How many of us have talked to or worked with teenagers who are angry/depressed/confused/violent etc? Why is adolescence such a tumultuous time?
Experts can explain it from the physiological point of view (hormonal changes causing changes in brain activity which in turn causes changes in hormone levels blah blah?, emotional point of view (adolescence is a volatile period, the transition from childhood to adulthood, time of seeking identity and belonging etc) or cognitive point of view (among others). (For my thoughts on why teens act up, please kindly look forward to my next post on “I’m a Teenager. Can I be angsty?”)
But the reality is if you are a teacher of teens (high school, secondary school) or a youth leader, you will face countless episodes of blow ups from one or many of those you work with. If you are a parent of teens, you probably have an ongoing drama series or soap opera going on at home with a few episodes playing everyday!
No matter what reasons may be available out there to explain teenagers’ out-of-the-norm behaviour, I believe 2 things: 1) The home is a major factor contributing to instability in a teenager’s emotions and behaviour, 2) there is a way to cope with these behaviours (or misbehaviours) and teenagers should be taught to manage their emotions and behaviour. Of course, ideally, the source of the issues should be addressed. But as teachers, there are problems outside of school that we cannot solve. There could also be situations when the home environment is perfect or ideal, but the teenager has personal issues that causes problems to surface. We could coach them and help them to manage their issues and not turn into a delinquent for want of attention.
Hence, I’ve decided to start a collection of true Singapopre Teen Stories to share some of the stories I’ve encountered over my 10 years in youth ministry in church and 8 years teaching teens, with the hope that these stories will help us to understand the issues teenagers face and think about our roles as teachers or parents and how we can help guide and coach them through the difficult growing up years. This may also involve instilling discipline and putting in routine and boundaries in a teen’s life. It is better for us to be able to do this with them, than for them to have to learn that in an insitution like The Boys’ Home.
More than that, it’s about giving them a chance to grow up. If your one-year-old falls while learning to walk, you don’t immediately yell at her, “Why did you fall?! Get up!” So why do we raise our voices at teenagers who are just learning to be mature and responsible young adults? They will make mistakes, they will mess up, and they will even justify their wrongdoings and seem to honestly not think they have done anything wrong! (aggravating) But if we scold them everytime they fail, one day they’ll just stop trying…
I do not profess to be an expert or an academic in this area. I certainly do not write like they do in the books we read on our courses on teaching teenagers! (If you want someone to understand what you are writing, then write in a way they can understand!) And the names will of course be made up, but the stories are true, and they are real people, much like the ones we see in our classrooms everyday.
Enjoy! (And let me know if you have any inputs to share!)