It is that time of year again – it’s Finals time.
Your teenagers are probably very stressed or getting stressed. There is a lot of things going on right now.
Besides Finals there is the Junior Prom and Senior Ball. Many of the teens are stressed about who to ask, will they get asked, what to wear and how much will it cost? Aka then there are the after parties. They worry about which one to go to and there is the issue of drinking that night, using drugs and having sex that night. Parents remember when you were in high school and all the issues associated with the Prom or Ball.
If that was not enough, there are final projects due, research papers and many high schools require community service hours too. In addition to this there is the normal homework and then time to study for finals.
In many classes the final may be worth fifty percent of the students grade. The final grade in a class is very important. This grade will be part of their overall GPA which can affect what colleges they can apply to and their ability to get scholarships. For seniors some colleges have put a condition on their acceptance. The student must get a certain grade in a class or maintain a particular overall GPA.
As you can see there is a great deal of pressure on high school students during this time of year. Also since the competition to get into colleges has increased and the competition for scholarships have increased so has the stress on high school students.
Many students will do what ever they need to in order to survive this time of year. This includes using alcohol or weed to help them relax or sleep. They will also take friends ADHD medication, use cocaine, or start taking caffeine pills or start drinking a great deal of coffee or energy drinks so they can stay awake and study. They don’t realize how much caffeine those energized drinks contain. Also the combination of weed to sleep and caffeine to stay awake can cause mood changes, psychosis and even death.
Most teens want to do things on there on so they will tell you everything is fine and they have it covered. They think it is fine because of the substances they are using. Remember a teenagers prefrontal lobes are not fully developed yet. Therefore, they only focus on the here and now and not on the future.
If your teenager is getting anger very easily or crying easily this is a sign that something is going on. If you notice a change in their eating habits such as going from eating a lot to eating nothing, this is another sign. Also if you notice a change in their sleep pattern such as awake all night and falling asleep at odd times this is also a sign.
What do you do if you notice anything that is making you worry, you sit down and talk to them. Explain you know there is a lot of stress right now and point out the changes you have noticed and what you are concerned about. Reinforce you are not having this conversation because you are mad or they are in trouble, you are having this conversation because you love them. If they are using things or doing things because they think it will help them study, let them know you are there to help. Explain some of the dangers associated with what they are doing. Remind them no grade is worth their life.
Hopefully they will listen to you and confide in you. If they continue to deny everything, then go to any local pharmacy and buy a drug testing kit. Explain you are only doing this for their safety and they are not in trouble. They may be afraid or embarrassed to tell you. They may feel like a failure in your eyes. As their parent they need your love and support right now not a lecture. Again remember when you were in high school and how difficult it was to tell your parents certain things. Good luck.
Dr. Michael Rubino specializes in working with teens and has over 18 years experience and his work is nationally recognized. To find out more about Dr. Michael Rubino visit his website at http://www.rcs-ca.com or his Facebook page at Facebook.com/Drrubino3