Although your teenage students may look like they are mature enough, they are still very young and can keenly feel the fear and uncertainty of both the normal stresses of being a teen, as well as events in the world around them.
Emotions may be volatile and close to the surface during the teen years and finding the best way to connect with your teenage students can be difficult.
Many teens are already feeling extreme highs and lows because of hormonal levels in their bodies; added stress or trauma can make these shifts seem more extreme. Be understanding but firm when teens respond to stress with angry or sullen behaviour. Reassure them that you just expect them to do their best.
We are sending our youths into a future filled with stress and conflict. Parents and teachers have the responsibility to model behaviours and teach skills that will enable our youths to be productive, accepting, healthy, and above all, resilient.
Here are some ways to help your students become more resilient!
1. Self-understanding and acceptance
Self-esteem is a realistic estimate of your capabilities and worth. People with high self-esteem are productive, responsive, imaginative, and attentive to the needs of others. Encourage your students to develop their natural aptitudes and interests. Set them up for success. Empower them to be more responsible.
2. Adults' understanding and acceptance
Give your students regular, focused, undivided attention. This, more than anything else, communicates your unconditional love.
3. Constructive thinking
We are what we think. Fill your language with statements that help your teenagers see a change positively, to view adversity as manageable, to persist until they are successful, and to become more oriented to the needs of others.
Prepare your students for the reality that others may not think or believe as they do. Teach your students to identify positive and negative feelings in themselves and others. Replacing destructive thinking with constructive thinking increases self-esteem and improves coping skills.
4. Good decision-making strategies
Making a good decision requires the ability to generate alternative solutions to a problem, predict consequences, view the problem from the perspective of others, and consider how to implement alternatives to reach a solution.
Children as young as four or five can usually generate alternatives and predict consequences, but advanced decision-making skills come later. Model good decision making for your students. Show students how characters in stories make decisions. Let your students make their own decisions whenever possible.
5. Stress-coping strategies
It's not too early to teach adolescents physical relaxation exercises like breathing techniques, some forms of meditation, imagery, and muscle relaxation exercises. Help your students learn to recognize their stress triggers and responses, and identify which relaxation methods work best for them.
Also help your kids laugh--read funny stories, watch age-appropriate comedies, and laugh at their jokes.
6. Good nutrition and exercise
Good nutrition optimizes the way your mind and body works. A well-functioning mind and healthy body increase our self-esteem and resiliency. If your students see the benefits of exercise, they are more likely to take it up themselves and develop a lifelong positive habit.
7. A sense of purpose and commitment to personal and social goals
Commitment to goals gives meaning and value to life and a reason for existence. Teenagers should have more than one goal, and their goals should be realistic. Teach them to be flexible in how they achieve their goals, and help them learn persistence when progress is slow.
8. Social skills and social supports
Healthy relationships build self-esteem and protect from the negative effects of stress. Help your children to build self-awareness skills and to see situations from another's point of view. Teach them to positively manage conflict and disagreement.
Resilient children grow up to be adults who have a sense of control, a positive view of change, and an ability to find meaning and value in life. Now doesn't that describe the kind of people you want to have running the world when you retire?