How to Confront FOMO...
Fear of missing out. This is something that all high school students face at one time or another. We’ve all been in a situation where we had to cancel plans because our workload became too overwhelming, or we were unable to go hang out with friends due to a prior commitment. While social media, in some cases, can be a connector or social facilitator, it also gives us access to see a stream of posts from events to which we are not invited. This can be pretty upsetting. Here are a couple of quick ways to help minimize FOMO.
Clear your social media feeds. We feel like there is an unspoken rule that we must follow or add any person to which we have a small connection. For example, if you stumble across the profile of someone who goes to the same school as you, regardless of whether or not you have spoken a single word to that person, you may feel as though you have to hit the “follow” button. Once you have access to their posts, you can go scrolling, and will find a feed full of them and their friends. Seeing this posts does nothing to provide you with a sense of fulfillment, so why do we scroll through their profiles? The reality is, if you don’t follow that person, it doesn’t matter. It’s a single follower- they probably won’t even give it a second thought. Recently, I went through the people I follow on my instagram, and unfollowed 200 people who were simply clogging my feed. If you really cannot bring yourself to unfollow the people who don’t add substance to your life, there are ways to mute their posts.
Changing your mindset does wonders too. As teenagers, we feel as though we are constantly competing for everything- the highest grades in class, college acceptances etc., social ranking feels no different. A lot of us think of it as a hierarchy: losers on the bottom, popular people on the top. Some people fear that if we are unable to attend some group plans, soon enough we will be forgotten, the invitations will stop coming, and we’ll start to tumble down the social pyramid. This simply is not true. Even if you can’t attend certain events, there will be others to attend, and, if anything your friends will miss you, for each individual brings different characteristics to the group dynamic. Something we often fail to understand is that our friend’s connection with another person does not nullify our own friendship- they are simply two different connections, which formed and are being sustained in different ways- no two friendships are exactly the same. It is important to recognize that we are not alone in our experiences with FOMO, and that your value stems from your own unique qualities- not from number of party invitations.
Sara Goldstein is a high school junior in the San Fernando Valley. In her free time, she loves spending time with her friends, engaging in social activism, reading, writing, and dancing.
Unspoken Communication, The Silent Definer
Most of the time when we think about communication with our kids/teens, it’s in the words that we’re using or the body language that we’re presenting. I’d like to talk about the other ways that we’re communicating. One in particular… as it has been at the top of all the headline news recently.
When we pay for our children to pass tests, or purposefully break the law with them to get them into college, we are communicating loud and clear the unspoken message that says, “You are not capable, I don’t believe in you, you can’t do this on your own power, I have to protect you from the world so you don’t get hurt, you have to be as good as me or better, you have to represent the family in a certain light, etc.”
Unfortunately, parents don’t understand how debilitating this is to a child, or they would never go to the crazy extents to generate great things happening, or overly protect them from life. I would say that 100% of the people that I’ve worked with in rehab or my private practice had a message from a parent/caregiver that in some way conveyed that impression of their identity.
Some of the clients who have had the most challenges are the ones who feel entitled. They have never had to clean their room, there were maids for that. They never had to work for a living, money was given without earning. They were bailed out of bad situations with no consequence. Many learned that they use their family status to promote their self-interest rather than their own personal value. For most they never had to go through the hard moments of life that help us define and own our strength.
To be clear, children aren’t born dysfunctional, this “messaging or programing” goes back to the period of 0 to 8 years in a child’s life. At that stage they are taking on their identity, what they believe about themselves and how they are to act in the world. On a quick side note, just to make this a little easier to deal with, I’ll say that we all took on the programs of our minds. So, don’t blame your parents too much, they took on the thinking and beliefs from their parents, your grandparents, who learned from their parents and so on further down the genealogical line.
There was an incident that happened when my first daughter was growing up that really shows what I mean by unspoken communication in action. We had a playdate with a mother and her son. He was about 5 years old at the time, and quite a wonderful kid. We were getting ready to leave, and she got down on the floor and put on his shoes for him. I was a bit surprised, and I asked her why she did it. She said that it just takes too long. We weren’t in a hurry, and I could see a look of embarrassment on his face as he looked at my daughter when she said it. Seemed like quite the jab to his self-confidence. Life is about learning the little things and moving forward one achievement at a time, if a child is able to dress themselves, let them. You’re the parent, budget into your time for those precious moments for them to learn and feel proud of their accomplishments. Be patient, they will get quicker as they gain confidence.
The same thing goes for homework. The teachers know when the parent has done the assignment or project. When you take it over because of your ideas on how it should look, you are telling them that they’re not good enough, clever enough… capable. I really had to learn this one myself, my daughters can attest to the amount of perfectionism I’ve had to let go of!
Another example is when they are teens and going to take the driver’s test. If they are able to drive a car, they are quite capable to set it all up. They can call the DMV, set up driving appointments and testing time. If they want it bad enough, they will get it done, and be proud of themselves in the process.
Basically, if you know that they can accomplish the task, have them do it.
They can build confidence and skills by being a part of the family community and doing chores. When this is carried out, they learn the ability of how to take care of their own home when they become an adult. In the process you can teach them to meditate while doing the unconscious act of cleaning, folding clothes, etc. Or, you can make it a fun time, put the music up loud and dance in the process. Get creative. Believe it or not, this can be a great time for family bonding.
To put it all in a nutshell, I always go back to my idea that if we were all talked to and taught like we were the Dalai Lama then the world would be a much different place. At a very young age he became, “The Chosen One”. They let him know that he is special and gifted. They treated him with kindness and showed him a path of enlightenment as his life’s practice. He was encouraged with love. Then, he became the man that could be an amazing compassionate and conscious leader who shares such a valuable message of love.
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ~Dalai Lama
“When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength. Thanks to the teachings of Buddha, I have been able to take this second way.” ~Dalai Lama
“I find hope in the darkest of days and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” ~Dalai Lama
In in closing, communicate with intention.
Remember that your every action is communication to your kids.
Trust in their ability to own their intelligence, power and confidence.
Teach them the life skills that they will need to maintain their own life when they leave the safety of your nest.
Remember, they are in the back seat and watching more of what you do than what you say. Keep adjusting your behavior to be the example you would have liked to have learned from.
Treat them as you would have wanted to be treated, and if you’re not sure, treat them like they were the chosen one and love them silly.
If you’ve had a moment of communicating badly, have compassion for yourself and the ones involved, learn from it and move on. We’re all just doing the best we can in any given moment. Let go and be the better version of you and set the example for them to follow.
Audrey Newmont, Hypnotherapist, Spiritual Practitioner and Author
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So, it happened again. Another mass shooting in America. Where was it? Who did it? How many people died? Do I know anybody who died? When is this going to end? How do I assure my kids that they are safe to go to school and to the movies?
These are all valid questions that come up when shootings occur. Just recently in Thousand Oaks, California, at Borderline Bar and Grill 12 people were killed in a shooting. A Place that is supposed to be safe and fun for college students turned into a nightmare. Unfortunately, this is becoming the new norm and kids and parents alike are becoming habituated to these terrible tragedies. At the core of talking to a child, one question seems to come up the most, “Why do people want to hurt us?” Depending on the age of your child, the approach to talking to them varies.
Witnessing coverage of mass shootings or any tragedy can cause psychological harm to younger children, specifically under the age of eight. This is because up to this age it is hard for children to differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy. Even kids older than eight can have negative psychological impacts of frequent exposure to violence portrayed on the news such as fear anxiety, anger, and depression. This is especially the case for highly graphic footage of violent acts. In fact, people believe that gaining the most information possible about an event helps them process and cope with it. This is not the case. The more adults and children alike expose themselves to violent footage of these mass shootings the less resilient, more stressed, and more terrified they actually become. Therefore, it is important to limit both you and your child’s exposure to gather the needed information to talk to your child about what happened.
The next step is to allow a full expression of feelings for your child or adolescent. It is very common to want to tell our kids that “everything is going to be okay” and “don’t worry about it,” however; this does not promote a healthy expression of emotions. For younger children or adolescents who have trouble identifying their emotions it can be helpful to print out activities that name different emotions and can help than identify their emotions. In addition letting your children know that feeling any emotion is a completely normal reaction and that allowing themselves to fully experience and not distract from said emotions is important to allowing them to process what has happened.
Another area of importance is to practice not placing blame in situations like these but focusing on common humanity. Letting your kids know that the majority of people want a community filled with peace, safety, and love can help bring stabilization to you and your child’s lives.
With the common humanity comes the last portion of talking to your children about mass shootings: Channeling our feelings into positive action. It is healthy to channel all of our sadness, anger, frustration, and grief into setting up fundraisers for victim’s families, lobbying against gun violence, and also to model for your children that it is okay to take a day or two off from normal life to take care of themselves. This may look like going to the gym, treating themselves to their favorite food or dessert, or maybe spending some money on an item they really wanted. In addition going with your kids to events that endorse improving your community, whether it is related to gun violence or not, will empower both you and your child and is a positive outlet to channel emotions. Events can include fundraisers, blood drives, religious gatherings, and many other creative options that you and your child can help create.
Utilizing all of these steps can help us talk to our children about gun violence after mass shootings. Using these techniques will not make things any easier to process, however, will help appropriately model how to deal with a flush of many different emotions at once and how we can deal and channel these emotions into doing good for ourselves and our community.
Andrew Cohen is an AMFT who works as a case coordinator at Engage Therapy and a Therapist at Paradigm Malibu. He received his M.S in counseling psychology with an emphasis in marital and family therapy at California Lutheran University in 2018 and has grown up in the Thousand Oaks community his whole life. Andrew is passionate in working with OCD, Trauma, and a wide array of mental health and systemic issues. In his free time, Andrew enjoys spending time with his Fiancé and dog watching LA Kings games.
As a bullying expert who has worked with several children and teens who have been bullied, I am often asked questions such as, “Why do other kids want to hurt me?” and “What motivates kids to be cruel to each other?”
There are a few common reasons why children bully:
They’ve been bullied themselves.
Bullies often have their own wounds to heal. Kids who were previously bullied may attempt to heal by hurting others. When there are other bullies involved, they may do this to attempt to shift the focus so that someone else is bullied and not them. Or, a bully may try to make themselves feel better by hurting someone else.
They’re modeling behavior from a parent or other adult.
Children often model what they see. There may be role-modeling at home or other places where the bully observes similar behavior from others. Bullies may live in a home environment where they witness bullying going on or have been raised to handle situations and connect with people in an antagonistic manner. Read the common ways adults hinder bullying prevention.
They’re trying to gain attention or popularity.
Children may bully as an attempt to win approval from others or to get others to like them. A bully may use his negative behavior toward another person to try to get a positive response from others. For an example, a bully may humiliate or make fun of someone as an attempt to get others to laugh.
They feel entitled.
An entitled child is one who has been given too much power, usually from home. Often, entitled children have been raised without limitations and with no rules that are enforced. These children may believe they have a right to bully others at school since that’s how they get their way at home. An entitled child puts the needs of themselves before the needs of others.
They lack empathy.
Empathy is to be aware and understand someone else’s feelings by understanding their perspective. Children are not born with empathy. It’s often a skill that is taught at home. One of the best ways that children can learn to be empathetic is by having it modeled to them.
How bullies choose their targets.
The reason bullies pick certain kids to hurt varies in rationale. There are certain risk factors that may make a child more likely to be bullied. These include physical, emotional and relational factors. When kids are different in how they look, act or respond, a bully may see this as an easy target to hurt. Bullies prey on those who they perceive as weaker. An example may be a sensitive kid who may be emotional and react easily to situations. A bully can pick up on this and use to their advantage.
What children should do if faced with a bully.
Children should try not to provide bullies with a reaction, whether they are being bullied online or in-person. Unless the bully is being physically aggressive, it is best to not engage with any reactivity of response, emotions or let them know that what they are saying is hurting them.
The best thing that a person who is being bullied can do during the attack is to remove themselves from the situation as quickly as possible. Walk away, or if it’s online, get off. Kids that are cyberbullied should write a note or send a private message to the bully to ask them to stop. They should NOT respond to the post under any conditions. Click here for more ways to address cyberbullying.
As I share in my The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying book, parents or a trusted adult should use the Three E’s (Empathy, Empowerment and Engagement) to talk to their kids after bullying. While kids cannot control how any person will act or respond, they can control their own actions and how the bully makes them feel. By not responding to a bully, a child is controlling the reaction that the bully receives. Bullies that don’t receive the reaction that they’re looking for will often stop.
Children and parents should know that they are not alone. They can be empowered to stand up to bullies. No one ever needs to stay in a powerless place. It’s also important to remember that children who bully are still children. While their behavior should not be condoned, they too, need help and guidance from adults. Parents of bullies and victims should use The Three E’s to help the bullying stop.
Empathy, empowerment and engagement can help your child overcome and begin to heal from the bullying. It can also help your child not give the bullies the reactions that they’re seeking. If your child continues to seem depressed and/or the bullying is unable to be resolved, it’s important to seek professional help to address these issues and develop strategies to address the bullying. I am always available for assistance and you can click here if you’d like to schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who treats bully victims and their families and educates schools, medical professionals and the community about the bullying epidemic. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on FOX, ABC and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio.
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