Coaching Organized Transitions – Gaining Emotional Stability and Focus

Did you know that by decreasing external clutter you can increase internal focus and organized thoughts?  As you start organizing your physical space, you may notice that it is easier to focus on what is most important for you and your family.

Let’s focus on transitioning your teenager from high school to college.  A recent article in Science News, Smooth Transition: Researchers Helping Freshmen with ADHD Succeed in College pointed out that the transition to college can be especially difficult for teens with ADHD.

In my experience coaching teens in transition to college, I find that having a structured plan and support helps students to focus on the transition and feel emotionally steady during an ever-changing time of life.  Face it – going to college is challenging for all students.  Pile on ADHD, executive dysfunction and/or learning issues and the challenge just got much more difficult.

How can you help your teen plan for college?

  1. Give her space to talk with others about the college experience. Often friends, older siblings or cousins can provide valuable insight.
  2. Schedule time to discuss the plan and offer your support
    1. Review the college forms & information packet. What needs to be done, by whom and by what date?
    2. Suggest a backwards calendar – look at the deadline and work backwards to the day your teen needs to have that task completed (including shipping and delivery time for online orders).
    3. Encourage free time during the transition phase. Remember, this is an emotional time for your teen.  Spending time with friends to say goodbye is as important as packing the suitcases.
    4. Discuss the budget/financial constraints for college prep shopping and for the first semester.  Be clear and direct. Your teen may push back a bit, but in the end, those clear expectations will help.
  3. Be cautious of over-buying for college
    1. I recall having more towels than any other student on my hall and, 30 years later, I still have one or two in my closet.  Back then, I could have purchased a text book or extra meal tickets with that cash.
    2. Do purchase underwear in abundance
    3. Do purchase a small lock-box for cash and medication
    4. Don’t purchase clothing that requires special care
    5. Remember that jeans and sweats can, and will, be worn more than once before washing, so don’t over-buy or over-pack.
    6.  There are stores and a post-office near or on most college campuses for those forgotten items.
  4. Notes for Parents
    1. You are not alone. Talk with other parents who have managed this emotional transition.
    2. Ask for suggestions or just get out of the house and meet friends for coffee.
    3. Taking care of your own emotions will help you best support your rising college student.
    4. Build trust and support.  Your teenager needs to know that you have faith in her ability to go to college and know that you are just a phone call away when needed.
  5. Notes for Teens
    1. Know that your parents love you and need to learn to let go.  When it gets overwhelming, ask for space.
    2. Conversely, build in time to BE with your family before you head to campus.
    3. Talk with your younger siblings, parents and other close relatives. How will you stay in touch?
    4. What might be the best way for them to connect with you?

Supporting yourself and your college bound child for an organized transition with emotional support and focus on the tasks at hand will result in a more enjoyable time before send-off.  Wishing you, and your teen, a blend of smiles, hugs and tears during this pivotal time.

Jodi Sleeper-Triplett
Social Media: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube
Author: Empowering Youth with ADHD