5 Ways to Have an Intentional Start to the New School Year

It’s that time of year again. You’re on your last leg of summer and the groaning and moaning of going back to school in a few weeks has begun. In order to have an intentional transition back into school mode and avoid aimlessly going through the motions in the first couple of months, get out a pencil and clean sheet of paper and take some time to put thought into answering the following questions/exercises:

  1.   Set 5 goals for the upcoming year: 2 academic, 2 extra curricular, 1 social.
  2.  Write down your biggest area of growth last school year and how you can best apply  those new skills to this upcoming year.
  3.  Fast forward in your mind to the end of May 2017 and write down what you believe would  have to be true in order for you to feel that you grew as a student and as a person over the  past year?
  4.  Write down what you anticipate to be you biggest challenge this year and write down  some ideas of how you will overcome that challenge.
  5.  To enhance optimism and gratitude, write down 5 things you are really looking forward to  that “could go right” this year.

The Best Ways To Fight Constructively With A Teenager: Three Conflict Dissolving Tips

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.23.51 PM.png

A recent study and article recently published in the New York Times says teenagers who use problem solving skills to address disputes with their parents tend to enjoy the "sturdiest psychological health and the happiest relationships everywhere they go."

1. See and treat conflict as an opening, not an obstacle. Use questions instead of statements to give teenagers a voice and a chance to productively express themselves.

Constructive conflict between parents and teenagers depends on the child’s ability to see beyond his or her own perspective. “Good fights” happen when teenagers consider arguments from both sides and “bad fights” happen when they don’t.

Parental teenage conflict comes with heat and we can only contemplate another person’s viewpoint when heads are cool. 

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 2.24.01 PM.png

2. Let the argument settle before trying to turn it into a life lesson. This gives the teenager a chance to reason outside of the emotional high and come back to determine a mutual solution with a level head. This calm revisiting technique creates a safer and more honest discussion while bringing the situation to complete resolution instead of an emotional one.

The intellectual ability to consider multiple outlooks surfaces in the teenage years. While younger children lack the neurological capacity to fully understand someone else’s point of view, adolescence sparks rapid development in the parts of the brain associated with abstract reasoning. 

3. For the first time in their lives, teenagers are learning how to shift perspective so parents must be strong models. Adults who are willing to walk around in their teenagers’ mental shoes tend to raise teenagers who return the favor. Parents who have and create empathy for their children yield better and happier results when dissolving conflict in the home.

Click here to read the original article.




teen headphones and mom.png


 What happened to the days when your teen voluntarily spent time with you? Has he/she now become more reclusive? Does he/she retreat to his/her room more frequently?

Consider empowering your teen with an opportunity to make a plan and a voice by saying, “We have committed to doing things as a family and want you to be part of the experience. What do you suggest we do together as a family that would be more interesting to you and fun for everyone?”



 How was your day? “Good.” What are you planning on doing with your friends this weekend? “Nothin’.” In order to get more out of your teen and his/her friends, you could try asking more specific, yet open-ended questions. For instance, “What was the best part of your day today?” “What was the funniest thing that happened at school today?” “How do you and your friends plan to have fun this weekend?”



 You know that response means “It’s not a priority to me and I might do it later if I feel like it.” It leads to nagging a few times to “Do it now” and then the result is usually two upset people in the house (you and your teen) and either an argument or rude, often passive-aggressive behavior full of resentment unfolds. Rather than nagging, one option might be to ask “On a scale of 1-10, how much have you helped out the family this week? On a scale of 1-10, how much have I provided for the family this week?”



It’s as if the tough things your teen is dealing with are so drastically different than the dinosaur years when you grew up. When you give unsolicited advice to them, it shuts them off. When you ask questions simply to seek gaining clarity of exactly that they are going through, it seems to open them up more. One option might be to say, “I know your world is way different than the world I grew up in and you’re right, I don’t know exactly what you’re going through because I’m not you. Can you try and give me a glimpse of what you’re going through, just so that I can have a clearer understanding?” Or “I imagine this feels so tough right now. I know you can get through it because you have a strong core. What is frustrating you right now?” 



 Believe it or not, they are usually still listening to what you are saying even when eye rolling. Instead of saying “Don’t roll your eyes at me!” one option might be to ask, “How could I have said (or asked) that in a way that would have been less annoying to you?” Or “What do you think was my purpose behind saying (or asking) that?”