Every day, we discover new things and learn from new experiences. Life with teens can sometimes be like exploring a whole new world every day. One of our biggest challenges is trying to keep the lines of communication as open as possible. Times are changing, and so is the way that our children communicate. Figuring out what our children need to be successful sometimes means that we have to go back to school.
In our home, there are two busy parents and two completely different teens. One has an autism spectrum disorder with ADD, and the other has ADHD. (It happens, and I know we aren't the only ones.) Our communication with each other can be tough, but we try to do our best. Some days the kids have a lot to say and other days there is complete silence.
Our evening check-in looks a bit like this ... "How was your day?" The usual answer is "fine." So, we follow up with other prodding questions to try and see what is going on in the teen world. Some days we are successful and other days we are not. Lately, I have noticed that the daily responses are fewer and contain less information. The conversations are pretty short and usually end in "you just don't understand" or "life is different now." While that doesn't tell me much, I can hear their frustration and know we have problems with our communication.
I could see there were things I could not address. My son was distant, frustrated with school and depressed. Academics were beginning to suffer, anxiety was high and our communication was shutting down. So I decided to go to school and visit my son's counselor to talk about our concerns.
The counselor told me about a program called Communities in Schools. In our area, Communities in Schools (CIS) partners with our local school district and provides support to address the unique issues of students in need. CIS offers in school counseling sessions, homework assistance and student check-ins to encourage positive communication. While each location is different and services may vary, the goals for success are the same. CIS also provides educational tutoring, mentoring of students, recreational activities, social opportunities, and leadership development. Some CIS programs provide family literacy services and care coordination. They assist families by setting up community supports that provide individual and family counseling. CIS encourages parental involvement in the student's educational experience.
By taking advantage of the services and assistance that Communities in Schools provides, we have been able to get set up with mentors who help provide social skills development, educational supports and tutoring, and individual and family counseling. If you and your family need this kind of support, be sure to ask if Communities in Schools is available in your school district. Don’t forget to take a look at our page on Teenagers for other helpful information.