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Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)

As author Mike Ferry points out, adolescents today experience alarming rates of depression and stress. He shares five ways parents can help their teen be happier. We present, “Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier.”

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Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)Pimples. Hormonal changes. Emotional extremes. Argumentativeness. Romantic relationships. If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you may be living through these and other aspects of the teen years. It’s a period of great upheaval, for kids and parents (not to mention the teachers who never escape the drama of middle and high school).

Stress, anxiety and depression

Adolescence has always been hard, but today’s teens are having an especially difficult time. For a variety of reasons, teens are suffering from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. Consider this statistic:

17% of high school students seriously consider suicide (22.4% of girls)

That’s unbelievable! Unfortunately, the trend continues into the college years:

54% of college students have extreme anxiety
30% of college students suffer from severe depression

As parents, there are some strategies we can employ to help our teenage children endure this rough patch and emerge stronger in young adulthood. We can practice these “protective factors” at home to boost our kids’ emotional immune systems.

Five Things Parents Can Do

Here are five ways to make teens happier and to promote long-term positive mental health.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry(1) Have a consistent home or family routine. I know how tough this can be. My wife and I have four kids; managing their sports schedules and social calendars seems harder than running a federal agency. If possible, try to have at least one family meal per week. You could also plan a family game night once a month and make it clear that nothing will take priority over it.

(2) Promote healthy habits. Our physical health impacts our emotional health. Encourage plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is often sacrificed due to homework and hanging out with friends, but it is an essential aspect of sound mental health. Do all you can to help your teen get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night.

(3) Practice spirituality. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Spirituality offers emotional support and guidance, in addition to a sense of purpose. If your family actively practices religion, help your teen grow in the faith by attending services on a regular basis. Getting involved with your religious community’s youth group strengthens social bonds and creates shared experiences that can sustain your teen in difficult times.

(4) Boost confidence. Many teens suffer from negative self-esteem. This may result from poor body image, stressful social interactions, or feeling inadequate in some way. You can help your teen feel more confident by celebrating his or her victories, large and small. Show your teen that effort leads to results, and that he or she has the power to achieve success in a variety of areas. For more ideas, you can check out my blog post on ways to develop a growth mindset in your child.

(5) Know what’s going on. Monitor your teen’s activities, both in the “real world” and online. Take a peek every now and then at your son or daughter’s social media profiles. Invite your teen’s friends to your house to hang out. Stay in touch with how your child is doing at school and beyond. Often, troubling emotional situations can be avoided by proactive and positive parenting.

Hang in there, parents of teens! It’s a wild and unpredictable ride, but it will be over before you know it. Your child will grow up and leave the nest (hopefully) with the tools needed for academic and personal success. With a great deal of patience and care, we can get our teens on track for stronger mental health in the present and down the road. If you’re interested in learning more ways to guide your teenage child through this tumultuous time, you may want to check out my online course, “The Parent’s Guide To Surviving Adolescence.”

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven Ways of Teaching Happiness to Your Kids (Mike Ferry)

Happiness is the “Holy Grail” of parenting. While all of us want our kids to be happy and successful in life, we may not know exactly how to achieve this goal. Fortunately, the “science of happiness” can show us the way to teaching happiness.

teaching happiness, science of happinessYears of research have revealed certain habits and beliefs that make us happier, more creative, and more effective in everything we do. Rather than waiting and hoping that emotional well-being will descend from the heavens, we can show our children how to forge happy lives.

Since learning about this branch of psychology, I have been on a mission to share this knowledge with parents. I wrote a book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, to help parents identify the habits of happiness and teach them to their kids. We are all thirsting for guidance in this department, and I hope that my efforts make a difference.

teaching happiness, science of happinessI’d like to give you seven ways to point your children towards lives of joy and meaning. These ideas come from my free 21-day “Happy Family” challenge. As is the case in other areas of life, practice makes perfect if you want to form the habits of happiness!

1. Write down the names of three people, places, or things you are grateful for. If you want to learn more about the importance of gratitude, please sign up for my email list. As a thank-you gift, you can download the “Gratitude” chapter from my book for free.

2. Spend some time in quiet prayer or meditation. Nurturing our spirituality is an important aspect of happiness.

3. We feel better when we are creative and thoughtful. Create and send a homemade card to Grandma, Grandpa, or another special person in your family’s life.

4. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Do you know the countries of Europe? If not, start learning them here.

5. Combine these five words to form a short story. If your story is hilarious and unrealistic, that’s just fine.

Miami
Santa
Banana
Anteater
Wagon

6. Think about a time when someone was kind to you. Give yourself a quiet space to reflect on this happy memory.

7. Bake cookies for a neighbor. When you deliver them, talk about the fun you’ve been having with the “Happy Family” challenge! Maybe your neighbor will enjoy the experience as well.###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

February 25, 2016 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Being Thankful … and Tecumseh

“When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.” Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief

I was pouring through my collection of quotes this morning and this one came to my attention. I believe what Chief Tecumseh said is not only true and a standard to live by, it’s something we must pass on to our children.

If we cannot express gratitude, we will sour from the inside out. If happiness is a worthwhile state (it could never be a goal, lest we lose it in the capture), much of that state relies on being truly thankful.

Have you ever met someone who was too bitter to be thankful for anything? My guess is you didn’t really want to spend much time in their presence. Besides, bitterness is quite contagious.

On a personal level just the name “Tecumseh” brings a smile to my face. My parents were raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Although my sister and I grew up in Texas, and live there still, Shawnee was a very special place … Grandma’s. Anyone who knows the area knows that, when you come from the south on 177 (through Stratford and Asher), Tecumseh is just a few miles from Shawnee.

Tecumseh was near the end of our journey at Christmas and on summer vacations, a sure sign that Grandma was but moments away. I’d have to say that, in those days, I knew more about WHERE Tecumseh was than WHO he was.

But either way, the gratitude is still there.

James Sutton, Psychologist   www.docspeak.com

   

January 12, 2008 Posted by | adversity, family, Humor, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Two-duck Thanksgiving

I don’t recall eating turkey for Thanksgiving as a kid. Our family was pretty small: just Mom, Dad, Sis and me. Mom would always buy a large chicken hen, then she would prepare it like a turkey.

It was always like that for as long as I could remember because we had that meal to ourselves. Dad would be off for the day, of course, and it was family time–very precious family time.

(Christmas was much different. We’d pile in the old Chevy and go to Grandma’s in Oklahoma, where there was always PLENTY of family. Grandma lived in a small duplex, so there were kids sleeping on the floor all over the place. One bathroom, too; I don’t know how we survived the holidays. But we did.) 

One Thanksgiving stands out in my mind. It was the time Dad brought home two ducks for Thanskgiving dinner. Someone at work had gone duck hunting and shared the bounty.

These weren’t dressed ducks; they arrived feathers and all, wrapped up in newspaper. I was spellbound watching my father remove the feathers and prepare the ducks for the stuffing and roasting.

My sister and I EACH had a wishbone that year. Pretty cool.

The most important thing about those small Thanksgiving gatherings was the coming together of our family with love and gratitude in our thoughts and hearts. Obviously, that kind of family tradition and closeness is still around, but there also seems to be so much so much more around to distract us from both family and thankfulness.

Our children need generous helpings of both. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

PS: My blog, “Five Kernels of Corn-The Thanksgiving Story,” has received a ton of hits, and I’m at a loss as to why. But it was neat to see it. It would make a great story to read before you dive into the turkey on Thursday. Blessings.

 James Sutton, Psychologist   www.docspeak

November 16, 2007 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment