According to the U.S. Department of Education, every single day 60,000 students avoid going to school because they are afraid of being bullied.
Question: How can we help those 60,000 frightened students go to school?
Answer: Teach teens to lead.
Three Types of Teens
There are three types of teens: Bullies, Followers and those who Lead.
Bullies are perpetrators of threats and violence. They have low self-esteem and take out their frustrations on others. They lack a sense of being valued and loved for who they really are.
Followers are afraid to speak or step up for themselves or others who are victimized. Followers go along with whatever is happening in their environment. They do not have a good sense of who they are.
Teens who lead are empathic. They care enough to report and help reduce violence and bullying. They model respectful communication and healthy relationships. They know and live their values. They encourage and lead other teens to make better decisions in their lives
The Brains of Teen Who Lead, Followers and Bullies.
Our brains are either organized or disorganized. An organized brain has a large working neural network that connects to the prefrontal cortex. That is the neural real estate that is responsible for ration, logical, life and love affirming decision making.
A disorganized brain has parts of neural real estate that is locked off from the network. The network does not have as many connections to the prefrontal cortex. Disorganized brains make more decisions using the limbic region, which is responsible for survival: fight or flight. Those decisions are often knee jerk reactions tinged with fear or anger.
Teens who lead have more organized brains while followers and bullies have more disorganized brains.
How Can You Shape Your Teen's Brain To Lead?
1. Answer your teen's Big Brain question with a "Yes!" Social Neuroscientist Dr. Mark Brady reveals all of our brains ask those we care about, "Are you there for me?"
2. Learn about what Stanford neurobiologist Dr. Sapolsky has identified as the four primary destroyers of optimal neural growth.
3. Know how to Look, Listen, Learn and Love.
4. Heal your own wounds.
"YES!" The Needed Answer
You can answer the Big Brain Question by learning True Listening Skills. They are based on the concept of COAL: Curiosity, Openness, Acceptance and Love. When you create a safe relationship so your child trusts you enough to tell you who they really are, you are able to be there for them.
Unsaddling the Four Horsemen of Neuro-Annihilation
Take the saddles away from the four horsemen of neuro-annihilation. Neuro-annihilation comes from four major areas in our lives. 1) Lack of control. 2) Lack of predictability. 3) Having your Big Brain Question answered "No" and 4) Stress, especially accumulative stress.
1. Allow your teen to learn age appropriate autonomy. Let them control things they are ready for physically and emotionally. Teach them how to cope with things they cannot control.
2. Create predictability in their daily lives. That means your teen can rely on ongoing stability to feel safe and secure.
3. Teach teens to lead by answering their Big Brain Question with a resounds "yes!" as often as possible.
4. Stress creates toxic chemicals in the brain and body that stop good brain development. Help your teen learn to manage or reduce stress through exercise, prayer, mediation, talking to a trusted advisor, or any other healthy method.
The Four L's: Look, Listen, Learn and Love
When you pay attention (look, listen) to your child's actions and words, you start to build a safe and secure relationship. After you look and listen, learn what your child's actions or words mean. What do they want you to know? What do they need? Show love by responding to their needs in a timely fashion.
Heal Your Wounds
The work of every parent who wants to teach their teen to lead, is to heal their growing up wounds. Traumatic, or repetitive insults to mind, body or soul, are trapped in our body and brain. These old wounds and memories lock down our neural network. Parents who have unexamined, unhealed wounds have a challenging time raising teens who lead. They may inadvertently be raising followers or bullies.
For those 60,000 students who avoid school due to fear, we as parents and educators need to learn how to teach teens to lead instead of following or bullying. Teens can and do learn how to stop following and bullying when they are shown love and respect by adults and peers.
To take one of these quizzes
*Listening Skills Quiz
*Growing up Wounds Quiz
Or, to find out how your school can incorporate programs to Teach Teens To Lead
Please email Dr. Jennifer Austin Leigh at Jennifer@teachteenstolead.com
The Secrets Guys Wish You Knew About Love is available at www.parentingteengirls.com
It is a book to help teach teen girls to lead.