2012 September 26

When a teenager dislikes or feels alienated at a new school it can be a turbulent time for the entire family. Structured systems can help to support a fragile ego through such transitions.

Reward mechanisms – allow a child to earn fractions of a reward each time they complete an entire week of school or college. Make the reward obvious and substantial: if they are ‘earning’ guitar lessons, a new hoody or computer accessories, make life-sized cardboard ‘fractions’ (divide a hoody into arms, body and hood or a guitar into neck, body, amp etc) and pin those fractions up in the teen’s bedroom as they are earned. Then have a bonfire of the fractions when they have obtained the reward so that they can burn the cardboard reward system, have some fun with friends making toasted marshmallows and generally get a sense of the value of doing tough things.

Self-esteem issues – this use to be discussed entirely in relation to girls, but it’s become increasingly clear that boys as well as girls can be crippled by fears of self-worth and have distorted self-appraisal. Simple structures can help: boys may benefit from having some one-to-one coaching in a sport they aren’t good at, while girls often find confidence from trying out some new activities outside of school so that they can develop esteem away from their peer group. Buying new sportswear or activity clothing can help create a positive self image that bolsters the ability to take this new confidence back into school or college.

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