Category Archives: teenagers

i-need-your-help

I hope your week is off to a wonderful start.

I am in the process of planning my content for the rest of 2016 and I’ve hit a mental block.

I’ve been posting content daily for a little more than a year now and think that maybe it’s time for a little overhaul.

As I was trying to figure all this out, I realised something.

I NEED HELP!!
Specifically, I’d LOVE your help

What I would love your help with is . . .
• Any burning business related questions you want to ask
• Any particular topics you want to hear me talk more about here on this page
• Would you like or prefer me to share business related information via short video messages?
• What would you like popping into your inbox from me every week? Would you like me to do a weekly/monthly newsletter? If so, what topics would you like me to cover that would inspire and empower you and help you build a thriving business?
• If you would like to receive a weekly/monthly newsletter from me, please provide me with your e-mail address for my mailing list.

If you could spare a minute or so just to give me some feedback I would appreciate it so much. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Would you prefer a short video more than reading posts here? Do you prefer Podcasts to video? Do you want a newsletter? If yes, how often? Weekly or monthly? What topics would you like covered?

Let me know anything and everything that will help inspire me to create content that you will love.

I look forward to receiving your feedback in the comments box below.

Have a lovely week.

Rape Accused “was celibate”

Newspaper

This was the headline of an article in a local newspaper (The Witness, 10 September 2014, pg 2) this week. I could not believe what I read in this article. See article here: Rape Accused was Celibate 10.09.2014

The article spoke of a teenager in bed with a couple (husband and wife). The couple had taken a vow of celibacy and saw nothing wrong with sharing their bed with a teenage girl. The reason for taking the teenager into their bed (the woman said) was because the teenager was not feeling well (she had a headache) and she was feeling lonely because she had nobody to talk to.

Am I the only one who thinks this whole situation sounds a bit ridiculous?

The article went on to say:
• The wife found nothing wrong with having the teenager in the same bed with her and her husband because children are always allowed in their parents’ bed when they are ill.
• The wife also said the couple had taken a vow of celibacy as a couple, so they were in the same spiritual frame of mind and he could not break spiritual laws.
• The wife said “the girl was beautiful but had showed too much flesh” at her husband’s birthday party earlier that evening. The wife continued to say the teenager told her husband that he was her favourite relative while holding on to him during the party that same evening.

I don’t know about you, but there is something very wrong with this story. What do you think?

Latch-Key Kids

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This past week I have been thinking about childhood trauma and the coping mechanisms we use to overcome or lessen the impact of this trauma. My attention was then drawn to what is commonly known as “latch-key kids” i.e. children living in single parent households (single and the breadwinner) or households where both parents need to work. The child is given a key to the house and comes home to an empty house after school and remains unsupervised (without a caregiver) until the parent(s) come home from work – usually late in the afternoon/early evening.

In South Africa, this is a common occurrence especially in the middle and more especially in the low income households. This is a sure formula for behavioural problems later. These children live a sad existence. Imagine, coming home from school to find no one home to love them or to advise them, supervise and help with homework or have a role model, is a sure way to have a lot of pent up rage later in life.

This child usually (I’m generalising here) has low self esteem, self hatred, feelings of abandonment which could lead to self destructive behaviour or overt hostility – a story of a “stolen childhood”. It is common for these children to have higher levels of anti-social behaviour (incarceration, drug and alcohol abuse etc). Two types of behaviour could stem from this: (1) chasing the high (adrenalin junkie) or (2) self-medicating (the hypochondriac or maybe even a “comfort” eater).

Description of traumatic experiences:
Some events could possibly only occur once (e.g. rape) but many other experiences could occur numerous times throughout childhood. Asked about their experiences, children would probably express it as “no big deal” but for many it would actually be very traumatic. I would also think that the effects of the trauma would depend on the coping mechanisms the child has learnt over the years, to minimise the trauma to him/herself.

Generally speaking, particularly here in South Africa, the most frequently described traumatic experience is sexual abuse, usually by a family member (i.e. father, brother or cousin). The sexual abuse could range from fondling to frequent and sadistic sexual penetration. In South Africa, the latest victim was four months old.

Another common traumatic experience is witnessing violence in the home (physical and psychological violence between the adults in the home is common). This usually occurs when one or both the adults are under the influence of alcohol or drugs (or in some cases, both). Some children are spanked or beaten with a belt when they misbehaved and others suffer psychological abuse which results in feelings of demoralisation and low self-esteem.

Abandonment by fathers is another common occurrence in South Africa (particularly in the low income households). Fathers abandon the mother while she is still pregnant and often never come back meaning that they never see the child or sometimes they come back a few months or a few years after the birth and try to reconnect with the mother in the hope of connecting with the child. The trauma caused to the child varies depending on the age of the child. In some instances, fathers only come back to establish a relationship with the child when they hear that the child has a successful career and earning good money or the child has an elevated status in society etc so the re-connection with the child is usually status or driven by money (selfish reasons) – not because they are interested in the child.

Sometimes the mother (and in extreme cases, both parents) abandons the home. Many children, especially in our lower income communities have to fend for themselves and often have to take responsibility for younger siblings as well when their parents leave them – sometimes for days, weeks, months or years at a time. Others are abandoned by their parents at a young age and never get the chance to form a relationship with them. These children often (in order to escape the social services system), take to the streets hence the reason why we have so many street children living on the streets in South Africa. They usually resort to begging on street corners for money to survive – sometimes get hooked on drugs and buy drugs instead of food, some are picked up by pimps who entice them with money and material goods to work for them and others resort to crime (theft) as a means of survival.

Although all these traumatic experiences are very different, they all have one thing in common, they require resilience from the child to deal with it successfully. How does the child develop this resilience without a positive role-model in his/her life?

There are usually five common themes regarding positive influences in overcoming trauma, i.e.

1) Spirituality/faith in God (or in a higher power/being)
2) Supportive others
3) Therapeutic relationships
4) Self-determination
5) Expressive writing

SPIRITUALITY/FAITH IN GOD (HIGHER POWER/BEING):
For some, this is an important influence in rising above their traumatic experiences. They rely on their faith both during and after their traumatic experience(s). For others, it is the most important influence in dealing with their trauma. While some individuals prefer to pray on their own, many get involved in their church or place of worship and this helps them through their trauma. In the case of street children, those who knew their parent(s) even for a brief period, had some experience in going to a place of worship at some stage of their lives. Those who never knew their parents, are sometimes drawn to places of worship by watching people go there, by the singing/chanting or by mere curiosity and wanting to find out more. Some are even drawn to religion through soup kitchens or Sunday School activity.

SUPPORTIVE OTHERS:
For some, having at least one person they could turn to when they needed them is helpful. Some seek support from family, friends and other adults in the community. One issue relating to this avenue of seeking support is the rejection that many experience. This could lead to them not disclosing their abuse while others could feel forced to seek support elsewhere.

THERAPEUTIC RELATIONSHIPS:
Some seek help from a school counsellor or therapist during their childhood or as an adult. Some feel that therapy really helps them deal with their traumatic experience(s). There are those, however, who do not have positive experiences with therapy. Some feel that their counsellors minimise their traumatic experiences and some feel ignored by their counsellors or that what they have to share is not important. Some could possibly not feel connected or safe enough with their therapists to open up and discuss their experiences.

SELF DETERMINATION:
Some survive their experiences purely on their own self-determination to do so. Their own internal resources lead them to be resilient, healthy adults. The belief that they are strong enough to deal with their situation is what gets them through their traumatic experience(s).

EXPRESSIVE WRITING:
Some deal with trauma by writing down their feelings. They keep a written record of their ordeal and how they copied with it. Some write poetry and others keep a journal. Some initiate writing on their own, as a way to cope with their problems while others are instructed or advised to write by their therapists. This is usually a useful tool when it is too uncomfortable to share (verbalise) the experience with others.

Some people are able to display enormous courage and resilience in dealing with traumatic experiences and in their perception, manage to function as relatively psychologically healthy adults.

When it comes to research on trauma, focussing on the positive (self-determination) rather than the negative (psychopathology) outcomes of individuals who experienced childhood trauma, will direct research to areas that improve the quality of life of these individuals rather than research that focuses on their limitations.

What do you think?

A Daddy’s Letter to His Little Girl (About Her Future Husband)

Daddys Princess Animated

Dear Cutie-Pie,

Recently, your mother and I were searching for an answer on Google. Halfway through entering the question, Google returned a list of the most popular searches in the world. Perched at the top of the list was “How to keep him interested.”

It startled me. I scanned several of the countless articles about how to be sexy and sexual, when to bring him a beer versus a sandwich, and the ways to make him feel smart and superior. And I got angry.

Little One, it is not, has never been, and never will be your job to “keep him interested.”

Little One, your only task is to know deeply in your soul — in that unshakeable place that isn’t rattled by rejection and loss and ego — that you are worthy of interest. (If you can remember that everyone else is worthy of interest also, the battle of your life will be mostly won. But that is a letter for another day.)

If you can trust your worth in this way, you will be attractive in the most important sense of the word: you will attract a boy who is both capable of interest and who wants to spend his one life investing all of his interest in you.

Little One, I want to tell you about the boy who doesn’t need to be kept interested, because he knows you are interesting:

I don’t care if he puts his elbows on the dinner table — as long as he puts his eyes on the way your nose scrunches when you smile. And then can’t stop looking.

I don’t care if he can’t play a bit of golf with me — as long as he can play with the children you give him and revel in all the glorious and frustrating ways they are just like you.

I don’t care if he doesn’t follow his wallet — as long as he follows his heart and it always leads him back to you.

I don’t care if he is strong — as long as he gives you the space to exercise the strength that is in your heart.

I couldn’t care less how he votes — as long as he wakes up every morning and daily elects you to a place of honor in your home and a place of reverence in his heart.

I don’t care about the color of his skin — as long as he paints the canvas of your lives with brushstrokes of patience, and sacrifice, and vulnerability, and tenderness.

I don’t care if he was raised in this religion or that religion or no religion — as long as he was raised to value the sacred and to know every moment of life, and every moment of life with you, is deeply sacred.

In the end, Little One, if you stumble across a man like that and he and I have nothing else in common, we will have the most important thing in common:
You.

Because in the end, Little One, the only thing you should have to do to “keep him interested” is to be you.

Your eternally interested guy,
Daddy

——
This post is, of course, dedicated to my daughter, my Cutie-Pie. But I also want to dedicate it beyond her.

I wrote it for my wife, who has courageously held on to her sense of worth and has always held me accountable to being that kind of “boy.”

I wrote it for every grown woman I have met inside and outside of my therapy office — the women who have never known this voice of a Daddy.

And I wrote it for the generation of boys-becoming-men who need to be reminded of what is really important — my little girl finding a loving, lifelong companion is dependent upon at least one of you figuring this out. I’m praying for you.

——
This post originally appeared on http://www.DrKellyFlanagan.com

Teens – Be smart, use good judgement

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Have you ever considered why teenagers don’t think the way we (adults) do and why they do not realise the consequences of their actions like adults expect them to?

Adolescence/teenage years/puberty usually starts around 13 years of age up to around 18 years of age. This is the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. It is usually a time of changes of how teenagers think, feel and interact with others and how their bodies grow and develop into adulthood.

As adults, various parts of our brain work together to evaluate choices, make decisions and act accordingly in each situation. The prefrontal cortex is a section of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgements and controls impulses and emotions. This section of the brain also helps people understand one another and communicates with other sections of the brain through connections called synapses.

Scientists have found that teenagers experience a wealth of growth in synapses during adolescence. As the brain develops, it prunes away the synapses it doesn’t need to make the remaining ones more efficient in communicating. In teenagers, this process starts at the back of the brain and moves forward, so the prefrontal cortex, the vital centre of control, is the last to be developed. As the synapses are trimmed, an insulating substance called myelin coats the synapses to protect them.

For this reason, the prefrontal cortex is a little more immature in teenagers compared to adults; it may not fully develop until their mid 20s, and if the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, using the other brain structures would be difficult. Studies have shown that most of the mental energy teenagers’ use in making decisions is located at the back of the brain, whereas adults do most of their processing in the frontal lobes. When teenagers do use the frontal lobe, they tend to overdo it causing much more of the brain to get the job done than adults would, and because adults have already refined those communicating synapses, they can make decisions more rapidly.

Adult brains are also better equipped to notice errors in decision-making. An area of the teenagers’ brain that is fairly well developed at an early stage, is the nucleus accumbens – the area of the brain that seeks pleasure and reward. Now, what does an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex combined with a strong desire for pleasure and reward have to do with stereotypical teenage behaviour?

Hormones are largely responsible for what goes wrong in adolescence. Teenagers can seem like emotional time bombs, capable of exploding at any minute into tears or rage. Their behaviour is rebellious and risky and they seem to always be in trouble.

Part of communicating with teenagers may need the insight that they’re not necessarily hearing what you say. It is a combination of the prefrontal cortex and the heightened need for pleasure and reward that drives some of the most frustrating teenage behaviour. The undeveloped prefrontal cortex is unable to curb any impulsive behaviour so the potential for thrills outweighs the negative outcomes. Teenagers seek buzz to satisfy the reward centre in the brain, while their prefrontal cortex can’t register all the risks these actions entail. The teenage brain does not register delayed gratification – the appeal of fun is too strong.

On the other hand, risk taking may be a necessity for emotional growth and development. To leave the parental nest, teenagers need to be comfortable taking a few chances, otherwise they will never leave their rooms in their parents houses, but not being able to control the thrill-seeking impulses, can have devastating effects, especially when combined with smoking, drinking and drugs. This is also usually the time when teenagers start learning to drive a car and start engaging in sexual behaviour.

In the developing prefrontal cortex, synapses are selected based on whether they’re used or not, so behaviours that shape the brain are more likely to be maintained if started at this age. At this stage, the brain is acting like a sponge; it can soak up new information and change to make room for it, a concept known as plasticity. Plasticity can help teenagers pick up new skills.
Source: http://www.science.howstuffworks.com/life/teenage-brain1.htm

On the other hand, classifying people as adults at age 18 is technically incorrect because research has shown that the brain actually only completes development (matures) between the ages of 18 and 25 years. This includes the areas of impulse control, planning, reasoning, thinking before acting, the regulation of emotion, abstract thinking, resistance to peer influence and the ability to delay gratification. Maturity therefore needs to be decided on an individual basis.

It is therefore no surprise that teenagers are not capable of thinking and behaving like adults and expecting them to will set them up for failure.

So before you shout at your teenager for not listening to you, think about what has been said here and try to meet your teenager half-way.