• Jenny Barnes

Young people need more social than media…

Informing their formative years…

As a parent or a teacher, it is all too easy to look back on your own teenage years and play down the experience. For most, the confusion, angst, experimentation and brushes with the wrong side of right were no more than the normal passage of 8 years old into your early 20s. Others, however, battled through traumas of a far more serious kind and became subject to circumstances that would deeply affect their forever after.

Whatever the details of your journey into adulthood, the reality is that we were all shaped by it, changed by it, and are the people we became because of large elements of how it treated us. For better or worse, our formative years almost certainly moulded us more than we remember.

The information age takes teenage life to another level

What no one born before 1995 will have are childhood memories of are concepts like cyber-bullying, peer pressure on a 24/7 scale, and the ever-present need to be ‘liked’. Surely, the information age is forcing today’s children to grow up faster than ever before. The question is – how well equipped are we to handle their situations?

Of course, teenagers have always been teenagers, and despite today’s technological landscape the majority will find a way through no matter what the playing field presents. But what about the quiet ones, the brave faces and those who will harbour hurt for years? How well equipped are you to recognise the symptoms, unlock the conversation and apply a listening ear to the solution?

Anxiety, losing sleep, skipping school, and sticking to their room are all signs of a teenager in trouble. These early warnings, and many others besides, have not changed in decades – it is just that the pressures that cause and enhance them are far greater than ever before. Social media, SATs, looking good, fitting in, phone addictions and digital isolation are just some of the causes – and most parents and teachers, simply do not understand.

What can you do?

The truth is that the issues facing today's 8 to 20-year olds are not all that different to the ones faced by the parents and teachers who want the best for them. But the rules for this generation have changed and the high-tech influences have turned the problem up tenfold.

One thing that has not changed is that children will rarely talk to their parents as the first port of call. The tragic fact is that those who love them the most are usually the last to know. And that is only when the problems erupt – or worse. Teachers present a better option, but even the most emotionally attuned are juggling their own life pressures and the best will in the world cannot create any more time.

As you may have read in my previous blog post, I am now turning my attention, experience and learning towards this ‘oh so’ important group of people. They are our future and they need our hearts and understanding today. Since the term ‘teenager’ was first associated with a slammed bedroom door the answer has always been the same. Introduce them to a highly trained, independent ear, who won’t judge – but listens, and who won’t budge – just stay the course and make a difference.

If you know a teenager in need of some support, or parents and teachers at the end of their tether – get in touch and find out more about what I do…

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