26 Apr Raising Resilient Teens Mindfully Part 1
The Harvard-Westlake Mindfulness Club recently hosted an insightful event called “Raising Resilient Teens Mindfully,” led by Brian Shier, and I found myself deeply moved by the wisdom shared.
We explored the concepts of attachment, authenticity, self-worth, and self-esteem, seeking to better understand the challenges our teens face and how we, as parents, can support them on their path toward resilience.
Adolescence is a period characterized by significant physiological, neurobiological, and identity changes. Teens often struggle with the classical developmental challenge of identity, seeking to answer questions such as “Who am I?” and “Do I belong?”.
The challenges teens face are not simply a result of hormones but are linked to evolutionary brain changes. Teens search for self-esteem and self-worth, driven by the fundamental biological need for tribalism. Historically, bonding with peers and being accepted and included within a group was essential for survival. This tribalism helped teens to bond, innovate, and develop the skills necessary to take over as elders died off.
Today, physical survival is less of an issue for most teens, but social survival has become increasingly important. The challenges of adolescence can be seen as opportunities if we understand teens’ need for dual belonging – to their family and to their peers. Teens derive their self-esteem from acceptance by their peers, academic performance, and the depth of intimacy in their relationships.
However, modern teens face a mental health crisis.
Brian introduced us to a thought-provoking video by Gabor Maté, a psychiatrist and trauma expert who highlights the conflict between attachment and authenticity in children. Watch the video here:
Attachment is the fundamental need for connection, love, and belonging, while authenticity is the ability to express oneself and be in touch with one’s emotions. When a child perceives that authenticity will lead to rejection, they may suppress their emotions and lose touch with their true selves.
This suppression can result in long-lasting issues such as addiction, mental illness, or physical illnesses. To support adolescent resilience, it is crucial to recognize this conflict and help teens balance their need for attachment and authenticity, enabling them to navigate the challenges of adolescence and develop into healthy, self-assured adults.
Authenticity, the genuine expression of who they are – their true selves – is the ability to be in touch with one’s emotions and aspirations. It’s the core of their identity, the essence that makes them unique and special.
Authenticity allows our teens to embrace their feelings, passions, and aspirations without fear of judgment or rejection.
When the fear of losing attachment casts its shadow, our teens may suppress their authenticity, disconnecting from their true selves and hindering their emotional growth.
As parents, we need to be mindful of this conflict. By providing a nurturing environment where teens feel secure in expressing themselves, we can help them balance their need for attachment and authenticity, fostering resilience and emotional well-being.
Understanding the harmony between attachment and authenticity is the key to fostering resilience in our teens.
As parents, when we create an environment that encourages open communication and emotional expression, we can help them navigate the challenges with grace and confidence.
Authenticity is the greatest form of courage; let’s create an environment where our teens feel safe to express their true selves.
SELF-WORTH & SELF-ESTEEM
Equally important in nurturing resilience is the cultivation of self-worth and self-esteem.
Self-worth is the inner understanding of one’s own intrinsic value, the belief that they are deserving of love, respect, and kindness. It is the foundation upon which a resilient spirit is built, allowing our teens to weather the storms of life with courage and determination.
Self-esteem, on the other hand, is the confidence in their abilities and qualities. It is the outward expression of their self-worth, the reassurance that they possess the capabilities and strengths needed to face life’s challenges. When self-esteem and self-worth are nurtured and strengthened, our teens are better equipped to tackle life’s difficulties with resilience and optimism.
As parents, we can support our teens in building self-worth and self-esteem by offering unconditional love, empathy, and understanding. Encourage them to explore their passions and interests, allowing them to discover and develop their unique gifts.
Celebrate their successes, big or small, and remind them of their strengths when they face struggles.
Furthermore, it is crucial that we model the qualities we wish to instill in our children.
Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion in our own lives serves as a powerful example for our teens, showing them that it is possible to navigate life’s challenges with grace and resilience.
By equipping our teens with these skills, we empower them to manage their emotions effectively and respond to life’s challenges with a balanced, resilient mindset.
I invite you to join us for Part 2 of Raising Resilient Teens Mindfully with Brian Shiers on May 12th at 9 a.m. on Zoom.
This workshop will offer us the opportunity to delve deeper into the concepts of resilience, attachment, authenticity, dialectical behavior therapy, self-worth, and self-esteem, and learn how to better support our teens in this ever-changing world.
Together, let’s embark on this journey of understanding and nurturing our teens as they face life’s challenges.
By providing ourselves and our teens with the tools and support we need, we can help ourselves and our teens grow into strong, resilient individuals who can confidently navigate the complexities of life.
All my best,