We all need a little silence once in a while.
Teens are no exception. They live in a world of constant contact; texts, updates, snap chats, kiks, you tube, music, etc. They are often seen typing away on their device with ear buds streaming music, while watching TV and playing a mindless game. And to top it off they are generally doing all of these things at the exact same time they are supposedly doing their homework. Teens have taken multi tasking to a whole new level!
But do they ever have even one minute of silence? Do they ever stop taking in information? When do they rest their mind?
Teens are going through incredible growth during these years. Their brains are working on the fine details of managing thoughts, impulses and emotions. Loneliness, frustration, anger, emptiness, hurt, sorrow, need, emptiness, numbness are all hard emotions to process. These feelings are uncomfortable and not easy to face. Teens choose the multitasking and constant busyness because they are afraid to slow down and FEEL. They seek out the constant contact to bury their insecurity. Social media gives them a false confidence. They think they feel connected. But the most important connection, their own confidence in their ability to handle the tough stuff, is missing. This is the time of development when our teens should not only be feeling these feelings, but finding coping skills, finding ways to manage, and finding ways to move forward productively and happily. If teens are constantly busy balancing music, homework, chatting, texting, keeping up with you tube videos, staying constantly informed, they have no time to fine tune the way they feel feelings. And even if the feelings sneak in, they do not give themselves the peace and quiet in their brains to find ways to cope. If our teens only coping skill for the tough emotions life is going to bring is to post on line, share with the world, retaliate with a snap chat, tweet about it, or worse, pretend it doesn’t matter and fill their time and energy with anything, everything else, rather than feel, they will be limited to relying on those skills only as they go through adulthood. We all need to feel the tough feelings. That is how we grow. That is how we learn. If we navigate tough feelings as a teen, we can navigate tough feelings as adults. Choosing quiet takes courage! Silence allows teens to really feel. And that is OK. In fact, it’s absolutely necessary for their development!
Here are some very simple things you can do to encourage silence.
- Keep electronics out of their bedroom. The quiet moments they are drifting off to sleep are invaluable. No pressure to text, respond or even listen to music. Only silence and a moment to think. To feel.
- Turn off the radio sometimes when you are driving with your teen. Model that silence can be comfortable.
- Encourage them to walk away from their devices sometimes. If they are going to bake, just bake. A whole 20 minutes focusing on a recipe and the process is wonderful silence. Their social world can wait 20 minutes!
- Teach them to enjoy simple moments, like a shower, a bath, even a TV show without interruptions from their device or even music.
- Take them for a mother daughter massage J with the understanding no devices allowed!
- Read a book! Find a way to get them to curl up in a chair and read. In silence of course!
- Take a walk alone or with you. Talk or don’t talk. But no devices!
Mindfulness and Meditation are great ways to teach your teen to be silent. There are many great resources for teaching mindfulness to teens; here are some great links if you or your teen is interested in exploring more.
“Silence is a source of great strength.” – Lao Tzu