Keeping our kids safe – the adolescent brain

_49861691_t300484-mobile_phone_use-splHere on ‘let’s talk!’ we are committed to bringing you news and views on the challenges young people face as the move towards adulthood.

Our under 11s are taught about ‘stranger danger’, have their first lessons about sexuality and begin to take their first, independent trips to shops, school etc. Essentially however, they are still ‘ours’ and more ready to accept the boundaries we place on them as parents.

As children become teenagers these rules are there to be tested and boundaries challenged. Research suggests the changes in behaviour are not simply ‘raging hormones’ but due to profound changes in the young adult brain, and if that is the case, ensuring the safety net is there for them when temptations and peer pressure bombard them from all sides becomes ever more important. Behaviour an adult sees as irrational won’t strike a young person as such and that leads to challenges in the home, as the ‘you think you know everything’/ ‘you just don’t understand’ arguments become toxic and ultimately lead nowhere.

We have written on here before of the peer pressure of ‘neknomination’ and substance misuse, as well as the dangers of ‘sexting‘. Since then we have found out as much as we can; understanding the dangerous craze of using nitrous oxide and other so-called ‘legal highs’; the use of e-cigarettes; the dangers of on-line grooming by paedophiles. For parents these are terrifying issues to face, and to discuss with our children without the seemingly inevitable clashes.

Communication is key, and we have therapists here with expert knowledge of the best ways to ensure healthy relationships with our kids. However, there are steps you can take before mediation and therapy become necessary.

We have a booklist on localbookshops.co.uk and are seeking recommendations from readers of this blog. We have heard recently of the book ‘Brainstorm:The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, written
by Daniel Siegel. He talks about the book in the video below. It is a long piece but fascinating. He explores exciting ways ‘in which understanding how the teenage brain functions can help parents make what is in fact an incredibly positive period of growth, change, and experimentation in their children’s lives less lonely and distressing on both sides of the generational divide’.

Have you read a book that has really helped you retain a loving bond with the young adults in your family? Are you a professional with a bookshelf full of fascinating and accessible studies of teenage behaviour? Are you a teen with a book that tells you how to manage your relationships without conflict?

Do let us know by commenting here, or on our Facebook page or our twitter account, @terraceclinic.

 

 

Taking time out; taking charge

jk_timeout2Sometimes one wonders how we ever managed without social media. The new contacts we make; the opportunities to share our experience and to tell the world about things that are important to us; the learning experience and access to information that keeps us up to date with what is going on in the world and the speed with which this can be achieved – it is nothing short of a revolution.

But with the revolution must come the revelation – that we must ensure we make time for ourselves and to take charge of our involvement on the world wide web, rather than letting it take control of us. Twitter, Facebook, blogging etc etc can all become addictive. We fear we will miss something on one or other of our timelines. Perhaps, if we don’t post anything for a few days, people will think we have given up or gone out of business. Companies who write on using social media stress how much, how often and when you should post. God forbid you miss the right time slot, when all your potential readers are online!

Of course it doesn’t have to be like this, and more and more people and businesses are recognising that this 24/7 availability can be draining, and counter-productive. You must engage and offer people something they want to read – how can you do that when it becomes harder and harder and keep up with this mad virtual social whirl?

So here at The Terrace we are giving ourselves some ‘time out’. We will be quiet for a while, recharging, restoring and replenishing our stores of energy. A two week break is all we need to ensure we are here to offer interesting insights and content over the summer months. There are exciting things to talk about on our return, featuring film, poetry and reports on our well-being and mindfulness sessions and we will continue with our determination to highlight the dangers to our children and young people, and FGM. We appreciate those who read our blog and want to make sure our posts are informative and interesting.

Do let us know how and when you have ‘taken a break’ from social media. Many more are taking a break and taking charge and perhaps it is an option we should all consider.

More poetry for mindfulness: Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

DE_20120613_PI_retarus_quiet_time_screenWhy do we find it so hard to be, simply, still? Here at The Terrace we are lucky enough to have an expert mindfulness practitioner, Miranda Bevis. Her experiences have been immensely positive, both personally and professionally and she is keen to share the  life enhancing nature of mindfulness, which is now being taken up as an effective therapeutic tool by practitioners in the National Health Service.

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It is something that has to be worked at, but it is incredibly powerful as a way to manage the ever-increasing pace of life in the 21st century and to cope with personal life challenges.

Sometimes, the practice of mindfulness is easier to describe by illustration, using poetry to distill the essence of what it means to be ‘still’. We have tried to do this before on ‘let’s talk’ and the poem we chose then, by Wendell Berry , got a huge, positive response. So here is another favourite, by the Nobel prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. In Keeping Quiet,  Neruda asks the reader to stop, take time out from the frenetic pace of life and make time for silence. In that quiet time we can reflect on our lives, and stop being so  ‘single-minded/about keeping our lives moving/and for once could do nothing’ . It isn’t simple inactivity, it is a time to connect with ourselves, and with the earth. In doing so we can return to our routines with energy and with an appreciation of our lives and the impact of our actions.

Keeping Quiet
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Do you have any favourite poems which you use to help you reflect on life and which offers you the chance to be still and take time out for yourself, alone? We would love to hear your suggestions, and to hear what you think of this poem. It will take more than one reading, but we do hope it will offer you food for thought.

Miranda Bevis offers regular mindfulness taster sessions here at The Terrace. The next available slots are on the 13th and 14th of May 2014. See our website for more details.