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Back to School Detox for Teens

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By Quinton Ellis, LPC

It’s already begun for many of Edmond’s teenagers. The impatience. The terrible, burning desire to get back into a classroom. To know what it feels like to learn again. If you are a parent of one of these young people I can only assure you that top scientists are hard at work trying to figure out what’s wrong with your kid.

For the rest of you, the approach of this new school year means you’ve got problems. Summer has always been a dumb idea. Mainly because it’s super-hot outside, but also because it screws up young people. We spend an academic year conditioning students to show up, behave, give effort, and if these three goals are achieved, even minimally, our kids will learn even if they are actively avoiding knowledge. Then it starts to get super-hot outside and we say, “Alright kids, go spend two and a half months furiously uninstalling all this mental software. Don’t forget sunscreen!”

Here are some tips for helping your child detox from summer. First, you want to start getting your kid’s sleep schedule back on track. Start by waking them up at an earlier hour than they are used to. Something reasonable, like 1pm. They will not appreciate this, but it will interfere with their ability to play the X-box until 6am the following morning. You will also want to slowly wean your teen off energy drinks. Begin by forbidding the use of straws. By itself, this will slow the rate of intake, but the extra effort involved with straw-less drinking equals a further reduction in consumption. (Does anyone else share my alarm at the ‘energy crisis’ afflicting teens?)

Another good idea for Operation: Normal Human Bedtime would be to install some type of signal scrambler in the house that disables the data package on your kid’s cellphone. Flip the thing on at midnight and claim ignorance. Then, for fun, suggest that they use the phone feature of their phone to actually call and speak with their friends. Use your phone to record the reaction you’ll get.

As a parent, you should prepare yourself for the consternation that will accompany the rapid, debilitating, resurgence of your child’s ADHD in the first weeks of school after a summer of concerned astonishment at their laser-like focus on Instagram and Call of Duty. (Maybe it’s the heat that keeps this terrible disorder at bay.)

You should ask your child if they plan to struggle with organization again this year. Don’t even listen to the answer- Of Course they do. To combat this, I highly recommend that you go pick up a single decent-sized binder. In this binder you should install a pocket divider for each class. Paper goes in the back, to be replenished weekly if needed. It should be impossible to lose any schoolwork at all with this binder. You’d have to deliberately try to lose assignments with a binder like that. This is what you’ll point out to your child when you find out he or she’s behind on day four of the school year. 

You will also want to reacquaint your child with standard hygiene practices. School will limit your child’s opportunities to “bathe” in the deep end. 

Maybe things will go more smoothly than I’m suggesting. Hey, it hasn’t even been all that hot this summer. 


Please join your community mental health agency in our 40th year!  Make a donation and follow our blog: www.edmondfamily.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure your teen has downloaded the BeEdmond app for iphone and android.  Stay connected. Stay safe.

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