5 Conversations to Have As School Starts

5 Conversations to Have As School Starts

I originally wrote this post two years ago with 3 conversation starters, but I want to revisit and add a couple of conversations that I believe will be helpful. So buckle up, school is here!

 


 

It is that back-to-school time of the year again!

I can hear the cheers and tears from the Teen Life office. Whether you are looking forward to getting back to a routine, wondering how your baby has grown into a high school senior, or are trying to figure out how your youth ministry is going to hold up against football season – you have a role to play in this upcoming school year!

Before teenagers start back at their middle or high schools, or the graduates leave home to start their college adventures, take time to have bold, encouraging conversations! You have an opportunity to help students set goals and think about where they want to be at the end of this 2018-2019 school year.

By having healthy conversations (check out this blog post), this school year can get off to a great start from the very first day! Here are some goals to help teenagers think about as they start school:

 

Grades

Grades are important. They help you graduate high school and get scholarships for college. They are a reflection of what you have learned and how hard you have worked at a particular subject.

However, grades don’t define your student or their worth. Students will put pressure on themselves about what kind of grades they should be making before you say a word. Instead of starting out the school year with a lecture about responsibility, finishing homework before video games, or the consequences for poor test grades, ask your student these questions:

  • What do you want your grades to look like at the end of this school year?
  • If you improved your grades and school work from last year, what would that look like?
  • How can I help you succeed this school year?

If you allow them to set their own goals, they will take more ownership in their school work. Instead of working toward your expectation, they will be stepping up to the standards they set for themselves – what better lesson could you teach a teenager? Help them set realistic goals and hold them accountable throughout the year with {friendly} reminders. Don’t expect your B student to make a 4.0 this school year, but encourage them to improve and continue to grow!

 

Friends

As you know, friends and peers have a huge influence during teenage years. They can impact grades, decisions, activities and attitude. While they are old enough to choose their own friends, as the adult, it is okay for you guide them in these choices. When it comes to friendships they have at school, start a conversation by asking these questions:

  • What relationship last year provided the most encouragement?
  • How do your friendships impact your performance at school or in extracurriculars?
  • Are their any relationships that provided drama or stress? What can you do to make that relationship healthier?

They probably aren’t going to react well if you ban them from hanging out with their best friend. But maybe you can open up the door for healthy conversation if you ask them to share first. Teenagers are smarter than we often give them credit for! If they are in an unhealthy relationship, let them talk through what that looks like and what they could do to either get rid of the friendship or set up healthier boundaries.

 

Extracurriculars 

It seems like today’s teenagers are busier than ever. Not only are they expected to go to school during the week and church on the weekends, but they also have to be involved in multiple extracurriculars, join school clubs and complete crazy amounts of service hours.

That is what colleges expect, right?

Extracurriculars are good and character building, but it is important for students to set goals not only on how to better themselves through these activities, but also how to find margin and rest in the midst of their busy schedules. Especially if you are talking to a teenager who is involved in multiple sports, activities or volunteer opportunities, encourage them to set healthy goals by asking these questions:

  • How many extracurriculars do you think you’ll have time for with school and other responsibilities?
  • How can you improve and use these experiences to help you in the future?
  • What can you do to make time for rest, friends and fun?

Have them prioritize their activities – there may be some new opportunities that arise this year, but if it passes what they can handle, it is not worth taking it on. They are teenagers, but they are still allowed to have fun! Please don’t allow your teenager to live like an adult. Help them take advantage of the freedom and fun that comes with adolescence. If they feel like they need to give up an activity to better balance their time, help them make the decision that is best for them (even if it means giving up that sport you love).

 

Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Health

Coming off the last conversation, it is so important for teenagers to take care of themselves! While culture is talking more about mental health, we cannot ignore it in our homes, churches or schools!

Please make sure you are having these conversations with your teen. Are they aware of signs of depression or suicide in themselves or friends? Are they motivated to improve in any of these areas? This conversation could be touchy or emotional, and is really three conversations, but don’t shy away from it! Start with these questions:

  • Do you feel like you have someone you can talk to about health? Especially mental and spiritual health? Who is that person?
  • What would you do if a friend came to you with a health concern?
  • What could you do this school year to improve in each of these areas? How could we help you accomplish your goals?

Be willing to ask your teen about the current state of their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Do they want to change anything? How can you help? Can you get them a gym membership or cook healthier meals? Could you help them seek the guidance of a counselor? Does one of their friends need a trusted adult to talk to? Can you start a family Bible Study? Consider what they need for themselves and from you.

 

Boundaries

Teenagers are trying to find identity and values at this phase of life. As the adults in their lives, it is our job to guide and teach while also giving them a safe space to try and sometimes fail. Teens won’t be perfect – I wasn’t at that age and definitely still make plenty of mistakes! However, we can help them set some boundaries in place to protect and direct as they gain the confidence and understand they need to truly succeed.

Maybe boundaries look like a curfew, or a time restraint on social media or Netflix. Maybe they want to limit how often they hang out with a certain friend or which event they want to avoid. Let them start the conversation and try not to jump in at the beginning with what you think is best. Here are a few questions to get this final conversation started:

  • What personal boundaries would help you succeed this school year?
  • How likely are you to say, “No!” when someone crosses your boundaries?
  • How do you think the boundaries we have set could be helpful? Are their any boundaries you have concerns about?

The beginning of school is a great time to talk about boundaries and expectations for the school year. Some rules will change over the years, and some will stay consistent. Some teenagers will even have intelligent boundaries that they want to set for themselves – give them that opportunity!

 


 

You have the power and the opportunity to help teenagers see their future and set goals to reach it. Ask good questions, listen with empathy and work together to set realistic goals that will allow them to not only enjoy but also take advantage of their teenage years. These are great conversations to have at the beginning of school, but we also encourage you to revisit these topics – ask how they are doing with their goals and if anything has changed. This is just a starting place!!

Are you willing to have these conversations? Share what goals the teenagers you talk to set! How will you help hold them accountable?

Karlie Duke was in one of Teen Life’s original support groups and now is our Marketing & Development Director. She is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories.
Mark Matlock Talks The Importance of Youth Ministry

Mark Matlock Talks The Importance of Youth Ministry

Listen & Subscribe:  iTunes | Android | RSS


 

This episode, Chris and Karlie are joined by youth ministry expert, author, and national speaker, Mark Matlock. Join the conversation as Mark discusses the importance of youth ministry and how churches can reach teenagers. Whether or not you attend church, this is a great conversation about the importance of relationships and a place to belong in the life of a teenager.

[bctt tweet=”Teens participate in things that require their attendance. // @dontpanictalk @MarkMatlock” username=””]

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • Why youth ministry matters.
  • How to engage teenagers in the body of the church.
  • The importance of intergenerational relationships.
  • How youth group can impact a teenager as they move into adulthood.
Ask yourself…
  • Am I intentionally placing other adults in the lives of teenagers?
  • How can I better engage teenagers in the church body as a whole?
Go ask a teen…
  • Do you feel like you are a necessary part of the church body?
  • What is a problem you see with the church? How can we work together to solve that problem?
Resources:

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

About Us:
Mark Matlock has been working with youth pastors, students, and parents for more than two decades. He is currently the president of WisdomWorks and is the former Executive Director for Youth Specialties (YS) and creator of the PlanetWisdom student conferences. Mark has written more than twenty books for teens and parents, including the Wisdom On… series, Living a Life That Matters, Smart Faith, Real World Parents, and Raising Wise Children. You can learn more at wisdomworks.com or markmatlock.com
Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!
Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!
Have a question?
If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!
Don’t Panic about Preparing Teens for the Future with David Fraze

Don’t Panic about Preparing Teens for the Future with David Fraze


 

We have some bad news…your teen is going to grow up and become an adult. A scary thought, we know! But in this episode, join the conversation with Dr. David Fraze about what this transition looks like and how we can better prepare teenagers to emerge as functioning, responsible adults. Your teen will eventually leave you, but don’t panic – you’ve got this!

 

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • The 3 questions teens are tasked with before emerging into adulthood.
  • What teenagers need to walk through the transitions in adolescence.
  • The role of adults in a student’s life.
  • Ways to deliberately provide teenagers with adult connections.
  • How to help students build healthy peer relationships.
  • What you can do to prepare teenagers for adulthood.

[bctt tweet=”Our students are incredible people that can be molded. – @DontPanicTalk @DavidFraze1″ via=”no”]

 

Ask yourself…

  • How can I better praise teens based on who they are and not just what they do?
  • What kind of example of character, of choice making, of responsibility, and of rule following am I setting?
  • What am I teaching teenagers about being an adult?

 

Go ask a teen…

  • How many significant adult relationships do you have in your life?
  • Who are the 5 adults that you would talk to if you wouldn’t want my advice?
  • What is it like to be a teenager in 2016?

 

Resources:

 

About Us:

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David Fraze (D.Min., Fuller Theological seminary) is Special Assistant to the President of Lubbock Christian University and Fort Worth Area Director and Manager of DFW Character Coaches for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is a popular speaker and writer on all things youth ministry and adolescence. Based out of North Richland Hills, Texas, David has been working with students for over 25 years. Follow him on Twitter!

 

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Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!

 

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Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

 

 

Have a question?

 If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

 

 

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Don’t Panic About Self-Harm with Shannon Herman

Don’t Panic About Self-Harm with Shannon Herman

In this episode, we talk to Shannon Herman, a Licensed Professional Counselor, about self-harm, how to recognize the signs and how to respond to a teen who self-injures. While this can be a heavy and sometimes upsetting topic, we need to be able to have conversations about self-harm to better equip teenagers with different coping skills. Take a deep breath and don’t panic about self-harm…you’ve got this!

 

In this episode, you’ll find out…

  • Several types of self-harming behaviors seen among teenagers.
  • What ages and genders engage in self-injurious behaviors.
  • Some presenting issues and warning signs behind self-harm (hint: it’s not always the cat!)
  • The importance of confronting a self-harming teenager.
  • Some positive ways to react to self-injurious behavior.
  • What steps to take after discovering self-harming behaviors.

Ask yourself…

  • Am I paying attention to warning signs and behavior changes?
  • How would I react if a teen revealed self-injurious marks to me?
  • Am I listening? Am I available?

 

Go ask a teen…

  • What triggers you to self-harm? What do you have on your mind right before you do that?
  • What do you hope the end result will be when you are self-injuring?
  • Can I see the places where you have hurt yourself?

[bctt tweet=”You’re not there to be that teen’s friend, you’re there to potentially save their life – @dontpanictalk” via=”no”]

Additional Resources:

In this episode, we mentioned the following resources:

 

About us: 

Shannon Herman has been in private practice in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for over four years as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Her focus is on issues related to adult and adolescent women such as: eating disorders, body image concerns, depression, anxiety/stress management and low-self esteem. As a mom of 2 girls and wife of a Youth Minister, Shannon is dedicated to motivating and empowering clients to stimulate change within their life. Find her website here!

 

Chris Robey is the Program Director for Teen Lifeline, Inc. Earlier in his career while working as a youth minister, Chris earned a Masters Degree in Family Life Education from Lubbock Christian University to better equip his work with teenagers and families. Chris’ career and educational opportunities have exposed him to teenagers from a variety of backgrounds. Follow him on Twitter!

 

Karlie Duke started working as Teen Lifeline’s Communications Director after graduating from Abilene Christian University with a degree in Communications with a minor in Family Studies. Karlie has worked with teenagers for the past 5 years and is passionate about encouraging students to live better stories. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram!

 
 

 

Have a question?

 If you have a question about something you heard or just want to give us some feedback, please leave us a comment below.  We would love to hear from you!

 

 

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