Back to School Tips for Teens and Tweens


Back-to-school season is an exciting time for children and teens. As teens prepare to take harder classes and return to sports, here are some tips to make the back-to-school transition as easy as possible.


Teen Driving

The leading cause of death in teens is by car accidents. Fortunately, most of these accidents can be prevented. The list of guidelines below can help lower the chance of accidents behind the wheel.


  • No cellphones– using cellphones while driving is the leading cause of accidents with teen drivers. Texting and driving should never occur, and in many states is illegal. Teens should also know that even touching their phone while driving can put them at an increased risk.  Encourage safe driving by having strict guidelines regarding cell phone use and being a good role model by not using your phone behind the wheel.


  • Seatbelts– Using a seatbelt is the best way to increase your chance of surviving a motor vehicle crash. Seatbelts should be worn by all passengers, at all times, with no exceptions.


  • Distracted driving– First-time drivers can be easily distracted by using cellphones, eating while driving, listening to loud music and having friends in the car. Teens should not have passengers present in the car for the first 6 months after getting a license. They should also have volume limits for the radio and eat before getting behind the wheel.


Stress/Mental Health

While back to school time creates excitement for most students, the thought of advanced classes and standardized tests can create excess stress for teens. Try these tips to manage your teen’s stress levels.


  • Extracurricular Activities– Make sure your child has a reasonable schedule outside of school. Dance, sports, music and other activities tend to require a bigger time commitment as kids get older. Sticking to a few after school activities will ensure that your child does not add to his/her stress level.


  • Asking for help– middle school and high school can be tough. Teaching your child that it is normal to feel overwhelmed will make him/her more comfortable in asking for help.


  • Know when stress is serious– while certain levels of stress in children and teens is normal, some behaviors could indicate that your child might need help. If you notice that your child is not sleeping enough, is having anxiety or depression or is harming themselves, contact a counselor or mental health practitioner immediately.


Healthy Lunches

Your child may be packing a lunch or eating in the school cafeteria. Either way, they have more freedom to decide what they want to eat. Encourage them to make healthy decisions by:


  • Preparing healthy dinners with leftovers for school lunches– packing leftovers from favorite, nutritious dinners will allow them to eat a healthy lunch instead of grabbing something quick and unhealthy.


  • Having healthy groceries on hand– stock the fridge with fruits and vegetables instead of sugary snacks to give your child something wholesome to eat. Take grocery shopping requests from your child for healthy snack options.


  • Review the menu with your child– if your child is eating lunch in the school cafeteria, check out your school’s website to see the posted lunchroom menu. Planning with your child what they will eat everyday will prepare them to make good decisions before they step foot into the cafeteria.


Caffeine Use

Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set guidelines for safe caffeine consumption for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine use for children and adolescents. If you allow your child to occasionally drink caffeine, make sure he or she is getting enough sleep, making good grades and is not having anxiety and jitters.


E Cigarettes/Vaping

E-cigarette use among teens is on the rise, and studies show that teens often “vape” or “JUUL” (E-cigarette brand, pronounced jewel) on school grounds. This type of behavior usually happens in bathrooms, and may even occur in the classroom. Exposure to nicotine can harm brain development, in addition to raising the risk of future cigarette and drug use. Be sure your teen is ready to say “no” to the peer pressures of vaping by educating him/her on the dangers of nicotine use.


OPT IN for scoliosis screening

Schools play a vital role in early scoliosis detection. Alabama public schools offer free yearly scoliosis screening for students in the 5th through 9th grades (ages 11-14). Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, students must return a signed parent permission slip to be screened. Ensure that your child is screened for scoliosis by signing the permission slip provided to your child.

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