Boundaries & TikTok

Boundaries & TikTok

 Listen & Subscribe

 

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.

Follow Us

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. 

Restorative Practices with Sarah Sampson

Restorative Practices with Sarah Sampson

Listen & Subscribe:  iTunes | Google Play | RSS

 

In this episode, Chris and Karlie talk to Sarah Sampson about the basics of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) and Restorative Practices. Sarah gives some great insight into how to use belonging circles and sentence stems to have difficult conversations around race and privilege. She talks about some practical uses for restorative practices in the home and at school while also giving advice on how to advocate for SEL resources at your students’ schools.

Here are some good conversation starters:

  • A time I felt left out was…
  • I’m most conscious of my race when…
  • I cope with the difficulties race creates for me and others by…
  • I experience privilege by…
  • I make others feel more welcome by…
 
Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers – difficult conversations are uncomfortable. But it is important to empower teens to have these discussions by giving them a safe place to practice. Let’s give teenagers a place to grow and learn!

 

About Us:
Sarah Sampson is founder of Art of the Circle, an organization that provides trainings, consultation, experiences to schools, businesses, and individuals using circle practices based in Restorative Justice, Social-Emotional Learning, and Mindfulness. As the former Social-Emotional Learning Facilitator for Keller ISD, Sarah led the district-wide implementation of SEL and mindfulness-based activities for over 34,000 students. Sarah is trained in MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) through the UC San Diego Medical School. As a certified social-emotional learning, restorative practices, and yoga teacher, Sarah has developed training, curriculum and workshops to empower educators and humans of all kinds nation-wide.
 
 
Chris Robey is the CEO of Teen Life. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!
Karlie Duke is Teen Life’s Marketing & Development Director, joining Teen Life after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications and a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 10 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!
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!
Not Your Average Teen Drama

Not Your Average Teen Drama

Grief is an odd friend in our house. Between culture shock kinds of grief and mourning three of our four parents, all but one grandparent and too many friends, we’ve had our fair share. Even since we’ve been self-quarantined, I’ve lost three friends. (None of them to COVID-19.)

There is an odd pause in the collective breath when someone dies and you can’t be together to laugh and cry and remember.

We were made for connection. The Bible says it. Brené Brown says it. I’d say at this point in our world history, we can all make a footnote that says 99.9% of us agree: isolation is not a natural state of humanity. Weddings, funerals, birthdays and graduations are a thing. They are a thing because we were made to celebrate and to grieve together.

From toddlers to teens, our kids are grieving too. They are unruly and restless and not interested in school work. They might act angry sometimes, but anger and angst go hand in hand with grief. And instead of getting together to shake their fists at the sky and dance to angry music, they are forced to stay home in our worldwide time-out while they grieve the loss of what they had hoped. For prom. For graduation. For their summer jobs and trips with friends.

I think we will all look back in twenty years and, having traveled and caffeinated and danced, we will mostly agree that many of the things we are grieving now were frivolous. But at the moment, whether they are voicing it or not, our kids are just sad. And that’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad and to move through the emotion. We will all come out the other side.

As parents and teen workers, one of the most vital things we can do is help them name what they are feeling and create an atmosphere of emotional connection. Whether that’s helping them prank a friend’s yard (save the tp for a more momentous occasion and get creative) or offering a shoulder to cry on, even when all we get is attitude. Start looking for markers to help them commemorate this life event, even when the life events they expected have been marked off the calendar. (Read more about markers here.)

When my toddler starts into a fit these days, something he rarely did until about a week ago, I’ve started pulling him in close and asking what’s making him sad today. Then we pick a friend to FaceTime and bake something. We’ve been baking a lot.

Don’t be afraid to pull your teens in close and ignore the newfound homeschooling power struggle for a moment. No one will remember that late assignment twenty years down the road, but they will remember how you made them feel when the world came crashing down.

We are all grieving the loss of normalcy. We all need a virtual funeral to grieve our expectations and regroup. So schedule your days, pick one fun thing a day to do together, bake a little more than usual, but most of all, give yourself, and your teens, a lot of grace. The struggle is real.

*We’re excited to have Beverly Ross join us in our Impact group next month to speak more on grief. Usually exclusively open to monthly donors and church partners, you can now join Teen Life’s private Facebook group for FREE until further notice due to the Coronavirus. Check out the Teen Life Impact Group for support, discussion, videos, and exclusive content. Join the conversation with Teen Life and our Resident Experts, like Beverly, where we will cover new topics each month that are relevant to living and working with teenagers. In the meantime, you can find more on grief in these posts.

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.