“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” Fred Rogers
Recently the Crescenta Valley Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition (soon to be CV Alliance) expanded one of the grant required sectors, our youth sector. We currently have 32 youth who want to be involved with the CV Alliance. In speaking frankly with these 32 youth, I hear the same underlying issue. Many of the youth in the Crescenta Valley feel they are not listened to.
Pre-teen and teen years are filled with uncertainty and stress – stress about walking the halls of school, about being accepted by peers and about the pressure of figuring out the rest of their lives. One very intuitive girl asked, “Why do adults always ask us what college are we going to as early as ninth and 10th grade? Like at age 15 we are supposed to think that picking (or not picking) the right school will make or break our success in life.”
This and many other factors add daily stress to our teens. I absolutely know that the pressures adults face daily in work and home make “teen stresses” seem trivial; however, we have to remember these kids have only had a few years on earth to learn how to deal with stress. Their stresses are just as big as ours in their eyes.
As Mr. Rogers says, “Let’s listen to our teens with our ears and our hearts.” We need to realize teens may not even know how to tell you what is on their mind and most probably do not know how to pinpoint what is making them so stressed out. I am sure we have all asked our teens, “How was school?” only to receive the same answer hundreds of times: “Fine!”
To be successful in listening to our teens, we need to ask better questions in order to get better answers. Maybe change the question to, “Did you laugh at all today?” At least it may get them to laugh a little at your question and break the ice.
Teens really do want someone to listen to them. However getting them to open up to you may be tricky. Figuring out the best way to break the barrier takes time and practice. The rewards will be a happy teenager and a supportive, loving family bond. If nothing seems to be working and you are not getting through to your teen, seek help. There are free things you can do to figure out better ways to get through to your teen. There are many articles online, free classes at the YMCA every Tuesday and an interactive discussion called Challenge Success on Oct. 28 at CVHS. Seek to listen to your teen and the results will astound you.
For more information, visit our website www.cvdapc.com or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Suzy Jacobs is on vacation this week. Julia Rabago, Program director CVDAPC, wrote this article.