How to Help Your Overscheduled Teen Stay Sane

When there simply doesn't seem to be enough time in the day, these expert tips will help keep stress at bay. 

Photo by Jetta Productions/Getty Images

Do Some Math

To combat the wails of “I don’t have enough tiiiime!” try this: Determine the hours in a week (24 x 7 = 168). Subtract hours spent sleeping, at school, and doing activities. “Students begin to 
realize that there are a lot of available hours being sucked up by YouTube and social media,” says Tracey Addington, the director of a college-readiness 
program at the Parish Episcopal School, in Dallas, and a mother of three.

Don’t Offer Solutions

“Students are rarely looking for an answer. They want to be heard and validated,” says Adriana Cornell, a school counselor in Philadelphia and a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA). Also, jumping into action with an onslaught of possible solutions can 
exacerbate stress. “Take a moment and say, ‘That sounds really stressful. What can I do to help?’” says Cornell. “Be an ally, not a challenger.”

Ask What’s Annoying

Really, go ahead. Ask your teenager what you do that is helpful and what you do that is not. Says Cornell, “Allow her to say that when you nag about a test every day leading up to it, she gets stressed to the point of rebellion, then deliberately doesn’t study just to feel in control.”

Make a List

Have your child write down all of her assignments, then ask if she wants your help prioritizing. “If all of the tasks 
hold equal importance, encourage her 
to start with one or two that she can 
finish fairly quickly,” says Cornell. “Crossing off tasks will allow her to feel more productive and motivated as she tackles others.”