Teen years. When I think back to my teen years, I wonder how I survived. Especially how my parents survived and how it must have felt to them to witness me unfolding into who I am today.
Teen years are challenging and can be mega confusing at times. I would say that they are even more confusing now with Instagram, Snapchat, House Party, and whatever other social media sucks our youth today. I can’t help but reflect on my own teenage years as I see my teenage son grow into his. It is beautiful, painful at times, frustrating much of the time, and sometimes it is all of these things at once and I wonder how all of the parents in the world get through these years. It can be completely uncomfortable being in such unknown territory and I sometimes think, “Can’t we just go back to the simple toddler tantrums over spilt milk that were easily diverted with a new activity to focus on?” Of course, we can’t. Now we need to talk about big things like peer pressure, political topics, changing bodies, drugs, sex, internet safety, and being a responsible, stand up human. It's seriously a 180 degree shift from even just a year ago and I’m trying to be as mindful as possible without overwhelming him or myself. Don't get me wrong, my kid is a good one and in the whole scheme of things his behaviors are probably minor compared to how I was as a teenager. Sometimes though, so many things come up in one day that leave him and me spinning, trying to understand how to sort through the pressures and challenges that come with being a teen in this day and age.
I am by no means an expert in teens. I am a just a Mom with training in herbs and holistic health that is learning how to navigate this new territory and support my teen and myself during these years of him going from my little buddy to a beautiful young man. The list below are things that are great to keep in mind for your teen but also for yourself. After all we need to be taking care of ourselves too in order to give the best for our teens!
6 Things I’m Learning About Supporting My Teenager and 3 Herbs to Support Them (and you):
1. Take time away from the screen and go outside
This is such an important one. The generation of kids today are nature-deficit and it is detrimental to their physical, mental, and emotional health. As I have already discussed, screens are a big part of this. The kids today are stationary and stimulated by screens more than nature. It's up to us as parents to encourage a connection and appreciation with nature from day one. If you've not done that, it's ok! Start now. Take them hiking, camping, or on some sort of outdoor excursion. Just get them outside and in the thick of nature. So many studies speak to the benefits nature has on the emotional health of people. It can even help with ADD/ADHD.
For more information on this subject, check out the book “Last Child in The Woods” By Richard Louv. In his book he talks about how the nature disconnect has led to depression, obesity, and ADD. In his book, he offers solutions to this unfortunate problem our society is facing. You can also find information from an organization called Green Hour that provides support to parents wanting to help their kids reconnect to nature. Much of the info is aimed towards younger kids but if you look around, there is articles on teens too. Here’s one that I really enjoyed (click here)
2. Social media is toxic…and necessary (to a point) for teens these days
I mean, we know this already because we hear it everywhere but now that I am immersed in the world of seeing my teen on his electronics, I know it more closely. Social media is brilliant in keeping our kids connected in a digital world. It helps them utilize their creativity by taking photographs, writing letter like messages, and connecting with one another very easily. It’s wonderful and at the same time it is an all-encompassing, all consuming vortex of a world. The problem is that these kids don’t call each other on the phone or ride their bikes to one another’s homes to just hang out. They text and usually over social media. They are constantly being faced with who is doing what, with whom, and the amount of followers determining their social status. What they look like at any point of the day is an obsession because they have to take a selfie for their InstaStory or Snap Chat message. They are bombarded. On top of all that, they have a new problem that comes from social media….FOMO. Yes, I just said that and I know you’re probably thinking, “Fo who? What? Mo where?” I recently just learned the term myself and it means “Fear of Missing Out”. This term just wasn’t around when we were kids because, well we didn’t sit around staring at a screen all day looking at our hundreds of “friends” out doing amazing things together while we sat in our rooms scrolling through our news feeds. This phenomenon is real and it doesn’t just exist for teens. It also exists for adults. I admittedly have had brief tinges of self-pity when I see a photo of some blogger I follow posting their most recent travels to some amazing new place with their family and everything looks perfect and I am at home with my pajamas still on and it’s 4:30pm and my hair in a mom bun, covered in my 7 month olds spit up, and my toddler is coloring all over himself with markers. FOMO is not a healthy thing to feel and with all the doctoring up that we can create on our social media pages, we can give the impression that our life indeed is perfect when it’s just not. We are all human here, period. As an adult, I can completely reason this and talk myself down from the ledge when these emotions come up but for a teen who is vulnerable, hormonal, growing into themselves, trying to figure out who they are…this is some hard shit for them. I feel an immense amount of compassion for teens today as they navigate through the digital age, lost without guidance on some of the feelings that come from it.
3. Getting enough sleep is key.
It has been researched by respectable medical journals, talked about in the news, yet no one changes the cultural norm of kids starting school entirely too early in the morning. Adolescents need 9 ½ hours of sleep per night on average as they are growing so rapidly. Their minds and bodies function better with more sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says that the average teen gets less than 7 hours of sleep per night!!! That is just insane to me! The consequences can be mild to severe. It can cause irritability, emotional and behavioral problems, depression, poor impulse control, violence, impaired memory, poor performance academically and athletically, and other physical health problems. It is important to not take sleep as a side note in your teens health. Penn State came out with a study talking about this very thing (click here). Oxford also did an interesting study on sleep deprivation associated with earlier school starting times (click here). The problem is, unless your child is homeschooled, chances are you S.O.L. when it comes to their school start time. However, that being said, you can encourage earlier bed times. I know that can be difficult when they are this age but it is detrimental to their overall health. Share some of the research with them. Educate them about how this can affect them. Below I list some herbs that can be helpful for relaxing teens at night so they can get some good shut eye before their early school day.
4. Having an outlet or hobby (off the screen) is vital to a teenager’s mental health.
It’s vital to everyone’s heath, really. Teens need to be able to release their energy in a positive manner. Without joyful activities, life can become depressing. Encourage outdoor activities, sports, arts or crafts, fitness, or anything else that is a healthy outlet. Mine was photography and martial arts when I was a teen. My husband's was soccer, my son’s is working out and fishing. If your child doesn’t have a hobby, help them explore some. Take one up with them if you have to. Just get them doing something. When teens have too much time on their hands, bad things can start to happen. They're bored and looking for things to do and many times those things end up being not so good things.
5. Eating habits will affect everything.
Also true. A majority of people, especially teens eat junk. The foods they eat are often times greasy, sugary, processed and have little or no nutritional value. Support your teen by giving them healthy options at home. You’re not with them all of the time and who knows what they eat when they are out with friends or at school but at least you can give them something nourishing when they return to home. Have fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other quick easy snacks to grab on the go. Show them how to make themselves a smoothie! Such a great thing to know when they leave home so they can still feed themselves something nutritious on the go instead of chips or whatever else they would otherwise grab.
6. Herbs can help.
Herbs can be very helpful in times of agitation, moodiness, lack of energy, overwhelm. You know all of the things that can happen as a teen. The herbs I am sharing with you below are wonderful to help those moody and stressful rollercoaster kind of days that teens sometimes experience as they transition from kid to adult. Oh and if you're having a tough day dealing with your teen, they can help you feel better too : )
Lemon Balm (Melissa Officianalis) -
I always say that Lemon Balm is the herb for toddler temper tantrums. Well it’s also for teen tantrums. Lemon balm is such a gentle and yet powerful herb. It balances out anxiety, irritability, calms the mind, and overall elevates the mood. The smell alone can chill my toddler right out. I have not tried that technique with my teen yet ; ) You can grow it in a pot on your porch so easily. Careful, it's a mint so it does spread! Add it to tea, chop it up in fruit salad or over ice cream. just get creative . You can also purchase it as a tincture or glycerite through me.
Rose (Rosa) -
Such a beautiful flower it is! Roses are known as the flower of love. We all know that people give their lovers roses as a token of their love. They are pretty and if you are lucky enough to have a fragrant rose, even better. The smell is intoxicating. Just as Rose bouquets are given for love so is the medicine. Rose is given to heal a broken heart. Teens can benefit when they have a break-up, are feeling left out of a crowd, emotionally feeling hurt and sad. Rose is a friend for these situations. It’s also helpful For PTSD. Now not every teen has trauma but trauma can mean many things including the things I mentioned earlier. Anything that rattled you can be traumatic. Rose helps diffuse some of the sharpness of that trauma along with other therapies. I have a recipe for a delicious Rose Petal Elixir here. If you don't want to make it, you can also purchase it from me. Another way to take Rose is to splash Rose water in your tea or in juice (such as lemonade), You can also spray a Rose hydrosol on yourself or use the essential oil.
Milky Oat (Avena Sativa) -
All Oats are great, including oatmeal but what I’m talking about here is the fresh milky seed of Oat. This herb is used as a food for the nervous system. It helps with nervous exhaustion, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, and as a supporter to other treatment during depression. It is used regularly to restore a person’s emotional foundation. It is best taken as a tincture with the fresh herb (contact me to purchase) but in a pinch, the dried form can be bought in capsule form or taken in a tea.
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