How Well Do Teens Like Themselves?

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Maybe being anonymous helps. It’s hard to brag about yourself. How many teens feel really good about themselves? One teen I talked with said she feels as good as possible for her. It is hard for most people to imagine feeling that good. She feels she has no room for improvement. Many people feel great, or GRRRReat like Tony the Tiger, at least some of the time. When you accomplish something special, when someone acts particularly thoughtful of you, or when someone tells you how wonderful you are, it’s easy to feel on top of the world at least for a little while.

It’s surprising to me how many teens can separate who they are and what happens around them. Even if people blame them for everything, if they make quite a few mistakes, or if they face more than their share of problems, many are still able to see that it is not necessarily their fault.

At one time I worked with children and teens whose parents were in the process of divorce. I worried about whether kids would blame themselves. Most of the time I heard them say they realized it was their parents’ problem. Some who were honest thought things might have turned out different if they were able to help their parents somehow. Maybe they could have prevented it, at least in their mind.

Another teen is a good example. He likes himself quite well but still sees his life as “full of ups and downs.” He sees his family as helping him feel good about himself even though they are going through a lot themselves. They don’t blame him for their problems and are able to love him despite their own struggles. A teen girl doesn’t like herself quite as well as most of the others I talked with, but she can still think of positive things about herself.

Even when there are many things you would like to change, you still have good in you and around you. Do you know what Oprah has in common with Henry David Thoreau, the guy who wrote Walden Pond in the nineteenth century? They both believed in taking time out every day to write down things for which they were grateful. Sometimes you have to work to find the good things in your life, but it’s not a bad habit to get into, especially during rough times. When you feel overwhelmed, you can look back over what you wrote as the bright spots in your life.

I was a little surprised that teens who have a hard time in life can feel good inside. I thought that the rough spots would make it hard for them to like themselves. Blaming yourself for what goes wrong makes it even harder to feel at peace. If you don’t blame yourself, you might find someone else to blame and stay angry for a while, or just decide you have bad luck. Try accepting your life as it is, just for now.

There is something about adolescence which makes it easier to like yourself. Teens haven’t had as much time to practice getting down on themselves as adults have and may find it easier to bounce back from tough times. What do you think?

While it’s sometimes hard to imagine that times will ever get better, there are so many things changing during adolescence that it might be best not to take them too seriously. Maybe you can accept that change is inevitable for everyone and that there will most likely be better times ahead.

(Excerpt from my book, Make the Best of Your Teen Years: 105 Ways to Do It)

 

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Alice’s Story A Day in the Life of a Teen

I woke up at six-thirty this morning. My mother hadn’t yet popped her head into my room, but I heard her knocking and waking up my brother Pete and my sister Carrie. How does she manage to be so cheerful every morning? Does she get up and practice in the mirror before she wakes us up? I wouldn’t have it in me until I was up for a few hours.

My usual routine again today: toilet, shower, deodorant, the little makeup my mother lets me to wear to school, and then back to my bedroom to decide what to wear. Mom thinks I should pick out something the night before. She used to do this for me when I was younger. I couldn’t do it then and I can’t now. How would I know what kind of mood I might be in the next morning? Will I want to be part of the woodwork today, coordinated with my friends, unique, or part of the crowd? Will I want my teachers to notice me or leave me alone today?

I have to admit, this is hard to decide in the few minutes I have every morning. Sometimes I don’t really know what mood I’ll in until breakfast and then I have to run back upstairs to change. I might not know for sure until I am getting off the bus at school and then it’s too late.

Mom usually has an editorial review ready for me by the time I get down to breakfast. “That’s a nice top, Sweetie.” “Don’t you think you might be a little too warm with that sweater?” “Isn’t that skirt a little short, Alice?”  I never know what to expect, but at least she notices what I’m wearing.  I guess that’s good.
At least I get to climb on the bus by myself. My brother and sister aren’t old enough to take the early bus yet. I am the second one on unless my friend Jenny oversleeps and misses the bus. I don’t have much choice of who to sit with. I can either sit with Jenny and make her happy or sit by myself and make her sad.
Sitting by myself, I have to take my chances on who will sit next to me. Sometimes this is fun and sometimes it’s a pain if one of the goof-offs sits down next to me. I’m working on a way to let people know I don’t want them to sit with me without actually having to come out and say it. So far I haven’t figured out anything both subtle and effective.

Getting off the bus is a real sideshow. Boys try to look cool and end up looking goofy. Girls try a new hairdo or a combination of top and shorts to see if they can look glamorous or refined, unless it is a day when they don’t care what anyone thinks.

Alex tells me he likes my sweater on the way into class. Does he really, or is he just trying to be nice? He surprises me. I didn’t realize he even knew I existed. I wanted to talk to him for a long time and then he beat me to it. Is he just into sweaters, or does he like me? I should ask his sister Julie but she might tell him I asked. I guess that wouldn’t be so bad. At least then he would know he exists in my imagination at least.

Today none of my teachers notice my sweater or say anything else about me for that matter. I guess today is just one of those “fit in” days where teachers don’t notice me. Mrs. Holmes compliments me for answering a question in geometry class. I don’t usually volunteer an answer. I would hate to look dumb in my hardest class. I think she appreciates me trying though.

After school, Tina invites me over to listen to her new music downloads. I like going to her house. We can be honest with each other about things that bother us and not wonder if we will be laughed at. She offers to help me with geometry which for some strange reason makes sense to her. She must have a different kind of brain than I do. I take her up on her offer.

When I get home, my brother Pete is practicing free throws in the basket above the garage door. He throws the ball to me and I swish it. Basketball is the one thing we have in common. He even compliments me on my fine shot. I quit while I’m ahead.

My sister Carrie is playing a game on the computer when I walk inside the house. I have to look up some stuff for my global studies class. I guess I could let her play for a while before bugging her. Homework is always more important than games on our family computer. Maybe some day I will have my own. Carrie smiles at me. I guess she somehow knows I am giving her a break.

Before I got up this morning, Dad had to leave for an early meeting at work. I wonder how he does it. I find it hard enough getting up when I do. He’s home when I walk in the door and asks me how my day was and I tell him fine, even in geometry. He says he would help me if he could but he was never good at it either. I thought all boys were supposed to be good at math.

I help Mom with dinner and she thanks me as usual. It’s our little routine. She asks me if I have much homework and I tell her the litany of little assignments I have for the night. I get to it after dinner in my room. I enjoy having my own room. It’s like my castle. Everyone has to knock if the door is closed. Sometimes it is nice to be alone.

As I get undressed, I look at myself in the mirror. I still look fifteen. My breasts seem a little bigger than they were yesterday. Could that be possible? What if they get too big? What would the boys think of that? What would my friends think? What would I think? I guess there’s not much I can do about it right now.

I saw a show on the health channel about breast surgery. They can put implants in if your breasts are too small or cut some off if they are too big. I don’t like the idea of being cut up to look a little bigger or smaller. I guess I will just wait to see how I turn out.

Otherwise I think I look okay. I’m not glamorous like Katie. I’m not plain like June, although a makeover might help her look a lot better. There’s a lot more to me than how I look. My friends all like what they call my “personality.” Maybe I will find out more about that when I take psychology. I guess my friends mean that I’m nice to people. I try to be friendly to everyone I can. After all, that’s how I want them to treat me. Well, it’s time for bed. I’ll have another day to work on myself tomorrow, math as well as personality.

(Excerpt from my book,  Make the Best of Your Teen Years: 105 Ways to Do It.)

Are you autistic? Getting diagnosed as a teen or adult

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About 1.5 million people in the United States have autism, according to Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism. This number has increased significantly in the past couple of decades, likely due to greater knowledge about the disorder.

Even with that greater knowledge, the number is only an estimate and it becomes murkier when discussing people other than kids.

The number of adults living with autism today is even less certain according to AFFA. “Some sources cite that roughly 80 percent of those individuals with autism are under the age of 22.”

(Excerpt from Sinclair Cares article in Sinclair Broadcasting-read more)

Life at Diablo Valley College – Taking the Road Less Traveled from Dublin High School

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As graduation was soon approaching, many of my friends had asked me where I had applied to. Their faces said enough when I nonchalantly said, “DVC.” I felt like in that moment they thought slightly lower of me. They didn’t think I was dumb; they just thought my decision was where the dumb people go. This is a common misconception of many Dublin High School students. Students joke about their bad test scores and say, “Well, I guess I’m going to Las Po!” At a school like Dublin High, the best is what anyone strives for. It’s not outwardly said that every graduate must go to a highly accredited four year, but it is heavily implied within the student body. The student body has this belief that if one does not get into a decent college, their future is completely done with. I’m writing this article to prove, with my case, that it is in fact a misconception.

Excerpt from Alyssia Arriaga’s post in One Dublin.org. Read more

Long Distance Relationships

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Relationships can be stressful enough without throwing in the wrench of long distance. On the flip side, giving up on a meaningful relationship can come with its own traumas and regrets. “Long distance requires work and sacrifice, but if it’s the right relationship and the effort is mutual, it can be amazing,” says psychotherapist and relationship expert Terri Cole. “Understanding why you’re considering staying together is important: Is it fear of being alone or hurting the other person’s feelings or do you really see yourself with this person long-term?”

Excerpt from Sharon Feiereisen’s article in Teen Vogue. Read more.

In our opinion: Operation Safety Net to take on suicide risk among LGBT youth

 

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State health officials recently reported an alarming increase in rates of suicide among teenagers in Utah, to the point that it is now the leading cause of death among children 10 to 17. The exact reasons for the increase are not entirely clear, but there is a great deal of informed speculation taking place about what is clearly a community problem of tragic proportions. We are seeing a growing level of public awareness as well as a willingness to discuss the issue openly and candidly and move toward finding solutions.

This is healthy and positive, particularly in the category of suicide rates among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. Statistics would indicate that LGBT teens are four times more likely to engage in suicidal behavior, and potentially less likely to seek help. Various organizations are working to better understand the problem and identify ways to take action, including a new program called Operation Safety Net, which deserves credit for furthering a community dialogue about an issue that is highly sensitive and often difficult to speak of in policy circles, as well as in family settings. Read more

Waltham Voices: Peer leaders making difference at Waltham High

Climber belaying fellow climber
Climber belaying fellow climber

February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen relationships and promote healthy relationships. Dating violence is an issue that many teens experience. One in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults.

Excerpt from Jessica Teperow’s article in Wicked Local Waltham– read more