Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How to Encourage Pre-Teens with Angst Issues-A Book Review

Being thankful when your hormones are raging can be down right difficult or near impossible.

Navigating the waters of growing up can be difficult at times.  There will be moments of joy, for sure, but, there will also be times when whatever you say will NOT be the right thing to say, no matter what!

We have all heard the saying "Little Children, Little problems, Big Children, Big Problems".  During this Thanksgiving time, we all look back and remember the good times.  Mixed in with those good times are some of the challenging moments in our lives that we would all like to forget.  Everyone has had their share of both!

When our children are going through their own "tough" times, we look for help to get them through these sometimes painful episodes of growing up.

Getting lost in a book can sometimes be the way to unlock some truths that our preteens and teens need to understand.  To that end I'm going to recommend two books that I feel are great and written especially for this age group.  Middle schoolers (Grades 4 to 8) are just starting to feel their way around life.  Yet there can be curves in the road.  Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling (she holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education)   will open up some doors to many situations that children may already be experiencing.  Making friends, being a friend and going through life's experiences with those friends starts in Grade School.  *It actually starts much earlier, but is usually done with parental supervision.*  Grade School is where children start making choices for themselves without the watchful eyes of a parent or guardian.  What you have taught them will come into play when they are out on their own for the first time.   Understanding that everyone is different and accepting those differences will make life for our children much more interesting and exciting.  Learning to see through eyes that accept people for who they are will open doors to friendships that you may never have thought possible.  Today, we are encouraging everyone to include those who are different or have abilities that are unlike our own.  Diversity has always been part of our lives, yet, we have failed many times to celebrate that diversity.  Let's help our children now, by teaching empathy and decency for everyone they come in contact with.



Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is the first book in a series of 2 books!  Each book stand on it's own merit, but as a series, they are even better.    The second book (Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus), opens up some new life events for our main character "Aven"!  These events throw her for a loop. Moving from Middle School to High School  is never easy.  New friends and new experiences are opening up for everyone!  But when you are Aven, this might not be something to look forward to.  It's like starting all over again!



Explaining yourself over and over again to anyone is no fun.  Aven, our main character was born without arms.  That has not stopped her from doing all kinds of things that we take for granted.  Her adoptive parents are encouraging her all the time to do things for herself, even though it may be different than the way they do things.  Using her feet like arms, Aven does indeed manage to do all the things that able bodied people do. It may take her longer to accomplish some tasks, but she manages anyways. High school though, is a whole new world.  While everyone is trying to learn the ropes of being in High School, our main character finds herself even more alone and struggling to find her place in this new situation.  The only constant in Aven's world right now is her friend who is also "different".  He looks out for Aven and helps her with some daily tasks to make school easier for her.  Aven looks out for him too!  They both know they are different, but are ready to accept each other and others too.    When you are different, you stand out among the crowd.  Teens in High School often do not welcome "standing out" or being different.

Add hormones to the mix and you get a volatile situation at times.  If you are not a strong person to begin with, this can knock you down and send you into a dark place.  Self doubt, and anguish take the place of joy and excitement.  All of a sudden stomach aches, headaches and fear rule the teen's life.  Parents need to be aware that stress in teens can take the form of real pain.

Being able to talk about their anxiety and angst is one of the biggest ways we can help our children.  Giving them books to read with messages of encouragement and acceptance is a way to open doors to discuss their own personal "issues".

Our children (of all ages) need to know that we are supporting them in their everyday experiences and that they can talk to us about anything.  If you want more information on Mental Health Issues in Teens there is a great article by HealthyChildren.org 

Opening doors to communication is the best way to keep our children learning about themselves and their peers.  Whether they are able bodied, disabled, gifted, special needs or just plain awesome, we need to celebrate our Diversity and accept everyone for who they are.

Let's all make pre-teen and teen angst a thing of the past.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, may you celebrate your Similarities and your Diversities with Joy!




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15 comments:

  1. Happy Thanksgiving 🦃 to you too Olivia

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    1. Thank you Mary Beth and to your family may every blessing pour down upon you all.

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  2. I agree that it is important for all children, whatever age, to accept the differences in each other. This is most important in the teen years. Children can be cruel (such as bullying), if those who are going through their own growing up problems. These books, and I'm sure others like them, would be a big help, not only for those kids who ARE different in one way or another, but for those who come in contact with them. Empathy can play a big part (the 'shoe on the other foot' area) and any help books and talks from parents and respected adults can only help. Good review, Olivia.

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    1. Thank you for your kind comments, I agree totally and hope that these books may open some much needed dialogue that parents and children can have. Sometimes we don't know how to express ourselves and sometimes it's our teens who don't have the words to explain their concerns. With these tools hopefully that will be the key to open the door!

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  3. One of the most important character and compassion qualities we can help nurture in children is the embrace of differences (what I like to think of as special strengths). Thank you for featuring ways to do this. Kindness and compassion go a long way in life (towards others and towards self). Thriving depends on these things.

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    1. Oh I so agree and we need more ways to encourage these traits in our children. Even with all the anti-bullying campaigns in our schools and public areas, this still seems to be a problem for many. Let's at least discuss the problem and help come up with life plans to help each other.

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  4. Happy Thanksgiving Olivia. I had not heard of this author or these books. I will definitely look for them. I agree that opening doors of communication with kids (in large part by listening and not lecturing) is a supremely important thing to do.

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you too Dawn Rae! I really like these books because they are NOT preachy, yet they get an important message across in a way that let's young people feel what Aven is going through and I'm sure they will feel those emotions themselves. Open doors to communication are a must in our world, but sometimes hard to do. These books at least try to get the key in the door.....

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  5. Teaching kids the importance of celebrating diversity and extending friendship, respect and kindness to children with different abilities than theirs is of paramount importance. Those lessons are gift that will keep on giving, and have a ripple effect on everyone else whose lives they touch, for the rest of their lives.

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    1. Oh Margaret I so agree with you. When we befriend someone who is "different" that ourselves, we learn from their experiences as well as our own. Those lessons will stay with them forever.

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  6. I had not heard of these books before either. I can't imagine the difficulties and the constant struggle not having arms. I can see how Aven would be an inspiration for all of us, regardless of age.

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    1. Syvestermouse, I found these books very readable even at my age. They do not talk down to anyone and they really should be read by both parents and children. Aven is an inspiration for sure and makes you want to try for just a few moments, to see what life would be like without arms. I tried to get my shoes on and could not! It did give me a whole new level of admiration for our young heroine.

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  7. Until reading this review I hadn't heard of the books. Lessons for everyone in them I'm sure. Getting kids to read books to help them put their own struggles in perspective is a terrific idea. We think of this approach for very young kids, reading Bernstain Bears I mean, but the pre-teen stage doesn't normally get the bedtime story lessons. I'll be making a note of this article.

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    1. Thank you Barbara. Teen years can be some of the hardest to get through. So many changes not only in schools, but physically, mentally and emotional growth, can be very upsetting for young people. I found these books to be entertaining and help to put things into perspective when young minds think tomorrow can be the end of their world. They really are good reads even for parents and grandparents.

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  8. If only life were easy! These books sound like a good resource for teenagers who are struggling with angst, Olivia.

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