Teenagers at Risk
Our teenage children face a great deal of pressure on a daily basis.
This article is geared for those of us who have children who become overwhelmed by the stress. My intention is to offer some direction to alleviate the sadness and difficulties that can lead our teens down the wrong path. When a problem arises, there are excellent resources available to those that are in need of assistance. In addition to Psychologists such as myself, school professionals (guidance, administration) there are sources on the Internet that answer basic questions.
Irritability, anger, or hostility
Withdrawal from friends and family
Changes in eating and sleeping habits
Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
Tearfulness or frequent crying
Loss of interest in activities
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Fatigue or lack of energy
Thoughts of death or suicide
So now that I have signs and symptoms you may ask, “what do I do next?”
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Step 1 Keep an eye out for changes in your child. Is he / she distancing themselves from friends and family? Are they more angry and irritable than usual (hard to believe with teens but yes it can intensify)?
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Step 2 Engage your child in conversation. Find out what they are thinking and feeling. The more you understand about your child, the easier it will be to identify mood fluctuations within them. If you are the parent reading this article that does not currently have concerns (great place to be) a great suggestion would be to build upon or create a hobby with your child. This will allow for shared time, which is your opportunity to find out about their lives.
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Step 3 – Watch for warning signs. My best advice would be to contact a professional at this point. We are trained to identify and alleviate depression as well as other emotional conditions. Do not just wait for it to go away on its own. And do not accept idle threats – always treat them seriously. When in doubt you can call 211 – this free service available throughout the majority of the country can help you decide if you need emergency services or if you can take another route. Support groups are also a great idea in many situations.
As our children move through the school year, there are many hurdles for them to clear. Ultimately our goal as parents, educators and healthcare providers is to help lift them up when they need support and push them to higher levels of success. One area that we measure is their academic success. We are often focused on grades, class placement and areas of need but there is a less understood concept that can help all children known as learning style.
There are three basic types of learning styles. Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To learn, we depend on our senses to process the information around us. Most people tend to use one of their senses more than the others. Read the following descriptions and see if your child fits within one or more of the styles.
Visual learners learn by seeing and looking. They may take numerous detailed notes and tend to sit in the front. Visual learners are usually neat and clean, often close their eyes to visualize or remember something and try to find something to watch if they are bored.
Auditory learners learn by hearing and listening. They sit where they can hear and may hum or talk to themselves or others when bored. They acquire knowledge by reading aloud and will remember best by verbalizing lessons to themselves.
High Auditory learners benefit from listening – hearing the information and processing it accordingly. Auditory learners focus easily on sounds and have good memory of what they have heard through lectures. Studying with a friend to talk out loud and hear the information and reciting out loud will improve memory.
Kinesthetic / Tactile learners include individuals that learn by touching and doing. Kinesthetic Learners need to be active and take frequent breaks, they speak with their hands and remember what was done, but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen. Additionally they find reasons to tinker or move when bored, rely on what they can directly experience or perform and enjoy activities such as cooking, construction, engineering and art help them perceive and learn. In a school setting these learners tend to sit near the door or someplace where they can easily get up and move around and are uncomfortable in classrooms where they lack hands-on experience.
High Tactile learners acquire knowledge best through manipulation – doing, touching, hands-on, and writing techniques. When memorizing, they pace or walk around while reciting to themselves, and also try writing the information on a desk with their fingers. Keep something in their hands that is malleable. Eating, drinking, chewing gum, and listening to music are also helpful. (www.sunburst.usd.edu)