The follwing post comes courtest of Lisa Graham Keegan, member of our National Advisory Board and education advocate.
As summer begins to wane, and the new school year approaches, we parents feel conflicted. While the advertisement that has the father skipping through aisles of school supplies singing “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” may not feel exactly right…it does resonate, especially if we are parenting adolescents.
If it's any consolation, your child feels the same way. And that is a good thing.
For young people around the ages of 12 to 15, the pull to separate from families and be with new friends becomes very strong. And that pull is not only the result of cultural norms. Our children's drive to leave our homes and immerse themselves into the lives of their friends has a biological basis. It is driven largely by their developing brains.
Neurological studies have disclosed that a person's drive to experience what they call a “neural buzz”, sort of a “high” produced by novel experience, peaks around age 15. It explains a lot.
Because so much of our job is to keep our children from harm, most of us probably read that news about “buzz seeking” and just want to get our kids safely past this stage. It is without question a time that can lead to risky behavior such a drug and alcohol experimentation. But the drive to experience novel sensations and to conquer the fear of the unknown is actually something your child could not survive without.
Wanting to experience new and unfamiliar surroundings is what drives us to leave the confines of a very secure home and family in order to seek out new people and new experiences. It is critical for parents to remember that there is as much “buzz” to be had in making new friends, joining a new sports team, or spending time in community projects as there is in dangerous behavior.
The key factor is that kids this age are driven to experience novelty and conquer their fear of it.
So there is a bit of irony here. The more we shelter our children, confining them to spaces they already understand how to navigate, the more we bump heads as teens look to achieve the “neural buzz” they seek. Keeping a child “safe” at home might be a serious risk. Instead, think of new and challenging experiences for your child as something that will feed a serious need.
Make sure you are consistently providing your adolescent with more and more independence, encouraging them into activities that will be at least slightly unsettling. Conquering the fear of the unknown in constructive ways, over and over again, will mean there is far less need to seek novel sensation in dangerous settings. And of course, make sure you talk with your kids early and often about the risks and consequences of underage drinking.
So enjoy these last lazy days of summer, and get ready to immerse your child in the unknown. It's a life saver for everybody!More > 0 Comments
We are back from our trip to London with the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy's “Choose to Matter” contest winners. It was a whirlwind tour, to say the least. We started off the adventure at the women's soccer final- witnessing the historic USA win over Japan. In the following days, we saw track and volleyball events, ate lunch at the USA House, toured Wembley stadium and the Olympic Village, played soccer with Mia Hamm, and saw every great landmark in London.
Thank you to Julie Foudy and McDonald's for making this contest possible!More > 0 Comments
The following post is via Rebecca Perzanowski, School Nurse at the FAIR School in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I have been a school nurse for 7 years. I have the privilege of working with over a thousand Kindergarten through 12th graders in urban and suburban schools. Before becoming a school nurse I worked as a nurse in a few children's hospitals. I enjoyed working with children and their families but these families were in crisis. This limited their ability to learn about their illness or condition and limited my ability to teach them about living a full life with these conditions. It dawned on me that School Nursing was the ideal opportunity to work with children and families in a learning environment and where I could assist them to realize their healthy lives with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, or severe allergies.
I went into school nursing with the intention of teaching children and families about living with chronic conditions. In return I have learned so many things from staff, teachers, families and kids. All children can benefit from learning about healthy living and prevention, not just the students with chronic health concerns. I try to use even my briefest encounters with my students to teach. I talk a lot about choices because in the end it is up to them. Choosing to eat breakfast could help a student with headaches and with learning. Choosing to avoid the recess game of football could help them heal from their ankle injury and prevent other injuries. Choosing not to drink alcohol should be part of their healthy lifestyle.
One of the most valuable things I have learned is how to listen to my students. The child may be talking about headaches or stomachaches but what they are really experiencing is anxiety. This is a time when teaching really presents itself. I would advise all parents and teachers to be aware of these opportunities, too. Listen beyond their words to their experiences and then use the opportunity to discuss healthy living and positive choices. Children are amazing and I know parents and teachers will find these moments of listening and sharing as rewarding as I do.More > 0 Comments
Like most folks, everyone here at The Century Council has been keeping up with the Olympic Games each night. For that reason, we're excited to send our own Tyler Allen to the final 3 days of the Games to document the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy “Choose to Matter” contest winners.
The 4 young women heading to London are the winners of the Julie Foudy Leadership Academy's 'Choose to Matter' contest. Sponsored by The Century Council in conjunction with McDonald's, this Contest was held to empower young female athletes to choose to make a difference in the lives and communities around them through instilling entrepreneurship, leadership skills and a sense of civic responsibility. Over 60,000 voters picked these 4 women's projects. We're happy to join them and their parents to London.
While in London, the girls have a packed schedule that includes the Women's Soccer final game, traveling around London, riding the London eye, and touring Earl's Court and the Olympic Village.
Tyler will be video blogging, tweeting from @JFoudySLA and @AskListenLearn and taking instagram pictures under “JulieFoudySLA” to share on JFSLA's Facebook. There will also be daily blogs on her website and posts on Huffington Post Teen. We hope you'll follow along.More > 0 Comments