The Best Time of Your Life – Not
Most of my readers know that, in addition to being a writer, I am a psychologist. One aspect of my work is conducting presentations for teachers and parents. Lately the theme of bullying is a common concern in the workshops and the media. I won’t attempt to present the whole workshop here, but there is one related point that resonates with workshop participants and is worth sharing.
People working with young people often look at their enriched lives and their relative lack of troubles and say, “This is the best time of your life.” To a miserable adolescent this is not good news!
Sometimes our efforts to help kids see the good in their current situation can backfire. Instead they need to understand that it will get better. I also do workshops for adolescents on adolescent psychology. It seems to be comforting to them to know that this period has a purpose, is temporary and that things will get easier. In our eyes their troubles may be smaller, but so are their coping skills.
Years ago I was working with a mother who was very stressed and very upset with her child. The family was dealing with many challenges. In an effort to help the mother understand the child I said, ”Right now her plate is full.” The mother replied in frustration, “So is mine!” I knew the mother well enough to respond, “Yes, but her plate is smaller.” The mother laughed out loud and that image helped her see her daughter’s point of view. Young people may have fewer challenges to deal with, but they also have fewer skills to deal with these challenges.
We cannot and should not make their lives free of difficulty, but we can help them develop the coping strategies to deal with these difficulties. One of these strategies is remembering that, “This is not the best time of your life. Things will get better!"