middle school and high school years revolve around the “need” to be accepted by peers. This desire for acceptance, coupled with constant changes in social spheres (friends, dating, who is in their lunch) is the perfect breeding ground for insecurity and… drama. Teens go to school each day trying to ride out the ever-changing social waves and sometimes they’re left feeling like their drowning in the wake.
How to Support Your Teen:
Validate their experience.
This was mentioned in the previous blog but it is so important it’s worth repeating. When your teenager is having a bad day they want someone to listen. They may also be looking for guidance in how to deal with what’s going on but their ears won’t be open to listening until they’re sure that you're listening attentively first.
· What did you hear them say? So you’re telling me that….? Wow, no wonder you had a rough day.
· What do you imagine they’re feeling? That would probably feel really embarrassing…
Ask Thought Provoking Questions.
Teens are often struggling to declare their independence. They still need you but they don’t always want you to the extent that they did when they were younger. Sometimes, as the parent, you need to step in and address a situation with a teacher or principal but often times these moments of “drama” can be solved by your teen with the proper direction. Instead of telling your child what they should do, ask them questions to assist them in sorting through the problem and potential solutions. Through thoughtful questions you can help your teen more effectively develop their moral character, forgiveness, and healthy boundaries.
Is your teen staying in their room more often and talking less about what is going on at school? Are they sad or angry and losing interest in their hobbies? Perhaps they’re not withdrawn so much as they are coming home with more and more “drama” each day. Are you beginning to wonder if it is your child’s own unhealthy patterns that are creating some of the unrest at school? The turmoil teens go through at school sometimes passes quickly but other times it tends to create a crisis that lasts for sometime. If you are beginning to worry about your child don't delay in seeking help from the school counselor or a professional counselor. We are here to help you navigate through these difficult times.
Submitted by: Sarah Loew, MS