Stress & Teen Terms

Stress & Teen Terms

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Summary:
Anxiety and stress were rampant in a pre-covid world, but now (dare we say it?), stress has become a pandemic. Teens are no exception. Join us as we explore what teenagers are stressed about and how to create connection. You’ll even learn what all the cool kids are saying these days and how to interpret it. Fair warning: Use these terms at your own risk.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Teen terms to note:

  • Fire: cool or amazing
  • Lit: amazing, exciting, or drunk
  • Extra: unnecessarily dramatic, over the top
  • Cap/capping/no cap: to lie or exaggerate; no cap is to tell the truth
  • Snatched: fashionable
  • Fit: short for “outfit”
  • Bet: used instead of “yes” or “okay”; or when someone challenges you in place of “watch” or “we’ll see”.
    “I’ll see you tonight” “Bet.”
    “You won’t win tonight, that team is too good.” “Bet”
  • Low-key: low-key means slightly, secretly, modestly; highkey means your sincerely or assertively into something- “I low-key have a crush on him.”
  • Salty: annoyed, upset, bitter
  • Shook: when you’re affected by something; shocked, surprised, scared- “I am still shook from the ending of that book”
  • Tea/Spill the tea: gossip or sharing something juicy
  • Thirsty: when someone is overly eager, searching for compliments or attention

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us:

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Boundaries & TikTok

Boundaries & TikTok

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Summary:
The Teen Life Podcast is back and in this first episode of the new season, Chris and Karlie talk boundaries and why they are important in any relationship, but especially with teens. Keep an ear out for practical tips on how to approach setting boundaries that teens will respect. Karlie also offers insight into TikTok and how it’s influencing culture today.

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below or email podcast@teenlife.ngo.  We would love to hear from you!

About Us:

Chris Robey

Chris Robey

CEO

Chris has worked with teens from a variety of backgrounds for over a decade. He has a desire to help teenagers make good choices while also giving their families tools to communicate more effectively as choices are made.

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Director of Communications

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.

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Building Resilience Together

Building Resilience Together

My family had a week this month where, from the smallest to the tallest, we were impatient and short-tempered. In a word, grumpy. With no particular cause, rhyme or reason. And then I realized. About a year ago, my oldest came home from school for Spring Break. And he didn’t go back—or go anywhere really—for quite some time.

Grumpy wasn’t the word. Traumatized.

I must admit, quarantine is my jam. From sourdough baking to setting the table for “fancy” breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and long walks around the neighborhood, we have lived up the slow life despite the many setbacks of the Virus.

But there’s something engrained in our DNA that remembers the initial shock and worry of the Unknown and Unplanned For that came last March.

For so many teens, staying home didn’t or doesn’t mean three meals a day with the whole family. At an age where the rituals of graduation and prom and seeing friends at school feel essential, teens were stripped of their rites of passage.

For all of us, last March was traumatic. And despite even the best situations, this year was lonely for most of us.

But with teens in particular, we have an incredible opportunity. At an age where they understand loss, they appreciate more than ever when we take the time to teach them how to overcome it.

And it’s teachable!

In Michele Borba’s* new book, Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle and Others Shine, she breaks resilience in to seven teachable traits. Self-confidence, empathy, self-control, integrity, curiosity, perseverance and optimism. Beyond the ability to perform in school, kids that possess any combination of these traits have the ability to thrive. Kenneth Ginsberg in a similar fashion talks about confidence, competence, connection, character, contribution, coping and control.

It’s why we love Support Groups. When students leave our groups after eight weeks saying things like, “I started taking time to think about a situation and find a positive outlook” or “Everyone is struggling with something. I’m not the only one who feels this way.”, we know we’re on to something.

We have an opportunity. Now more than ever, parents, educators, friends, in passing anecdotes and stories, dinner conversations and analyzing math problems, we can give our students a better, fresher start, starting now. We can build resilience together.

A few suggestions:

  1. Foster conversations about emotions. Help them notice the emotions that characters might be feeling in a story. Turn off the electronics and ask them what makes them happy. What makes them sad? At our house, we play a game called High, Low, Buffalo where everyone has the opportunity to share a high, a low and anything random about their day. Sometimes we stay at the table longer to finish. I’ve found it creates opportunity for connection, but also optimism, even when the first answer is that the whole day was horrible.
  2. Get excited about the things they get excited about. Without pushing, prodding or encouraging, share their joy.
  3. Asking questions is more powerful than solving their problems. For us Type A Overachievers it’s easy to jump in and fix everything, but handing back the control fosters confidence and perseverance. Most of the time, they just need someone who cares to listen while they think things through.
  4. Play “what if.” Help them recognize things that trigger their emotions and help them make a plan in advance for how to deal with it.
  5. Express your gratitude for at least one thing every day and encourage them to do the same. I’m not talking toxic positivity. Sometimes there’s only one, but one good thing can help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

No matter whether the students in your life are struggling, striving, or thriving, reinforcing social emotional learning will help them succeed now and as they grow. It’s a win-win.

Have more suggestions on how to help teens thrive? Tell us in the comments!

 

*We’re looking forward to hearing more from Dr. Michele Borba on resilience and raising the pandemic generation at the Teen Life Summit! Click here for info and registration.

Kelly Fann

Kelly Fann

Marketing Assistant

Kelly has lived in three countries and worked with teens across the world, encouraging them to pursue their passions and to be kind.

The Quest for Hope

The Quest for Hope

This week is HOPE Week at my kids’ school put on by their HOPE Squads. For my elementary aged students, it’s a week of dressing up and having some extra fun in the classroom while talking about how to be kind and caring to others. For my middle schooler, the idea is similar but slightly more advanced. At her school, they are talking about having hope and looking for others who might need some hope or who are displaying signs of depression and/or suicidal ideation. Talking about hope and planning for dress up days with my children has really made me think about the quest for hope.

Hope is defined by Dictionary.com as “the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence: to believe, desire, or trust: or to place trust; rely.”

As the pandemic continues, the research has indicated that students are struggling – they are lacking hope that life will return to normal post pandemic. While it’s too early to definitively link increased anxiety, depression, and suicide rates directly to the pandemic, the early numbers continue to show that the rates for these and other mental health crises is on the rise among our students. (See related articles here, here, and here.)

So how do we, as adults working with students or with our own children, look for and point to hope as we continue to navigate life in a unique season? A few ideas.

  1. Start by admitting hope is hard to find some days. It’s normal to feel sad or mad and helping the students in our lives normalize these feelings is so important. They are not on an island alone.
  2.  Talk to students about self-care. Ask what are students doing to take care of themselves on hard days? It can be reading, playing games, watching tv, listening to music, or writing. Talking in advance about positive ways to handle stress empowers you as an adult to encourage them to utilize these ideas as the need arises.
  3. Encourage connections. Where are the places your child can interact with peers and adults in a season with many limitations?
  4. Identify places you see hope and talk about them. Even our oldest students are watching and looking to us as the adults. If you are excited about something, share it. If you are able to see how a struggle turned out for the best, talk about it.

As always, if you need help – seek it out. Support groups, counseling, crisis lines. This applies not only to our students, but to us as adults. Your students and children are watching and will know if you are struggling too. They also learn how to ask for help by watching you and me.

Searching for hope can’t last only a week at school. It has to be a day in, and day out endeavor for all of us. As Andy tells Red in the classic movie Shawshank Redemption: “Hope is a good thing, may be the best of the things. And no good thing ever dies.” May you find hope this week in the midst of the chaos.

Beth Nichols

Beth Nichols

Director of Operations

With her background in social work and experience as a mom of 4, Beth’s perspective is invaluable. She has had the opportunity in both her personal and professional life to encounter youth from a variety of situations. 

Shifting Gears

Shifting Gears

We live in a world that invokes anxiety in even the most tranquil souls. A pandemic, social isolation, social media, job insecurity… the last 12 months alone have gone beyond the average social drama. Current reality is so far beyond the imaginable that even soap operas are losing their appeal.

As anxiety producing as current events are, isn’t it perhaps anxiety itself that has driven Americans to our current state?

When we are secure in our own well-being and sense of self, we are better at winning and losing graciously. We do a better job of looking out for others’ well-being because their well-being doesn’t feel like a threat against our own.

So how do we break the cycle? How do we help teens learn to regulate their emotions, and how do we teach them to be more empathetic?

The National Association of School Psychologists gave a press release in October 2020 on ensuring student well-being during the election. Although it’s framed in the context of school and the 2020 election, it’s one of the most comprehensive lists on shaping empathy and emotional well-being in kids and teens.

Here’s my general interpretation of their list.
Build a shared sense of community. It’s all about trust and respect: adult to adult; adult to teen; and everything in between.
Be the change. If you’re not, they won’t be either.
Help the people around you feel safe. No matter the political climate, no one deserves to feel marginalized or at risk.
Create an expectation of acceptance. Racism, systematic inequity or violence are never ok. Bullying is never ok.
Ask questions vs. leveling accusations or generalizing. Stay curious and encourage students to do the same.
Funnel interests and energy into positive actions. Taking action and helping others is empowering.

But how do we do that?

Dr. Lori Desautels, assistant professor at Butler University in Indianapolis, specializes in neuroscience in the classroom. She calls anxiety “our nation’s new learning disability” and is a strong advocate for co-regulation in the classroom, as well as explicitly teaching social-emotional skills.

Her methods are similar to Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) strategies and start with adults learning to calm their own anxieties in order to create a contagiously calm atmosphere. Instead of “managing” a household or a classroom, adults “co-regulate” emotions, equipping students with the skills they need to negotiate stressful situations and to learn.

The concept is not new, though it is easy to forget in the moment. By setting the example first and foremost, by “being the change,” we help those around us feel safe. We calm others’ state of “fight or flight” and set the groundwork for building trust and acceptance.

We can teach teens language to identify their emotions by responding to perceived defiance and arrogance with “That must feel very…” “This must make you feel…” “You sound so…” Desautels says instead of answering a complaint or encouraging their escalation, hear the feeling and mirror that. Wait for their response.
Using a 2×10 strategy strengthens trust and helps teens feel seen. Intentionally taking 2 minutes for 10 days in a row to ask about their passion or their lives is a game changer.
Creating a 5 to 10-minute ritual at the beginning or end of the period, interaction, or day creates ‘family privilege’ with teenagers. Because students live chaotic lives and often lack trust-worthy adults, working on mindfulness or Focused Attention Practices will support predictability and encourage a calm state.

When the stakes feel high, it’s hard. When we don’t feel that we have a network of people who help us co-regulate ourselves, whether at work or at home, it’s very hard. But it is essential work.

As parents, teachers and administrators, anxiety is a lion we must learn to tame daily with great intentionality. In doing so, we help position those entrusted to our care to thrive.

Resources:
https://www.nasponline.org/about-school-psychology/media-room/press-releases/nasp-guidance-for-ensuring-student-well-being-in-the-context-of-the-2020-election?utm_content=bufferfbc49&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer&fb

https://www.burnedinteacher.com/blog/ep-028-dr-lori-desautels-helps-us-coregulate-ourselves-and-our-students

http://revelationsineducation.com/how-neuroscience-helps-kids-heal-from-trauma/

 

Kelly Fann

Kelly Fann

Marketing Assistant

Kelly has lived in three countries and worked with teens across the world, encouraging them to pursue their passions and to be kind. 

The Fake News Effect

The Fake News Effect

“We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.” – The Truman Show

Social and political polarization is at an all-time high. Conspiracy theories, strong opinions, and stereotyping are taking over social media channels. I don’t point this out to scare you, but it is so important that we are well-informed, especially when it comes to what we are consuming online.

Earlier this fall, Netflix released a documentary called The Social Dilemma. It is full of eye-opening interviews about how social media and sites like Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and others can manipulate users to stay engaged on the site so they can make money. It shares the dark side of the internet, but it is not something that is brand new.

One of the main problems that The Social Dilemma discusses is the danger of “fake news”. They quote an MIT study that found fake news on Twitter spreads six times faster than true news.

Think about that! Six times!

How are we (or our teenagers) supposed to know what is reality when false information is spreading at a much faster rate?

These social media platforms have algorithms that target users and often times put them in an echo chamber so that they will continue coming back to the site. As you scroll through your feed, you might think, “How can they believe that? Don’t they see the facts? Don’t they see the information I am seeing?” But they don’t. Their feed looks drastically different than yours.

The algorithm could set off a chain of events like this:

  • You like a friend’s post about their trip to Disney World
  • A video pops up about the top 10 attractions at Disney World
  • You go down a rabbit hole of watching families take surprise Disney trips
  • A Disney Vacation group is recommended
  • Events coming up at Disney start popping up on your feed
  • You see ads for Disney travel agents, plane tickets, and Disney hotels

And it goes on and on…

This is a light-hearted example of how social media can take you down a path where you find yourself on a plane to Florida for a week-long vacation at Disney World. But it can also manipulate your thoughts on COVID-19, the election, and more. It can quickly give information you agree with and polarize you from others who maybe weren’t originally that different from you.

The Social Dilemma said, “We have less and less control over who we are and what we really believe.”

This can have devastating consequences when we start sharing news sources that haven’t been checked, or when we share information that is false or exaggerated. It is so important that we do a “Fake News Check” when we are going down our rabbit holes online. Here are a few things that you might find helpful as you try to navigate what is fake vs. reality:

Check your source.
Remember your old research paper days when you had to cite sources? Channel your favorite English teacher and start digging into the content you see on social media. Before you share or like a post, ask some of these questions: Is this source credible? Is it unbiased and backed by evidence? Is it current? Does it properly cite quotes and research?

There is so much information on the internet. It is easier than ever to find an article or story that backs your beliefs, but is it accurate? Is it reality or are you falling into the fake news trap? Checking your sources is a great place to start!

Follow different voices.
When you are scrolling through social media, do you see the same opinion over and over again? Does everyone you follow look and sound like you? Especially lately, it has been so tempting to unfollow and unfriend people who hold different opinions than me. There are definitely times where it is healthy to unfollow toxic accounts, but I would encourage you to make sure you are reading posts that might challenge your worldview – it is vital for growth and empathy!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to get caught in an echo chamber where I am not open to the thoughts and experiences of others. Be intentional about who you follow and how you can grow.

Start conversations.
When you start to go down that rabbit hole, talk to someone. When you are getting worked up because of what you are seeing in your Facebook feed, run it by someone else. When you are overwhelmed, set up some boundaries. Just being aware of the fake news trap is a good defense, but make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who will hold you accountable and engage in positive discussions. This is especially important for teenagers!

Here are some discussion questions that you can use to start a conversation with your teen or other loved ones about social media:

  • What are you seeing on social media this week? What have you been watching? What have you disagreed with?
  • Are there any boundaries that could help you manage social media and friends better? How can I help you with that?
  • What are some negative things about social media that you don’t enjoy? What is a positive thing about social media?

Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. But there are things that we can do to stop the spread of Fake News. There are boundaries that we can set to limit its influence in our lives. It’s time to start talking about it so we can take control back! Sit down with your teen, your spouse, your friend and start a conversation this week.

*If you want to see more posts on The Social Dilemma, head over to our Teen Life Impact Facebook Group. It is a group for adults to find support and resources. We promise to check our sources 😉

Karlie Duke

Karlie Duke

Marketing & Development Director

Karlie was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. She has gained experience working with teenagers through work, volunteer, and personal opportunities.