Has your child recently finished rehab or drug counseling? Are you struggling to find the balance between back-to-school stress and recovery? You’re not alone; this is a hard part of the year for us at Clearfork Academy because we see so many families tackling this problem. If you’re concerned school may get in the way of your child’s recovery, let us walk you through what you can expect and how to help your family adjust to a new normal.
1. How long after treatment can my teen go back to school?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Should you wait three weeks? One day? The best time frame is not a hard-and-fast rule, because each situation is unique. This is a difficult transition and can potentially be triggering for your child. Pay attention to their habits as they leave treatment–are they making friends with other kids in recovery? Do they take an active role in their recovery process or wait for you to prompt them?
There is a party culture and peer pressure in schools, so make sure your child has the tools to succeed before sending them back in. Have conversations about your child’s triggers and what coping strategies they can use in a social setting.
2. What should we talk about before my teen goes back to school?
It’s easy to make a laundry list of topics to discuss before sending your teen back to school, but some of the most important conversations can get lost in the mix that way. Focus your efforts on a few key areas: boundaries, triggers, and people.
– Boundaries & Triggers
Setting healthy boundaries is a critical step in long-lasting recovery–remember: it’s a life-long commitment. What are the positive boundaries we can set to help avoid negative triggers? If your teen used to stop by a popular smoking spot before or after school, don’t just give them a vague lesson in avoidance. Replace things they should avoid with a positive alternative. Instead of going for a smoke with their friends after school, maybe they can stop for a snack on the way home or get involved in an activity like sports, drama, or community outreach to fill in the gaps. Sit down and make a plan on what their before and after school will look like. It’s also important to note these should involve positive things that your teen enjoys. If they don’t like the plan, it can feel like a consequence and has a higher-potential to fail.
Have good places, good substitutions, and good habits ready for your child to pull from for any situation that could be triggering.
Peer pressure is one of the big concerns for parents when sending their teen back to school during recovery; however, not all peer pressure comes from wild parties or bad influences. Role models and icons come in all shapes and sizes–musicians, celebrities, and even people your teen knows in real life. Don’t tear down important figures, but it’s okay to stress that everyone can make good and bad decisions. Your tten may love a rock band’s music, but that doesn’t mean they have to play guitar and do cocaine, right?
It’s not just peer pressure to partake in drugs that needs to be on the radar–even old friends and teachers could be a potential point of failure. Good friends don’t always have bad intentions–they could be trying to have fun, or loosen up and not understand potentially triggering situations for your teen. Have the conversation NOW with your child and help them set their boundaries. Roleplay some ways they can discuss them with their friends and peers or how to get out of a triggering situation.
Teachers can be pillars of support or cracks in your child’s armor. Identify the positive adults at school with your teen and find out ways they can spend more time with that teacher. If there is an authority figure your teen butts heads with, strategize how to diffuse conflict and maybe even how to avoid that adult as much as possible.
There is no answer that will fit every family, but having some deep conversations can really make all the difference in your child’s success as they return to school. Recovery is an ongoing process and it’s important to identify positive support and potential weaknesses to help stay on track.
If your teen is struggling with substance abuse or mental health, please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at clearforkacademy.com. Our team of specialists is standing by to help your family with your unique situation or just to talk and help you answer some questions.
As we gear up to go back to school, we all start planning for the physical aspects, right? School supplies and new clothes are purchased, the fridge is stocked up with after-school snacks, and appointments for haircuts and dentist check-ups were a success. Heck, we just had Tax-Free Weekend because even the government knows that this is a big time of year for parents!
The physical needs are a little more obvious, a little more intuitive, but I encourage you to take a moment this year to think about your kiddo’s mental needs as well. They’re walking back into school and back into peer pressure.
Peer pressure can be positive or negative, but in either case, your teen has the right to decide what their non-negotiables are this year. The best way to make sure your teen is equipped to handle peer pressure is to make sure they know about their own voice. It might be cliche, but communication really is key.
There are three forms of communication that your teen should be empowered to use before they walk back into that school building this year: peer, parent/teacher, and self.
The emotional quotient, or EQ, is all about how we feel. How does peer pressure make your child feel? How does talking to authority figures make them feel? Plan ahead with your child’s EQ in mind now and practice communication tactics—it can make all the difference.
1. Peer Communication
Peer pressure is inevitable, and again, there is a good and bad side to it. Pressure on how to look, on who to hang out with, and on how to act. School is one giant social cue waiting to happen, and that is a lot to handle during puberty!
Empower your child to set healthy boundaries of their own and to set up non-negotiables to guide them under this pressure. If someone encourages them to act or communicate in a way that compromises their boundaries, it’s okay to communicate how that makes them feel.
Practice makes perfect! Give your child some key phrases to say in the heat of the moment so they can avoid unnecessary confrontation. “Hey, that made me feel __. Please stop.”
2. Parent/Teacher Communication
The adults in a teen’s life are here to be resources, but we can get lost under the tidal wave of pressure these kiddos face. Emphasize that communication with a trusted adult is not tattle-taling or snitching; it’s upholding the boundaries your child sets for themselves.
And this doesn’t always have to be a ‘get so-and-so in trouble’ situation: sometimes it’s good to vent to an adult just to get things off their chest—no strings attached. Tell your child that the little voice inside of them is very smart, and it knows when something doesn’t feel right.
This is another great opportunity to practice together. Communicating with parents/teachers should be done calmly and with respect whenever possible to achieve the best, most direct results.
It may seem obvious to some of us adults, but clear and honest self-communication is so important. It’s that little voice again, the one that tells us how we feel and advises us how to act. Sometimes communication with ourselves is positive, but it can be negative too.
Talk about positive self-talk with your kiddos and empower them to be their own cheerleaders. Okay, maybe with a less cheesy spin: encourage them to be their own advocates. It’s healthy to give yourself a pat on the back and to second-guess yourself. It’s part of being human.
Self-communication happens a lot internally, but it can also be expressed externally! Writing in a journal, creating private audio diaries, and even drawing are all great ways for your teen to talk to themself and work out the issues they face.
A lot of pressure and anxiety come with going back to school—for kids and parents. So, have a plan, have boundaries, and communicate. For additional resources or if your child struggles with substance abuse/mental health, Clearfork Academy is here to help. Our clinical admissions specialists are available 24/7 to help with your unique situation. Please call us at 888-966-8604, email us at email@example.com, or visit our website atwww.ClearforkAcademy.com.
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