A parent is jailed every two weeks. Every school term a parent is jailed for their child’s truancy once a fortnight every school term in England and Wales! What a shocking statistic.
But what can you do as a parent?
• Be actively involved in your teen’s life – talk, chat, guide, nudge, nurture, share, laugh and engage. Teenagers need your love, guidance and support at this time of change even more. So don’t abandon them to their own devices but don’t moan, nag, whine, and constantly judge them that won’t help. So look for positive ways to have fun together and keep the lines of communication open.
• Be involved and supportive of their school life – read some homework, help if you can by Googling articles to help them with their coursework if they get overwhelmed sometimes, listen without interrupting when they let off steam and moan about teachers and school friends, listen to their worries and fears and ask for help for them if they are struggling to keep up or understand at school. Falling behind just builds up and is hard to rectify if it goes too far. So be on the look out for ways to help and support but not take over if they are finding things difficult.
• Look at the bigger picture – what do they want to be – a plumber, hairdresser, photographer, lawyer, own their own business? Then they have a dream with a date and you can help them break it down into bite sized steps of how they can go about becoming that. That will help them see the value of the GCSE’s they need to choose, the course they need to take or the path that can open up to them if they think ahead.
• Help them to really visualise that goal ….. get them to see themselves doing that job ….. in full colour…… hear the great positive sounds inside their own head and the great things others say to them once they have achieved their goal, get them to imagine how proud they will feel once they have worked towards something and achieved it and they sense of true fulfilment and self esteem – notice how they will stand and walk and talk when they feel so good about themselves in this picture and get them to bring the picture right up close and to step into it … like Mary Poppins and Bert jumping into the picture in the film “Mary Poppins” as it fully gets them fully associated with this compelling future .
• Talk to them about your hopes and expectations for them. Hold that vision high and believe in them, Hold the biggest vision possible for them and then you can tell them to borrow that belief you hold of them while they are building their own self belief
• Talk to them about the consequences of truanting from school for thjem and for you.
• Set up an ACTION PLAN with small bite –sized expectations, limits, rewards and consequences. There’s no naughty step for teens or stickers but don’t just resort to money to motivate them. They will just learn to always have their hand open in life …… which is not how it works! You don’t always get something for nothing….. teach them this is their future you are all investing in.
• Talk to their teachers – get support and engagement and focus on solutions not problems
• Work on your child’s self esteem all the time
• Find out if the truancy is drug related so you can help your teen get the professional help they need
• If they have been playing truant talk about ways back in that help nurture their self respect, self esteem and “credibility” teenagers are so self conscious so help them back into the routine and disciple of going to school positively and with grace and humour.
I wrote my “Living The Dream” audio CD and workbook to help empower young people with the strategies, techniques and skills they need to create the sort of life that fulfils and excites them.