The Teenage Years Can be Anxious Years (And We Don’t Just Mean for the Parents).
As we head into the final hours before we know the outcome of the American presidential election, we recognize our students may be anxious. You’ve entrusted us to live and work with your child(ren), to share our School’s core values and to give them the critical thinking skills they need to know the difference between fact and opinion. We know our students well and we understand they may want to talk to you about the upcoming events and the possible aftermath of this election.
Teens Have Their Own Language – Be Ready to Listen
2020 has been a difficult year between the pandemic, economic concerns, racial violence, and for our international students, concerns about the ability to stay in the US or go back home. As a School, our core values matter and define us. Those values help us frame discussions around the election, in and out of the classroom. When students support their feelings using values, they are engaged in the type of critical, reflective thinking responsible citizens need. As a School, mentors, and teachers, our role is to help our students process events. We know there will be students disappointed with the end result. For students who need it, we can create a place within our virtual learning environment to process the results and, more importantly, the feelings and emotions that they may be struggling with. Teens want to know they are heard. We get that.
Five Ways to Help Your Teen (And We’ll be Right There Beside You)
As a parent or caregiver to a teen(s), you can provide your child with the tools to help navigate this and future elections productively.
How can you do this? Here are the first four steps (adapted from care.com):
- Emphasize classic lessons from Kindergarten. Show respect for those who don’t look or think like you. Listen and refrain from name-calling.
- Practice reflective listening, in which a person listens, then repeats back what they have heard before responding.
- Encourage your teen to pause, think, and ask questions before they react.
- Help your teen find ways to channel their energy to work for the change they want to see.
The fifth tool is by leveraging programs on our campus such as our Impact Learning program to really emphasise working for change. Whether it’s supporting veterans, first responders, or working toward food security, teens can find a place to belong, be heard, and be able to process the news around them.
“It is important for all of us to look at the election through the lens of our Great 8 (our Core Values) and to respect the differing opinions that inform our choices. We are a community from all over the world and all over the United States, and while we are not going to agree most of the time, we can listen to each other and support and honor each other’s right to have differing perspectives.” – Laurie Lambert, Head of School | MA
Here are some resources and discussion starters for the upcoming election: