School starts next Monday! My daughter is 16 and a half. Her cell phone is on her at all times. She keeps it under her pillow when she sleeps at night. While I'm not at all happy with this, I understand many teens do this.
If 'allowed to' she'll hang on the computer, particularly on FaceBook and Tumblr, for hours at a time. She'll stay up to the wee hours of the morning -she does not self regulate at all well. She's always had issues getting to sleep at night, even when she was a toddler.
Keeping up in school is a struggle for her. She starts each year with the best of intentions.
I've been handling the phone and computer issues poorly. When school is such a struggle and she's soooo anxious and stressed out, I have feared that taking the phone and/or computer away from her just takes away a connection, something that makes her happy and relieves stress. I just want to trust her.
So, talk to me about this. (Another thread here got me thinking about this.) I think I should implement a new policy: the cell phone cannot go to bed with her on school nights. Simple, right? I predict she's going object vociferously. Typing this out I feel really sheepish about how afraid I am of upsetting her, of making her feel bad. In my head there's lots of talk about giving her autonomy, trusting her to work things out, wanting to accept and respect that she's quickly becoming an adult. So, at age 16, to have her cell taken away from her at night, that's a step backwards. I don't know that that's true, but it's a thought.
We already have a 'no laptop in the bedroom' policy that regularly gets messed about with. So I'm resolving to be more consistent there.
Back ground picture: she was in the Honors program in English and history, but did so poorly last year (sophomore) she was dropped from it. She's been struggling with math, well, forever. But she had to take a summer school math class last month in order to keep up and not be taking basic algebra her senior year (with freshmen). It's been one tough hit to her esteem after another these past few years.
Wow, again, typing this out ...I haven't had much faith in her ability to deal with setbacks have I?
I said some of this in another post but we struggled with this all of last school year. DD was 13 and entering high school. She'd always been incredibly self-controlled and responsible, even as a toddler. I never looked at her homework... never knew what she was even assigned because she was totally self-sufficient. She started working in professional theatre at 10 and I never had to do anything but drive her. She always made sure to get any missed work at school... just a real pro. We had no rules because she never needed them. Then, freshman year, she sort of went crazy. She started staying up until the wee hours of the morning online and texting (dropping from from 10 hours a night to a max of 7 hours... usually only 5 or 6.) She was exhausted, rebellious, passive aggressive, grades dropping, making poor choices in friendships, becoming depressed and miserable, the works. On top of that, she was a late bloomer on the puberty scale so her hormones were all our of whack. The perfectionist in her was screaming at the lower grades and botched opportunities. However, instead of seeing it as a result of her choices, she was blaming it on outside forces (like me.)
We felt that if we could yank her back to a healthy place, she'd regain the perspective needed to get herself back on track. We put a cap on the electronics. For a few weeks, we had enforced bedtime just to get her body and mind healthy. The sleep alone lifted her spirits and made her more aware and rational. She started eating better. I put the vitamins in the kitchen where she will actually take them as opposed to her room where she wouldn't. She woke up to what was happening in school and turned it around. She found the negative people in her life dissapeared when she wasn't available to listen to them whine 24/7. She opened herself back up to those more capable of a mutual friendship and was rewarded with a truely kindred spirit. She even admitted that getting enough sleep regularly completely alters your perspective on life. This summer, she's been the happiest I've seen her. We lifted the electronics cap for vacation and based on her major drop in activity, I don't think we'll need to enforce it during the school year (but we reserve the right to.)
It's still DD's accomplishment. She turned things around and that is an empowering feeling. All we really did was bring her back to a solid state of health. So, yes, kids do need to be responsible for their own lives but as parents, I think we need to recognize when they need some help. For what it's worth, we're finding a LOT of families having these struggles with older teens when there never were struggles before.
Yes, I think that's one stumbling block to success that we've had: I've wanted to start each school year with an 'innocent until proven guilty' stance. Start by trusting her to self-regulate the electroncis-homework time/freetime-bedtime dynamic, then at progress report time decide whether we need to regulate the electronics more. But her grades are frequently pretty good at that time. Or there's some reasonable explanation as to why a grade is down, and she says she'll handle it. Then when report cards come out she's getting D's (and C's, B's and A's).
She does her homework with the computer open to FaceBook, and insists that it's not a problem that her focus is divided like that. And she's got her cell phone in hand, too. True, she does occasionally communicate with classmates about school work. She doesn't know how divided her focus is.
This has been an issue at least since seventh grade, and she's going into eleventh grade. So this year she has to prove to us first that she can handle the electronics, by getting and keeping her grades up. The cell phone and the computer need to be put away while she's doing homework.
The rest of the family keeps their cell phones out in the kitchen at bed time, she can keep hers out there as well.
Edited to add, dang it, I don't know why I was able to type below the quote above, but I can't type below this quote.
Anyway, your daughter sounds like a gem!
Sleep has always been a big issue with my daughter. She IS depressed and takes an antidepressant. Of course ultimately I want her to find relief from this. So the bolded part really sticks out to me.
We felt that if we could yank her back to a healthy place, she'd regain the perspective needed to get herself back on track. We put a cap on the electronics. For a few weeks, we had enforced bedtime just to get her body and mind healthy. The sleep alone lifted her spirits and made her more aware and rational. She started eating better. I put the vitamins in the kitchen where she will actually take them as opposed to her room where she wouldn't. She woke up to what was happening in school and turned it around. She found the negative people in her life disappeared when she wasn't available to listen to them whine 24/7. She opened herself back up to those more capable of a mutual friendship and was rewarded with a truely kindred spirit. She even admitted that getting enough sleep regularly completely alters your perspective on life. This summer, she's been the happiest I've seen her. We lifted the electronics cap for vacation and based on her major drop in activity, I don't think we'll need to enforce it during the school year (but we reserve the right to.)
Computer usage at our house is in the living room only, and when homework is being done there is no Facebook. I used to be more lax about that, but ds (who is 17) kept having trouble getting homework done because he spent so much time chatting. He blamed it on too much schoolwork, but he sure got better at getting it done with the limits. Computer is off at 9:30, he can stay up to read or whatever after that.
He doesn't have texting and phone calls are not allowed after 9:30, on the home phone or the cell. That's just a house rule.
Don't ya love that? Their ability to justify and delude themselves is amazing.
Texting and computer usage in general are very addictive (I can attest to that). We've always had a rule that phones get plugged in by 11:00 or so; the community recharging area is in an area of our master bedroom. Computers are downstairs only & are turned off when the kids go to bed. I really think your DD needs structure & help even if she fights it at first. It's tough to resist the siren call of a texting signal!
Apart from the other concerns, this is absolutely harmful and dangerous about her health. The mobile phone radiation is not something that sould be underestimated.
A pretty good update,
Anichka, I mentioned to dd that I was concerned about her sleeping with the cell near her head and she explained that she hasn't done that in a while. It was either on the desk, about 4 feet away or at the foot of her bed.
Anyway, she didn't object at all when I said the new policy is that the phone needs to charge out in the kitchen each night. She's ready to make a change.
Dh and I have been struggling for years to discipline ourselves to get to bed earlier, and we've been pretty successful for a month now. And so dd has been getting to be earlier, too. Awesome.
Another really great development to an issue I didn't mention above is that she's much more organized in the morning, is leaving for school early enough to walk AND get there on time. This is huge! I have always driven her to school because she was never, ever ready on time. Always late. But she's doing a good job getting herself out of bed. I'm really impressed. She asked if she can have coffee with us in the a.m. and I said sure, as long as she has breakfast with it. So she actually makes time to eat and have a couple inches of coffee.
She's still on FaceBook, etc, while she's doing homework and I haven't been calling her on it much since I've been focused on helping ds get through his first week in middle school. Ds is getting an after school routine so I can be more attentive with dd this week.
Regardless, this is a much better start to the school year than we've had in a long time.
Thank you, mamas, for talking to me about this.
I totally get this. I have an almost-16 year old boy and have a super tough time with being upset about the possibility of making him upset. DH (his step-father) helped me with this by reminding me occasionally that I am the adult, here (I'm 41)! It can be really hard, though. A new rule or whatever that makes your kid mad or hurts his/her feelings can really screw up the day/evening/weekend, and sometimes I'm honestly not too willing to incur that kind of attitude.
I am glad to read your update! BTW, did you know you can view your child's cell usage online? Times, etc.? I have Verizon and can even pay an extra $5 a month to block out certain times (ie: past bedtime or during school). But then I worry--what if there was a gunman at school or my child was kidnapped and he couldn't use his cell to contact me? Oh, I need more things to worry about, right? Parenting can be so, so hard...