Teen Challenge – Back to School and Virtual Learning

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog, the Tuesday Morning edition!

How was your last week? Did you get a chance to touch base with that teen in your life yet?

This week may be the last week of summer for teens who are heading back school after Labor Day. For some teens, schools are already back in session. How are things going?

There are so many different looks to going back to school this year. Are we all virtual? Are we doing a hi-bred model where it is virtual and in person part of the time? With those teens who are physically going back into the school building for classes, are masks going to be the new fashion statement? Or, the new thing kids can be teased about?

Masks from Shop Disney

Some virtual learning has already been happening with online testing and classes. It has its advantages. Just like working from home, there’s no commute, except from your bed to your desk or table, hopefully with a shower and getting dressed on your way there. A little extra time in bed and maybe more casual dress code. For now, it’s a step we are taking to help keep us safe from spread of COVID-19. However, is it the best learning environment for our teens?

For teens who have grown up with a phone in their hand and technology at their fingertips, they will have no problem with the hard skills (technology) involved in virtual learning. They are probably more savvy than some adults with setting up the computer and logging on. Keeping them engaged in the learning process and creating good interpersonal interactions, or soft skills, while sitting at a desk or table at home may be a challenge. It can even be a challenge when they are sitting in classrooms at school. But, a lot of the school experience is found in the comradery with your classmates day to day. Eating lunch and attending sporting events with them. Sure, you can do kind of the same thing online, but it’s just not the same.

Virtual learning is also affecting teachers. Sure, they can log onto a computer and teach from their home office, but physically being in the classroom with their students helps them to pick up on nuances in their students’ behavior. Are they are understanding the lesson? Or are they bored? Students are also able to pick up on things in the white noise of their classroom and through having more interaction with teachers and other students. We know, virtual learning is being done for safety reasons to curb the spread COVID-19, but it may have consequences that are yet to be seen.

I think the biggest thing that will be affected by virtual learning is the slower development of teen soft skills. We talk a lot about these in business circles, but they are personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people. Remember all of the concerns we had with teens being so attached to their smart phones and possibly missing out on personal interactions to communicate with others? And how afraid we were of them not being able to communicate with others interpersonally? Now with virtual learning and teens not being in the class room, are we perpetuating their continual learning to interact better with a computer or a phone and not so well with other people? Let me know your thoughts.

One of the challenges of virtual learning is how do we engage teens to read things that are good for them to read? I have a good coming of age novel which talks about the teen challenges of peer pressure and the importance of choosing the right friends. How about picking up an ebook copy of my first book, The Hard Way. Follow this link to get a copy for you or your teen. The Hard Way It is free if you subscrible to Kindle Unlimited on Amazon. My second book, Shawn’s Way, is due to come out just before the holidays. Be sure to keep an eye out for it!

What challenges do you see and face with virtual learning and back to school tasks this year? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Are your teens talking about their challenges?

Good Morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog.

How was your week? Mine was busy but good. I spent part of it working on business and writing goals. It’s amazing how important your mindset is to getting things accomplished and achieving the goals you set for yourself. My dream has been to become a best-selling novelist. It will happen someday I don’t know how and I don’t know when. However, with the online course I took through the Facebook group, All-In Entrepreneur, the past couple of weeks I learned some great skills which will help me focus my time and energy towards it.

Jim and I went on a mini road trip this weekend. We drove to Red Wing, MN and visited Fair Trade Books, an independent bookstore owned and run by Rick DeVoe and his staff. He was a gracious host while we were there. We not only bought a couple of books we were looking for, but he suggested one for me and one for Jim after asking us about what kinds of things we liked to read. He pulled out a couple of really good sounding options. Especially for Jim, an aircraft mechanic and pilot who loves to learn about how things work, was offered a copy of a repair manual for a Sopwith Camel.

What is a Sopwith Camel youmay ask? Well, it is a British World War I single seat biplane fighter introduced in 1917. It‘s also the airplane that Snoopy flies when he pretends to kill the Red Baron in a dog fight.

Be sure you support your local independent book sellers. There’s a website where you can buy your books online called Bookshop.org. You can select an independent bookseller and they will receive credit for your purchase. As of this morning, Bookshop.org has raised $5,830,300.86 for local bookstores. Here is a link Bookshop.org

Teen Challenges – Are they talking to you or not?

In my writing recently, I’ve been changing the words teen issues to teen challenges. An issue is defined as an important topic or problem for debate or discussion. Challenge is defined as a task or situation that tests someone’s abilities. Issues seem to get talked about a lot, but not always have something done about them. I like the active nature of the definition of challenge. Teens face the challenge of dealing with things like peer pressure, bullying, and the changes brought on by the pandemic we are currently dealing with.

We are all facing changes in our lives due to the COVID virus, staying at home more, cancelling and rescheduling events, wearing masks when we go to public places like restaurants and work, and doing more things virtually, including school and talking to friends. Two big things which are normal activities for teenagers. Do you really know how your teen is doing during this very different time? Is your teen talking to you about how they feel? Not just about COVID, but other things that may be affecting them?

The coming of COVID has given all of us a chance to spend more time with our families. I know for me it has been nice to have dinners with my young adult kids. We have also had more talks since we are more available. Many of those opportunities were lost before when everyone was so busy with their activities or focusing on their smart phones for answers and interactions.

Speaking of smart phones, teens tend to find a lot of their advice through the internet on their phones. As we all know, the internet isn’t always the most accurate place to get information from. I’ve looked to the internet for answers myself and have wound up getting anxious from the many different answers there were. And each one wound up being a little bit off from the truth. Why not direct teens toward sources of information that we know have the right information? Or engage with them to be comfortable enough to come to their parents, teachers and trusted adults to get answers? To get our teens more engaged with us, it may take some creative solutions about reading certain books or using more accurate websites for them to reach out to. Or have them journal about their feelings through writing prompts.

An author friend of mine, Stephenie Peterson, is a homeschool mom who is posting daily writing prompts for kids on her Instagram and Facebook pages. What a great and maybe non-threatening way to get teens to open up and think about the challenge they are having and write down how they feel. It is along the lines of why psychiatrists have kids draw out what happened and interpret the drawing. How about doing these prompts as part of our current homeschooling or online learning to get teens to open up? Here is the writing prompt Stephenie posted on July 14th,

She posts them during the week. Be sure to check them out! Here are the links. Stephenie Peterson Author – Facebook and Stephenie Peterson Author – Instagram. She’s also an author of three books written for the middle grade audience. In two of her books, her main character is Nellie Nova, a young girl who goes on adventures back into history. And, her third, and most recently released one is called Grace’s Ghosts, which I am planning to do a review of soon, so keep an eye out for it on my blog. Here’s a link to her Amazon profile for more information about her books Stephenie Wilson-Peterson – Amazon Profile

Or, how about taking a look at my book, The Hard Way? It looks at the challenges of facing peer pressure and choosing the right friends. It’s a great coming of age novel to mentor teens with the story of how one teen navigates these challenges. Here’s the link to my website to take you to Amazon to get a copy for that preteen or young adult in your life. The Hard Way

Or, reach out to your local book store through Bookshop.org and order it through them.

So, this week, why not try and reach out to a teen you know and ask them how they are doing with all of the changes? Ask them how they feel about going back to school in the fall? For a lot of teens, it will continue to be distance learning, which is keeping them out of school and away from their friends. Take the time to check in and see if they just may need someone to listen to them. Let me know what you did in the comments below.

Have a good week!

What is Respect?

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

I’ll say, living in Minnesota made last week interesting. I live with my family in a suburb south of Minneapolis, where the arrest and subsequent death of George Floyd happened a week ago today. In my opinion, to say our country is hurting is putting it mildly. The perceptions we have of other people and their life journeys are tainted by our own life experiences. If we are not opening ourselves up to listen to and learn about other people, we can get stuck in misconception. I think this misconception has created the loss of respect for others.

So how we try to find it? Let’s start with what is respect?

When I Googled respect definition, I found two different definitions of respect

-A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements
-Due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

The first definition goes to the question of who do you admire? I’ve read a couple of memoirs lately which are written by women who I admire. I just recently finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle. She talks about struggling with her beliefs while being married to her husband and then coming out in her relationship with Abby Wambach. In her story, she gives readers things to think about in becoming who we truly are by listening to our own inner voice.

I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama. She is a strong woman who didn’t want to lose herself in the roles she played in her life. She had many roles before becoming the First Lady of the United States. Going to the White House was adding a role with many expectations. Now add on that she was the first black woman in this role, and the added pressure to lay out a certain perception made her have to adapt. I’m currently two-thirds of the way through the book, but from what I can see already, Becoming, is a very appropriate title for her book.

Both women have put themselves out there and taken hits from others who haven’t taken the time to get to know them and understand their path. I admire the struggles that they each overcame to become the people they are today. From reading their stories I also respect who they are because of it.

The second definition of respect goes to how we view other people. Before the internet, your trusted source of information was probably your family, local news stations and the newspaper. And those sources were limited by where they learned or accessed their information. Some of us are basing our beliefs about others on what we read online, which can be a slippery slope. There are so many things you have to understand to determine whether the information you are reading on line is accurate. You have to look at the source of the information and what date it was posted. A lot of the media jumps to be the first one to get news out on the web, in a lot of cases, the information they present is incomplete and maybe even completely wrong. This is the source of a lot of the information that teens and young adults are pulling from with the use of their smart phones and online gaming.

What would be a better way to mold your perceptions of other people? Talk to them. Get to know them and what challenges they faced or are currently facing in their life journey. If you can’t talk to them face to face, then read their stories and follow them on their personal social media sites.

Be open to listening and learning. There are many role models out there that have stories to tell. Both Glennon Doyle and Michelle Obama talk about that in their memoirs. Their stories become relatable to us as fellow human beings and ultimately can help us steer the course on our own life path and understand them as people.

Then respect others for who they are, regardless of what they look like, act like, or even believe. We have all either been the new kid at school or have seen her. Reach out to them and get to know their story. Take time to listen and learn from others who are different from you. Don’t be afraid to do it and don’t be afraid to share if you are asked.

The Golden Rule. My parents would remind me of this when I was growing up. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

We are all in this together. It is our society to mold into the way we want it to be. Don’t let haters and people who don’t respect others drive what our society turns into.

Have a good week!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog!

Happy Monday!

Being a author who writes about teen issues, I’m wondering how our teens are doing through this unprecedented time. I see stories about how some kids are working through the changes and being as resilient as they can be. But what about the kids that aren’t? The ones that aren’t doing well with the stay at home orders? Aren’t learning as well at home without the day to day interaction with their friends? Those kids may not reach out and remain quiet. Are we checking in with them and asking them how they feel?

Since 1949, Mental Health America and affiliates have observed May as being Health Month. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website, each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness.

There are many messages popping up on social media with resources to help us. The CDC currently has a public Service Announcement which pops up when you search for mental health awareness on Google.

Be Kind to Your Mind:
Tips to cope with stress during COVID-19

PAUSE – Breathe and notice how you feel

TAKE BREAKS – from COVID-19 content

MAKE TIME – to sleep and exercise

REACH OUT – and stay connected

SEEK HELP – If overwhelmed or unsafe

During the quarantine and stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are isolating alone, have major changes to their daily routines that are leading to feelings of helplessness, or are just scared they are going to get the virus. The stress created by this has affected everyone’s mental health, but the tips listed above are good ones to be aware of even when we aren’t involved in a full-blown pandemic. In my research on the topic, I have found a couple of resources for you, your teen, or someone you may care about to look into. Remember, we are all in this together.

“You are Not Alone”
Everyone faces challenges in life that will affect their mental health. Mental Health America states 1 in 5 people will experience mental illness during their lifetime. NAMI joined with the national movement to raise awareness about mental health with their “You are Not Alone” campaign which focuses on the power of connection for those affected by mental illness. Collectively, we can make a positive impact on the millions of people who are struggling and feeling particularly alone given the current situation of social isolation and physical distancing. They are asking the public to share their experiences with mental health conditions at NAMI.org/YourStory. They want to share the lived experience of others to provide a means for people who are struggling to relate to and find comfort in. They also have a NAMI COVID-19 resource guide available in English and Spanish, just follow this link NAMI COVID-19 Resources.

Tools 2 Thrive
Mental Health America’s 2020 theme is Tools to Thrive. They have a 2020 Mental Health Tool Kit that you can download from their website that provides practical tools that we can all use to help improve our mental health regardless of what we are currently dealing with. This year’s tool kit offers printable handouts on topics like Owning Your Feelings, Finding the Positive, Creating Healthy Routines, and others. There are also marketing materials that may be helpful for teachers or community leaders, but may also help families educating from home with some reminders or materials to discuss with their kids. Here is a link to their site Tools 2 Thrive. When requesting the Tool Kit, it will ask for title and organization. If schooling your kids from home, I would enter parent as your title and homeschool or remote learning as your organization.

For as much as we may not like some of the effects of social media and online gaming for our kids and teens, I think it is a saving grace we have it for our kids to stay in touch with each other. It also helps for families and friends to stay in touch during this strange time in our history. Be sure to use the technology to reach out to family members you haven’t heard from in a while. Let your kids have play dates and zoom meetings to just be themselves with their friends online. But, be sure to keep an eye out and ear open to make sure they are doing it safely. We all need to embrace some of the changes that are happening right now on how we interact with one another. But the interaction doesn’t have to and shouldn’t stop.

Lime Green ribbons signify Mental Health Awareness. Be sure to promote awareness by wearing a ribbon or wearing a lime green shirt. Remember to reach out if you are feeling lonely, scared or overwhelmed. We are all in this together.


Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope you all found ways to celebrate with your moms, grandmothers, wives, etc. yesterday. Some of us have moms in heaven that we recognize with flowers and prayers. The traditional ways of taking mom to brunch or meeting up for dinner at her favorite spot aren’t going to be an option this year. Let me know what creative ways you came up with to show mom that she is special in the comments below.

Have a great week!

How teens react to bullying

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

I intended on publishing this in October as a part of National Bullying Prevention Month, but we had a death in the family that delayed me from making it happen.

So, here it is now.

Bullying

In my last blog post I talked about the differences between being rude to, mean to and actually bullying someone. Bullying is defined as repeatedly doing something intentionally hurtful and not stopping when asked to do so. Sometimes the bullying stops, and the victim is able to work through it. But, in some cases, this behavior has led to victims living not only with depression and self esteem issues but also hurting or even killing themselves because of it.

Teen Suicide

According to an article on the website, kidshealth.org, 60% of all teen suicides are committed by shooting themselves with a gun. Overdose, cutting and hanging are other options typically used by teens. How many kids have gotten to the point of wanting to kill themselves and changed their minds? According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) suicide is the third highest cause of death amongst teens ages 15 to 24 and there is one teen suicide for every 25 attempts. In my opinion, with the number of the teen suicides there are, the fact that there are 25 attempted ones just makes me sad.

Teens are at a transitional age. They want to be adults, but don’t have the life experience to handle everything that life throws their way. It may be one reason why some teens feel suicide is the only way to ultimately get away from a bully.

warren-wong-253598-unsplash
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash.com

There are many programs available to help victims of bullying, why don’t teens choose to use them more? Fear of retaliation from the bully and being seen as weak by their peers and others are two main reasons why teens don’t try and get help. They try to power through their feelings. If the bully ends up getting bored or move onto someone else, the powering through it worked. If the bullying continues, then the teen may reach out for help or may resort to drastic measures to escape.

What are parents and mentors trying to do to help teens deal with bullying? We may be sending mixed messages to teens through what we are saying and doing. We teach our kids not to tattle on others. Is this helping the bully get away with hurting others? I will talk about this in my next blog post.

On another note…

My books in The Way series focus on teen issues. I would like to get copies of them into the hands of teens. I hope these books will help teens relate to what my characters are going through and help them work through the issue they are facing. Reading a book about the issue is a great way to start a conversation about it.

My first book, The Hard Way was published in 2017 about peer pressure. My second book, The Bully’s Way, is due to be published summer of 2019 and is about bullying.

Be sure to check out my website for a link to get your copy of The Hard Way!

The Hard Way Thumbnail

The Hard Way

October is National Bullying Prevention Month

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Along with the coming of fall and Halloween, October is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Here are a couple of key dates.

Go Blue Day – the first Monday in October. World day of bullying prevention and kick off to National Bullying Prevention Month.

Unity Day – October 25, 2018 – a day to wear the color orange to stand against bullying

I found this really cool photo on a Facebook post. When someone says something hurtful to you, it is mean and shouldn’t happen. What they said may make you feel bad, but sometimes you have to ignore what people say and walk away. Easier said than done, I know. But, if it continues to happen, then you need to get somone to help you make them stop.

After reading many stories and obituaries written about teens who have tried or actually ended their lives through suicide, I am upset by how many of them are doing it because of how other teens or adults have treating them. How do they get to the point that they feel there is no other way out? Has our society not given the victim a viable avenue to pursue to get help? Or do we have a way, but the victim is afraid to pursue it because of potential repercussions that may come from it?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, one out of every five teens reports being bullied. That is a lot of teens being bullied. And if that is per the definition stated above, we have a lot of bullies too.

This is one of the reasons why I chose bullying for the focus of my second book, The Bully’s Way, to be published Summer of 2019. To bring the issue up in a readable format in hopes that a teen may find some help or reassurance they are not the only one going through it.

My next post is going to dig a little deeper into the subject of bullying with a few more statistics and some other thoughts. Be sure to watch for it!

Looking for a book about peer pressure, another big teen issue? Be sure to check out the books tab on my website.

The Hard Way Thumbnail

The Hard Way

The link on my page will take you to Amazon.com to purchase your copy. It is also available on the Barnes and Noble website.

Have a great week!

Teen Issues – Bullying

Good Morning! Here is the Monday Morning Blog!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Weather here was wet and rainy on Saturday, but a great fall day (for Minnesota standards) on Sunday. I hosted our book club on Saturday and took care of some tasks in the Writing House on Sunday.  While doing some online research, I found a story about bullying in a Tennessee high school.

Continue reading “Teen Issues – Bullying”