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6 Ways to Help Your Teen Create Good Habits Before College

6 Ways to Help Your Teen Create Good Habits Before College

            Like most parents, you may worry what bad habits your teen will pick up when they’re in college. Sleeping in through classes, forgetting to brush their teeth at least twice a day, eating junk food, choosing parties over studying … and every other anxiety-inducing bad habit moms can imagine.

            But there are ways you can help your teen create good habits now in hopes that they’ll stick when they’re far from home. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Determine which good habits they need to build. Are they chronically fatigued from staying up too late? Unhealthy from eating junk food and not exercising? Before you can determine what the two of you will be working on, you need to be honest about current bad habits or room for improvement.
  2. Pair up. It’s always easier to stay motivated and focused on your goal with a buddy. Ideally, you’ll want to create the same good habit (e.g., walking 30 minutes a day) as your teen, but even if you don’t have the same specific goal, you can support each other. If you’re trying to quit smoking by replacing cigarettes with sugarless gum and your teen is trying to give up soda by replacing it with seltzer and juice, you can remind each other when supplies are getting low or find something to do together when cravings hit.
  3. Figure out ways to make the good habit stick. If the two of you are trying to eat healthy, you’ve got to rid the house of tempting junk food. If you’re making an effort to go to the gym every morning, put your workout clothes next to your beds the night before. Is she attempting to give up TV? Take the batteries out of the remote and put them in the farthest room in the house. Make sure she has a big stack of great books on hand (or digital versions on her tablet). He’s not getting enough sleep? Encourage him to complete his homework early and then create a stress-free nighttime routine that discourages electronics the last hour before bed.
  4. Make a pros and cons list. Write down the pain and consequences of NOT keeping your good habit (e.g., diabetes, easily tired, can’t fit into nice clothes) and the benefits of following through (e.g., being able to dance or hike without getting winded, feeling confident, more energy).
  5. Create benchmark rewards. If your teen is trying to get up without you waking him up each day, keep a chart and give him motivation. A small gift card, use of the car or a later curfew may be enough to keep his hand off the snooze button.
  6. Prepare them for success. Some of the most vital skills your teen will need in college are time management, organization, and self-control. Enrolling them in LearningRx one-on-one cognitive skills training while they’re still in high school may help them strengthen the underlying the brain skills needed to master these traits. Cognitive skills like memory, processing speed, attention, logic & reasoning, and auditory and visual processing can be strengthened to make learning ANY subject easier and faster, and building executive function in high school can provide a major benefit once they’re living independently for the first time and trying to avoid impulsive decisions and risky behaviors.

Help your teens develop the skills they need to succeed at college before they’re on their own. They’ll feel more confident, be more likely to excel academically, and will have a solid foundation to be a healthy, happy, and responsible adult.