Hey parents, I wanted to give you a quick update on what we will be teaching in the youth group over the next several weeks (May 14th & 21st). Have an awesome weekend!
We’re Teaching This:
Remember the game Hide & Seek? Crouched in a corner? Trying to breathe without making noise? One person hides and another person seeks. That’s how it works. The truth is, it’s not all that different from our lives now. We may do it in different ways, but we are all trying to hide from things we don’t like. Things like pain, embarrassment and fear. We hide from things that hurt us. On the flip side, we’re all seeking certain things too. We spend a lot of time and energy seeking acceptance, excitement, fun, and whatever will make us feel good. The hard truth is we are rarely successful. What happens when our best efforts fail? When, no matter how hard we try, pain still gets in and happiness still gets away? Sometimes, part of growing up is deciding to stop playing the game.
Think About This:
8am: I hate my outfit.
4pm: Yes! School’s out!
5pm: I hate my life.
8pm: Best day ever!
Live with a teen long enough and you’ll start to see a pattern: up, down, good mood, bad mood, happy, sad. We’ve all heard about the emotional swings of adolescence and probably remember living through our own version of it. Any combination of homework, happenings, and hormones can turn them into a grouchy mess or a giggling goofball. Actually, research indicates that, during puberty, teen’s brains develop the ability to experience intense emotions like rage, sorrow, and elation. Unfortunately, neural connections that help students control and process these emotions doesn’t develop until later. (http://www.livescience.com/21461-teen-brain-adolescence-facts.html )
So pace yourself, because for at least a few years, you’ll have teens who have strong emotions but no tools to sort through them yet. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help them navigate the ups and downs until your teenager figures out how to work through the on their own.
- Be there for them, but don’t join in. As much as they hate to admit it, students will often take emotional cues from their parents. How you react to their situation will give them an idea of how they should react. So, as parents, we must be careful not to get sucked in to the meaningless drama of the lunch table or the contagious funk of teen angst. Empathize, but don’t participate. This doesn’t mean we have to hide our emotions or live like robot, but it does mean that we don’t hop on the emotional roller coaster with them every time it goes by.
- Help them zoom out. Perspective is everything. Often with teens, when one thing is going badly they feel like everything in their life is falling apart. Or, if one thing is going well, they may focus on that and feel that nothing else matters. Either way, it us up to us to help them find perspective until their brains mature enough to sort out what is a big deal and what isn’t. This doesn’t mean we belittle their emotions. What they feel is very real to them, but we can help them gain some perspective by working to zoom out their lens and take in the bigger picture. Ask them to tell you…
…one good thing that happened to them today.
…5 things they’re thankful for.
…2 things they’re looking forward to doing.
Focusing on what’s going well or what’s coming next or can help them digest what’s happening now.
Sometimes the best thing we can do for our students is simply to let them know we’re praying for them. Here are two options to help you get started:
- Choose one thing to pray for your student this week. Don’t make it behavior related, but rather something you want for them. And drop a sticky note in their lunch or backpack letting them know. It can be as simple as, “Hey, I’m praying for you to have a great basketball practice this week” or “Hey, I’m praying for you to feel confident this week”.
Ask your student how you can pray for them or their friends this week. And promise to do it. Since prayer requests are so personal, this is probably not the time to launch into a lesson or follow up questions. Simply let your student know that you love them and you’re praying for whatever is important to them.