January 24, 2015
Featured in: The Post Star
Story by: Michael Goot
SOUTH GLENS FALLS — South Glens Falls parent Amanda Clough found it harder to talk to one of her middle-school-age daughters. She just didn’t want to open up.
“Do you know what I did? I texted her. She didn’t want to talk to me face to face,” Clough said.
Her unorthodox method was one of the suggestions on how parents and teens can connect offered Wednesday at a forum about teen stress. The Parent University event was held at Oliver W. Winch Middle School.
Parent Shandra Hayes said teens and preteens are not mature enough to realize the relative importance of things like a relationship breakup or bad grade on one test.
“They don’t have the experience to know that this is going to pass,” she said.
However, teens said the adults have to recognize how important the issues of fitting in is to them.
“If you don’t validate your child’s feelings, they’re not going to want to talk to you,” said junior Sarah Bocchi.
High school special education teacher Tiffany Haig said adults and children’s priorities are just different.
“They may think picking out their outfit the night before is the biggest thing, ahead of studying,” said Haig, who is an adult leader for Sources of Strength, the school’s peer support group that helps other teens dealing with issues.
Eighth-grade guidance counselor Brian Mockry agreed students don’t see ahead.
“The student is living in the moment, even if they kind of want to look at the future,” he said.
Mockry said students may likely talk to someone their age group about a problem.
“I think they default to their peer group because they’re living it,” he said.
Junior Megan Wright said teenagers can have ridiculously busy lives and there is a push and pull between adults trying to do what is best for their children, who say the adults don’t understand them. Sometimes, adults just need to sit and listen.
“Let them vent for a little bit,” she said.
Freshman Brianna Harrington also said it is a good idea to have a different group of friends. For example, she played a sport outside school, so that gave her a whole different social network when she wanted to separate from school drama.
Other suggestions to burn off stress were listening to music, yoga, working out, drawing or other activities.
Another idea was to find another trusted adult to bounce things off of such as a coach or a teacher if they don’t want to talk to their parents. Sometimes, youths can tune out parents, according to English teacher Shannon Fagle-Fedele, another adult leader of Share Our Strength.
“When adults tell children how to behave, we turn into that Peanuts teacher,” she said, referring to the horn sound in the cartoon.
Pierre Zimmerman, director of One Big Roof sanctuary, offered some relaxation techniques. He urged people to take a brief moment out of their day for quiet, which he demonstrated by having the audience sit still while he told them to reflect on their lives.
He offered the acronym of STOP. The S and T stand for Stop and Take a deep breath, Zimmerman said, meaning not to react to the situation right away. The O means open up to what’s going on inside you and the P is Proceed thereafter.
“It gives us a little bit of time to pause between stimuli and response,” he said.
Clough said the event was beneficial.
“I think we all need to have conservations as much as possible with our kids,” she said.
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