Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Put his cell phone to good use.

What you can do

Help your teen use his cell phone to keep track of assignments and other commitments. A phone can also aid in concentrating and prioritizing. These executive functioning skills are essential for making smooth transitions.

Apps, calendar reminders and even text messages can be used to discreetly prompt your child to begin an activity or get ready to switch to another. Cell phones can also be used to create and update checklists.

Alarms can be set on phones so that they vibrate five minutes before an activity is scheduled to begin. Likewise, timers built into laptops can signal your child when to start wrapping up one task and prepare to move on to the next.

Check with school officials about which devices can be used at school. Then talk with your child about which options you can afford and which of them would be the easiest—and least conspicuous—for him to use.

What you can say

“Jacob, let’s look for ways your cell phone can help you stay focused in study hall. What do you think about setting it to vibrate every eight minutes? That could be your reminder to check where you are on assignments.”

“We can also use your phone to make it easier for you to keep track of class schedules and assignment due dates. I’ve read about some amazing apps for this stuff, and you might know of others. I am sure I’ll learn from you!”

Why this will help

Teens tend to be very concerned about being socially accepted. Cell phones and other technology can help prompt your child without his classmates noticing. It’s a good idea, however, to monitor your child’s phone usage to make sure games and other features aren’t becoming a source of distraction.

Check out Tech Finder to explore useful apps for your child.

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