Posted on January 20th, 2016

Teens: Trauma or Drama?

Working with teenagers can make many adults uncomfortable. Teens may appear to be emotional, reactive and flighty. They can be very deep thinkers, challenging our accepted sense of the status quo. They seem to like to fight, to stomp off in sorrow or anger. Their emotions are unpredictable and often catching, both between teens and with the adults that surround them. And they remind us of some of the most intense times of our lives – both good and bad.

The teenage years are full of sturm and drang. These are years when kids have tantrums that are reminiscent of a two year old. Our teens are experiencing stress at higher levels than in the past. They have more physical symptoms, more anxiety, are more often medicated, have higher rates of suicide. Parents, teachers and educators are wise to be worried about our kids. But how much of this is trauma, and how much is drama?

It can be our own personal discomfort with teens that leads us to take rigid positions in our work with them. We create rules, ostensibly for their safety. We have firm ideas of what they should and should not do. We see their mistakes as potentially life threatening. And we forget that our goal must be long term – to help them to become the very best Jewish adults they can be.

Join me for a day of learning about teens. We will briefly explore teen brains, to understand why kids act the way they do. We will look at the differences between anxiety, grief, sadness and depression. and how these are experienced by teens and adults. And we will try to set goals — for our teens, their parents and ourselves.

Let’s come together to help create healthy Jewish adults, to help moderate our own fears for our teens, to strengthen Jewish families. I hope to (virtually) see you on the 8th!

_Betsy Stone Pic Version 2 10-14-15Betsy Stone is a Yale-educated psychologist. She has worked in the Jewish community as a therapist, a teacher, a youth leader, and as an adjunct instructor at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, where she also sits on the Board. At HUC-JIR, she has taught pastoral counseling to rabbinic students, human development to education students, and two courses on adolescents and emerging adults with the CAEA Certificate Program. She is a Grinspoon Award winner for her work with young teens and their parents, and has developed a family education program for her synagogue that encourages meaningful conversations between teens and their parents. Betsy is the featured speaker at the national ARJE Yom Iyun on February 8, 2016.