3 meaningful ways you can help to calm the developing teenage brain

3 meaningful ways you can help to calm the developing teenage brain

How do you respond to a teenager on an emotional rollercoaster ride? How do you react to a teenager who feels totally lost? How do you encourage a teenager who ‘appears’ not to want encouragement? Can you remember how you were as a teenager with all your emotions flying all over the place? How did you deal with those times? These are interesting questions, though, to put us at ease, the teenage emotional rollercoaster ride is normal while the brain is still developing. Within the limbic system of an adolescent, the Amygdala, which prioritizes and learns our human survival and emotional messages (Desautels, 2016) is in full flow while the brain is developing. This area, which is involved in instinctive, impulsive, emotional and aggressive reactions (Karen Young) needs to be quieted, so that the developing Prefrontal Cortex, the area above our eyes and behind the forehead, which plays a key role in impulse control, decision-making and future planning, can come more and more into play and help us make good decisions while it is being structured and wired up as a result of our learning and experiences.  The Prefrontal Cortex will only be fully developed when we are in our mid-20s. It is interesting reading the stories of ‘successful’ teenagers or those who have scaled dizzy heights with some incredible talents. Most have worked hard or trained hard to achieve their success, yet many have no idea how to deal with their fame, partly because their brains are still developing and they probably do not receive the best mentoring to keep their feet well grounded. One point is abundantly...
How you can stay connected to young people

How you can stay connected to young people

Are there days when you wonder where your teenage child has come from? Or which side of the bed he or she climbed (or fell!) out of in the morning? Chances are they’re just being normal. Or, as a mentor, are there days when you wonder if you are achieving anything in your mentoring relationship? With so much going on in those young lives and the brain still developing, sometimes we just need to remember to stay focused and keep on keeping on being the loving parents and supportive and encouraging mentors we are. Maybe you need some user-friendly tips to encourage you? 20 meaningful ways to stay connected to young people So, here’s a summary of some research I did. 20 meaningful ways to stay connected to our young people, in no particular order, that overlap with many thoughts and ideas linked to the Spirit of Mentoring. We should spend time with our children, especially when we would rather be doing something else. Invest energy when we are exhausted; take family holidays together as much as possible. Remember, there are some key skills our children need in the 21st Century, which Schools might not be paying enough attention to: public speaking, management of time, relationship building skills, negotiation and resolving conflict skills. The mentoring relationship could enhance many of these. Bite our tongues when we want to lash out. Take a deep breath and count SLOWLY to 20 when we want to scream. Keep telling our children that we love them unconditionally and nothing will ever change that – be honest and authentic at all times. Tell our children...
How you can nurture and encourage teenagers to become mentally strong

How you can nurture and encourage teenagers to become mentally strong

How much support did you have around you when you were a teenager? What did that scaffolding look like, feel like and sound like? Who were the people who provided that scaffolding? What qualities or characteristics did they display in their relationship with you? Perhaps you need some positive signs to look out for? While working in my home office a while ago, I looked out to see a painter – probably in his 30s – sitting on the scaffolding opposite our apartment taking a selfie! A quick adjustment of the T-shirt, fingers repositioning the hair, seated upright – mobile phone at the ready, a smile and click! Great selfie which was quickly sent to a friend, a loved one? Four storeys up. Beautiful sea view with that perfect autumn day framed by a cloudless, brilliant blue sky. The scaffolding was secure, strong, supportive, enabling this special moment in a painter’s day to occur. He felt safe. That got me thinking about the signs of a mentally strong teenager and the scaffolding that supports him/her so that he/she would always feel safe and secure. I have spent many months collating years and years of adolescent research and, more recently, linking this research to the latest adolescent neuroscience research. This research has reiterated how important it is for youth to have significant adults as their non-judgmental Cheerleaders to walk alongside them during a critically important season of their lives while their brains are developing. 15 signs of mentally strong teenagers As these meaningful relationships are developed and the significant adult takes on an encouraging and nurturing role, here are 15...
10 Life Lessons from my Cancer journey to encourage you

10 Life Lessons from my Cancer journey to encourage you

Do you know anyone who has been struck down with Cancer? Anyone who might be on that journey at the moment? A young person needing encouragement? Someone, especially a teenager, struggling to adapt to the results of suffering from Cancer or some other serious illness? I was struck down with cancer at the age of nine and underwent some radiation treatment (2.5 times the adult dose), followed by significant major surgery during the next couple of years and then again when I was 18. My parents were told that I probably had two years to live and, during these two years, my mother died suddenly. Thankfully, I survived the Cancer and now, 50 years later, reflecting on my life journey to date, I happily share 10 Life Lessons that I have learnt, through trial and error, highs and lows, over the years and which helped me through challenging adolescent years as I came to terms with my disfigurement and responded to it. I share these experiences with teenagers I mentor, encouraging them to keep on keeping on through the confusing adolescent years, especially when the odds are stacked against them. Following these key tips has taught me the importance of living a positive life journey filled with HOPE, experiencing unconditional love and care from those closest to me, whilst also feeling valued and, ultimately, leading a life of meaning and purpose with a strong sense of serving others. Anyone who has suffered from Cancer or another life-threatening illness, will know the challenges one experiences overcoming times of adversity and enjoying success. Here’s what my life experiences have taught me:...
10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

Did you have any superstitions or strange habits when you were an adolescent? I certainly did. When I was padding up to bat in a Cricket match, I always put my left pad on first. Why on earth did I do that? It seems so strange when I think about it now. You will see some of the top Tennis players, for example, have superstitions – how they walk off the court at the end of the game; how they move at the end of a point; how they lay out their seating area; mannerisms before they serve a ball …. Or, did you have something special you did to rid yourself of exam nerves, as Angie did? “You’ll think this is really silly,” Angie said to me when we were chatting about positive preparation for her final exams. “Nothing is silly if it helps you stay calm and rids you of stress,” I responded. “Well, before I write my exams, I listen to a whole lot of my favorite Disney film songs,” Angie informed me with a broad smile. “It just works for me and makes me feel calm and happy.” “And your brain is releasing some chemicals that will help you feel positive and calm, a ‘feel good’ effect,” I was able to offer as a word of encouragement. Australian psychologist, Andrew Fuller, comments in his excellent book – well worth reading, as it is loaded with helpful tips – Tricky Teens – How to create a great relationship with your teen … without going crazy!, about the power of music to access our emotions and suggests...
How you can show teenagers that quitting is a choice

How you can show teenagers that quitting is a choice

How many times did you quit as a teenager? What were the reasons for that choice? I have spent time in recent weeks thinking of times when I might have quit on something, especially as a teenager, and regretted it. I was an active sportsman and I distinctly remember quitting on trying to achieve a top place in a 1500 meter race during our School Athletics Day. I did not want to train and represent the School in another big Athletics meet. I was playing two other sports at the time and did not feel I could manage another. Funny, though, how I remember this so vividly over 40 years later. When I am out jogging in the morning, I replay those moments. Even though I could justify my decision, there is definitely a regret that I did not push myself to the limit in that race. I quit on school work from time to time. This was often because I either found the work boring or could not see the relevance of studying a particular subject and, therefore, was unmotivated to learn. Then I became a teacher and could share many stories with young people, from my personal experiences, how NOT to behave. What has all this to do with the spirit of mentoring? Well, I guess I was making choices at a young age, some of which were poor and others did not matter too much. With my academic studies I sometimes have regrets that I never actually pushed myself, so I have no idea how competent I really am. In my first year at University, I...