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Supporting Your Child’s Resilience

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Presentation on theme: "Supporting Your Child’s Resilience"— Presentation transcript:

1 Supporting Your Child’s Resilience
Terrible, Troubled, Tempestuous but… Terrific Teen Years Dr. Ursula Steele, Sue Govier, Sandra Fowler-Brown

2 Myths About Teenagers What do you feel like when you have to go through a group of teenagers standing in front of the entrance to a high school? What do you hear relatives, friends and colleagues say about teenagers? What kinds of fears do you have as your son or daughter enters the teen years? Do you believe you are less important to your child at this age? What we anticipate governs our actions and shapes our reality.

3 Anatomy of the Brain Thickening of the gray matter or the hardwiring of the brain generally moves from the back to the front as we age. Increased nerve fiber insulation during adolescence gradually allows for faster signaling of reception & responses. Pruning takes place to eliminate underused or weak synapses and refines the strong ones. During adolescence the areas of focus in the brain are: Frontal Lobe: planning, reasoning, movement, emotions (Limbic System) Corpus Callosum: signal connection between hemispheres Cerebellum: Learned physical skills, coordination Right click, click open hyperlink

4 Brain Growth Between 5-20 yrs
Gray Matter ↓ As Synapses are Pruned

5 Moral Development The previous slides show how the layer in the brain, related to moral development, changes dramatically during the teen years. This time offers a huge opportunity to influence the moral development of teens. A study by Hill and Swanson (1993) concluded that the more the adolescents they studied thought about their decisions related to morality, the more moral they became and the less they were involved in risk taking behavior

6 Implications for Parents
Important topics such as sexuality, and morality should be discussed before they reach adolescence Talk often and talk every day whenever possible. Have them talk about moral issues with you and respect them when they give you even a contradictory opinion Provide positive feedback that counters the images that media suggests Learn about the dangers of media together and become positive and aware consumers Make sure that they get adequate sleep and nutrition and have regular medical checkups and model this yourself Accept personal feelings and let them know you love them even when they are being rude. Stay involved by making your place the hangout for your teen and your teenager’s friends. Get to know the parents of their friends well and keep in touch when it comes to parties or outings.

7 Alternate Peer Groups Give your child as many alternate peer groups as possible so that the peers at school do not become the prime source of relationships for them. This gives the group at school far too much power. Eliminate the language around best friends. “Best” means that it is more than the “rest,” and again far too powerful Have your child connect with church groups, sports groups, hobby groups, interest groups. Try to have your child connect with more than one adult role model through mentorship

8 Being Forgetful Scenario
Taking a phone message and forgetting to tell you. Why are they so forgetful? Sleep deprivation plays a role. Hormonal and chemical reactions are fluctuating and therefore are not balanced as effectively as most adults, leading to forgetfulness. The frontal cortex processes information and by this age is receiving more information then its development can handle. Neurons are still being pruned or fine tuned to accelerate this process. How as a parent can you help with this pruning? What to do: Consistently ask if there were any messages Positively model (several times) where to write messages by the phone. These are just a few ways to help prune their brain.

9 Taking Risks Why do teenagers take more risks? What to do:
Risk isn’t always bad; in fact, human development would be impossible without it. Our first baby steps were a risk. Experimenting with recreational drugs at this age is very real. It can come from the desire to try something new or even pressure from peers. Why do teenagers take more risks? In adolescence there are still developmental gaps in the brain connections of what young people rationally know and what knowledge they actually use in making decisions. Being inexperienced in handling new situations like this can lead to poor choices because the brain is still developing in this area. They need to be taught. What to do: Talking it over beforehand with people adolescents trust, help teens to understand situations more thoroughly. Strong mentors for adolescents could be, parents, relatives, family friends and teachers. Science has found these positive connections and meaningful discussions prior to risky situations help influence teen decisions.

10 Why is my teenager so moody?
Dramatic mood fluctuations are related to hormonal changes and chemical reactions in the brain during puberty The frontal cortex has an unexpected growth spurt before puberty which can explain some mood swings. Teenagers are still developing social skills; they don’t always see someone else’s point of view nor are they always able to predict the consequences of their actions Teenagers are often sleep deprived The Good News! Research shows that the continued development and maturation of the frontal cortex during adolescence does help in regulating moods, solving problems and in the development of more thoughtful behavior Mood Swings do settle down after puberty, when the hormones are more regulated In the meantime… talk, listen and be understanding, your teenager needs the support and ensure your teenager gets enough sleep!

11 Community Supports What support is there for your teenager during these often difficult times? (These are just a few) Social Service Organizations 1) Alberta Mental Health Help Line (24 hrs) counseling 2) Canadian Mental Health Association (S.E. location) or S.W. location) recreation, education and social support 3) Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary youth mentorship, recreational opportunities, camps. 4)Big Brothers and Big Sisters youth mentorship 5) Calgary Family Services group programs for parents/teens,counseling 6) YouthLink Calgary Calgary Police Interpretive Centre

12 The Importance of Mentors
Mentors are concerned, caring adults (young and old) They offer support, guidance, encouragement Mentors make connections with teenagers “You are important and I care what happens to you.” Research indicates that for students who are academically at risk, mentors can make a difference Brings the larger community into the picture Mentorship opportunities in Calgary 1.Alberta Women's Science Network(teacher to student) 2. Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary 3.Big Brothers and Big Sisters

13 How Does Sleep Impact Learning?
Sleep deprivation impairs memory and inhibits creativity Lack of sleep makes it harder to deal with stress and control emotion Depression can result from chronic sleep deprivation Immune systems are more susceptible to serious illnesses Judgement can become impaired What does research tell us and what can we do? Research shows: that our brain consolidates and practices what we’ve learned during the day and after sleep We learn while we sleep and remember things more easily after a good sleep In adolescence our internal body clock slows down, but we can be adjusted with regular bedtimes. Teenagers need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep but get on average six and a half Helpful Sleep Tips: We can establish effective sleep hygiene tips such as: stay away from stimulants after noon, avoid heavy studying or activity before bed, turn off computers and tv’s in the bedroom, establish a reasonable schedule for your teenager, allow sleeping in on the weekend, but not more than 2-3 hrs. later than their usual waking time

14 Questions and Feedback Please send your questions and comments about this presentation to the Stanley Jones Mailbox at

15 *Slide 4: NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health (2004, May 18).
References *Slide 4: NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health (2004, May 18). Imaging Study Shows Brain maturing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 8, 2008, NIH/National Institute Of Mental Health (2004, May 18).

16 It takes two to speak the truth,-
one to speak and another to hear. Henry David Thoreau

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