Takeaways From Teen Resilience and Adaptability Seminar


Friday I attended a seminar on teen resilience and adaptability.  After walking out of there, I thought EVERYONE SHOULD HEAR THIS!  Therefore, I’m working with the presenter to see if we can offer this somehow to the Kirkwood community…stay tuned.

Here were my takeaways…again, just food for thought:

*Teens experience a high and ongoing pressure to achieve from…parents, schools, peers, cultural values of our country (this is the common belief that there is one path to ultimate happiness and that’s a prestigious college).

*Chronic and frequent daily pressure elevates anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. They escape through technology and substance abuse.

*Teenagers are lacking the ability to ponder, “What do I want? How do I get it?”

*We need to nurture their curiosity to see what they’re interested in.

*Harsh words and disparaging comments have much stronger effects than affectionate words and praise. Perceived parent criticism shows strong negative effects.

*Student perception on the seriousness of consequences for substance use correlates with student use…student use is lower when students perceive strong ramifications.

*In a study, students report consequences correlate with “mattering” to the parents. Kids need to know they matter.

*We need to emphasis integrity, kindness/decency and focus on being a good human and citizen.

Role of Peers

*Comparison and envy is rampant and teens constantly rank themselves against one another…it is constant competition. Envy is also linked to several psychological difficulties.

*Adults fall into this with Facebook.

*Teens look at social status by getting “wasted and hooking up.”

*The Instagram Effect… “Acting effortlessly perfect.” There is an unconscious pressure to project success without effort.  This presenting as perfect is prime for hiding distress.

*There is more striving for extrinsic goals (wealth, fame, being attractive) versus intrinsic goals.

Role of Schools

*High emotional engagement on the school’s part = high student adjustment

*Exposure to caring teachers and adults and a clear sense of mattering is essential to a psychological healthy school.

*Schools need low tolerance for bullying and fairness in enforcing rules.

*However, teachers are overloaded and overwhelmed and have a hard time carrying out these relationships. Teachers need to be well in order to help students be well.

Role of Technology

*Kids feel stress from having their lives on display through parents’ social media posts.  This documenting successes causes anxiety and parents need to be conscientious about what they post.

*Kids feel with all these school programs such as Schoology, Infinite Campus that they are constantly surveillanced. This can lead to constant scrutiny over every academic move. Kids need to learn over time to keep track on their own and develop social skills for talking and asking for help.

Need For Awareness:

*We need to be aware of the dangers of envy and perfectionism.

*We need to foster relationship skills in kids.

*Sleep is hugely correlated with happiness as well as exercise, leisure activities and nurturing relationships.  They need to know they matter.

*Adults need to model emotional regulation and good decision making. We need to help them learn to cope versus avoid and increase tolerance of stress.

*Obviously, there is correlation of smart phone usage and anxiety. How can we teach them to be thoughtful and reflective about how they use it? How can adults do the same thing?

*Model in-person connections

What Matters Most For Teen Resilience

*Ensuring the well being of the adults that are significant in their lives (parents, teachers, counselors, administrators, etc).

*Promote prosocial behavior, integrity and compassion over grades (this will lead to the grades).  Great quote:  “We are more in need of models that we are lessons.”

*Unconditional acceptance is critical for children.

*Nuture but keep structure.

*Provide perspective…teens don’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex so they have a difficult time projecting how situations may effect them.

*Model calmness.

*Lastly, we need to view our kids as individuals and not extensions of us.

Again, these were take aways that resonated with me as a parent and educator.  My intention on sharing this is to do just that…share. Obviously there is no perfect plan for raising/educating children, but the more we as adults share, talk, become aware of the changing world we live in, we can be better off for our kids!