Do what you would do for a friend

Parents, how would you respond to a friend who told you, “For the last nine months, I’ve been working a minimum of 60 hours a week. And I’m so tired.”

You’d probably be sympathetic. You’d show some compassion. You might even encourage them to take a vacation and lie on the beach for a week.

But you probably wouldn’t tell them that their competitors are working just as hard if not harder, or ask them for an update on their current projects, or remind them how important a good work ethic is to get ahead.

Today’s college-bound students are working longer hours, with more pressure around getting into college, and experiencing higher incident rates of depression and anxiety than ever before.

If your teen tells you that they’re tired, or even more insidiously, if you can read from their face and their lack of energy that they’re just worn out, don’t remind them how this will all be worth it one day. Don’t immediately strategize for ways they can do just as much work in less time. Don’t compare them to other kids (many of whom are just as tired if not more so).

Instead, just stop and listen. Ask about how they’re feeling. Let them feel heard, believed, and unconditionally loved and supported.

Do what you would do for a friend.