Written by Sarah Nowack, DMS 5th Grade Teacher
I just finished reading a book that I want to tell you all about. To be fair, it is really a parenting book, but anyone that works with pre-teens/teens should really read it! With an original copyright of 1981 (yikes, I wasn’t even yet a teen), it isn’t a new book, but the information is still very relevant (maybe some of you have already read this?): How to Really Love your Teen by Dr. Ross Campbell, MD.
Dr. Campbell’s writing is very easy to read; it feels as though you are having a casual conversation with him about your respective children.
Why should you read this book? Well, while we are teachers of these children, not their parents, we do spend 8 hours a day with them, and we all know that if a child feels safe and cared for (loved) he/she is much more open to learning (and willing to work for us). According to Dr. Campbell, evidence indicates that the home has the strongest influence in determining how happy, secure, & stable a child is. Since we know that many of our DMS students have “rough” home lives, it may be up to us to provide the loving structure and support that they need.
A first thought: teens are children in transition. They are not yet adults, yet we tend to treat them like junior adults; they are still children. Despite their apathetic attitudes, obnoxious behaviors, and tendencies to push adults away, teens have very childlike needs such as feeling loved and accepted, being taken care of, and knowing- with certainty- that someone really cares for them.
We (me especially) need to give students “focused attention.” Often we are doing three things at one time; yet when a student wants to tell you something, listen- REALLY LISTEN. Give them eye contact, stop what you were doing, and give them your focused attention.
Dr. Campbell also addresses teenage anger. Anger is normal for everyone; the problem lies in how to manage and deal with anger. Our kids don’t instinctively know how to solve algebraic expressions or write well-constructed informational reports- we teach them. So guess what? Teens need to be taught how to understand their anger and then how to manage it and express.
Chapter 9 could be the most important for us as educators: Adolescent Depression. There are many levels of severity of depression, but we need to learn to recognize the array of symptoms, which alone do not indicate depression, but combined could be a sign of a child who is truly suffering. Shortened attention span, daydreaming, poor grades, boredom, somatic depression, and withdrawal are all signs of mild to increasing depression in adolescents.
While the topic of depression is pretty heavy, the book, How to Really Love Your Teen, is an easy read that is an excellent resource for all teachers of pre-teens/teens. I highly suggest it!
I am willing to loan out my copy; let me know if you would like to borrow it.
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