A Well-Lit Path: A Blog from Westtown School

Tips on Managing The Teen Mood Swing

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on November 1, 2017

When your teenager is grumpy, monosyllabic and irritable, do you find yourself taking it personally, and then, perhaps, even confronting them about it only to find it may have made things worse? Please keep in mind that their grouchiness almost always has nothing to do with you. The answer is to not engage, yet our temptation is to over engage! Here are some tips for staying out of our teenager’s moods and allowing them to get on with the important business of adolescent development:

  • Teenagers are often grumpy simply due to the incredible chemical mix of hormones careening through their bloodstream, not to mention rapid changes to their brain composition. They really can’t help it! Just keeping this in mind can stave off the temptation to take it personally.
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Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, How to manage the mood swings, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Summer To Do: College Prep

Posted by Jessica Smith on May 1, 2017

Yes, summer is a time for students to relax, enjoy, and rejuvenate but also an important time for your teen to stay on track with their college prep. Wondering how to do this and where to focus your energy?  Here are a few simple reminders for you and your teen.

  • Grades count. Please don't believe the myth that grades don't matter until junior year. Colleges will look at applicants’ grades from freshman year onward, and the stronger the grades, the more choices your child will have. It's not just about having a good grade and looking good to colleges. Students need the skills they learn on the way to achieving those grades in order to do well in future courses. At the same time, remember that their best may change as they progress through high school. We are all hoping for authentic effort, not perfection.
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Topics: Building Self-Esteem in Teens, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

6 Painless Ways to Stop Controlling Your Teen

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on January 24, 2017

Some parents find it downright liberating when their teenagers become increasingly
independent. Others find it unsettling, even threatening. Parents who crave control of their teenager often discover that allowing their teens to experience the world on their own is terrifying. However, developmentally, it is important to slowly hand over control of your teen’s life…to your teen.
You will always be their parent, but they are looking for - and needing -you to manage less of their day-to-day lives.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Teenagers: Who Are They?

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on November 1, 2016

There are many advantages to getting older, and I am actually a big fan of this, my fifth, decade because I can boldly say, “In over 30 years of working with teenagers...” and feel like I finally have the expertise to express opinions without any official statistics. So, here goes: In my 30 years of working with teenagers, I have found they often feel annoyed by their parents’ insistence that they “know them.” There are two themes that run through this resentment. The first is how counter this feels to the adolescent need for privacy and separation from their parents. The second is how rapidly teenagers change their minds, their interests, their direction, their values, their persona, and even their personality.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children

Teenagers: They are Hardier Than We Think

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on February 23, 2016

Our teenagers are hardier than we give them credit for. Hardiness, resilience, grit, and tenacity are qualities we know our teenagers need to possess in order to succeed in a competitive world. But often we act in ways that interrupt the growth of these vital characteristics. When we overreact to the curveballs thrown in everyday life, or over invest in the belief that all things should be fair and just, we are short changing our teenagers from learning the tougher lessons necessary to survive and thrive in a demanding society. Protecting our teenagers from realities, consequences, hurt, and injustices may feel instinctive, but is actually counter to building strong character. The problem is we feel their pain in a profound and overwhelming way, so not only are we trying to protect our teenagers, but we also try mightily to protect ourselves from a whole host of co-dependent feelings. The trick is to focus on our own reactions to their discomfort, let go, and have faith that they will handle their uncomfortable feelings on their own. Here are some tips on doing just that:

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Inspiring the Best in Kids

Passport to Self-Discovery

Posted by Ellen Songle on February 4, 2016

We have touched on the importance of travel for
the young in previous posts. If you have been lucky enough to enjoy travel in your life, then you, too, might have experienced some of the benefits that come from leaving your comfort zone. This departure from the safety of what is “known” stimulates intellectual curiosity, brings knowledge, and allows for personal growth. Lili, a member of the class of 2015 at Westtown School, enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of Westtown en Cuba, a service and language immersion program for students, and has shared some knowledge she gained from the experience. Read on for an excerpt from her reflections on her trip to Cuba. 

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

Raising Global Citizens: The Teenage Years

Posted by Monica Ruiz-Melendez on December 4, 2015

This is the final article in a three-part series about raising global citizens, started last spring for this blog.

Now that you have fostered curiosity and exploration during the early childhood years and focused on supporting your tween in figuring out self-identity in relation to others, you’re ready to help your teenager become a world citizen. By the time they reach adolescence, young people have a pretty solid understanding of the things that set them apart as individuals and how they fit into the larger community beyond your family unit. They also have clear ideas of their passions and inclinations, while continuing to discover the wonders and challenges of the world around them.These are the years in which travel outside the family unit becomes most attractive - and sometimes indispensable -  to the formation of personal ideologies regarding self-identity in relation to global citizenship.

So, how can you support  your child’s desire to discover and engage with new communities and cultures beyond their own? How can you ensure these experiences go beyond mere tourist interactions and offer deep and transformative opportunities for your teenager?  Here are a few suggestions:

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Topics: Help with learning, Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Inspiring the Best in Kids

The College Storm: How Parents Can Help

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on October 14, 2015

No question, our children are precious and we want the best for them. Grades, athletics, community service, and test scores are all important, especially when considering college admission. Important but urgent? Life-or-death? Make or break? No way.

I am the Dean of Students at a competitive independent school where college is most definitely the end point of high school, and not just any college, but a “good” college according to the new experts, Mr. Forbes and Ms. US News and World Report.  I am here to suggest that we, as parents,  need to step back, take a few cleansing breaths, and relax. Anyone who has weathered a real crisis, the kind where you lose your job and have no money in the bank, or the sort that rubs up against near death, or even worse, death, and suddenly worrying about about an SAT score, or an 82 versus a 92, seems like a luxury of the mink coat variety. 

Here are four reasons to encourage the use of perspective when considering your teenager’s high school experience:

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens, Communication and Children

Parenting: It's a Brand New Chapter for the Teen Years

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on September 16, 2015

Being needed, wanted, and adored is the parenting trifecta that gets us through the sleepless nights, the relentless demands, and the bodily functions of early childhood.  The helpless dependence, passionate attachment, and jubilant ardor offset the challenges associated with parenting youngsters. Moreover, we are in control. If our child isn't complying, we usually can "make them." This sense of control, coupled with those wonderful feelings, define what parenting is typically about before the tween and teen years. 

Even though we all know adolescence is inevitable, we often remain under the delusion that somehow our wonderful parenting or our child's easy-going disposition will prevent the door slamming, sullen silences, reckless button pushing, poor decision making, and disrespectful dialogue typical of the teenage years. We hope that through studied intervention we will remain in control throughout our child’s at-home years.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens

Teens Don't Think Like their Parents, and Parents Don't Think Like their Teens

Posted by Linda Rosenberg McGuire on May 27, 2015

As parents, we are often frustrated that our teenagers do not get it. The it in this case is usually some version of adult responsibility or point of view. I am often struck by just how disparate the teenager and adult worlds are, yet, we grown-ups forget what it feels like to be a teen, and at the same time, expect teens to know what it feels like to be an adult, even though they haven’t experienced adulthood yet. Additionally, what drives, motivates, and worries adults is different than what drives, motivates and worries teenagers.

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Topics: Raising Resilient, Healthy Teens