Health and Well-Being: Blogging Through COVID Together – Connecting with Teens
May 4, 2020
This is a tough time for everyone, and it might be particularly difficult for teens. They can’t take part in usual extra-curricular activities like playing team sports, going out to the movies, or just hanging out with their friends. They are most likely spending more time in their homes which may be adding more stress on themselves and other family members. For some teens, it may be a time with more opportunities to discover new passions. For others, it may be a time of difficulty.
This week, the District is pleased to have a guest speaker to help us through this challenging time. Steve Wilson, is a Strength and Conditioning and Wellness teacher at Walnut Grove Secondary. He is also a parent and can use his life experiences to help in his professional practice.
We hope you enjoy this video blog which focuses more on connecting with teens.
“All right, Langley School District families: Steve Wilson coming to you from my garage — of all places! And, if you’re smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 funk, like our house is, this might be the only place that you can find some peace and quiet.
“And, believe it or not, it’s actually one of my happy places. And, hopefully you’ll see the relevance of why it’s important to me to be sharing this message with you from my garage! And I hope it’s something you can take with you into the relationships, and most importantly, the connections that you have with your kids in your homes, currently.
“Now, it wasn’t intended to be from my garage, and it was supposed to be from outside. But, it’s pouring rain outside; and legitimately, I’m going to set a timer, because I could easily ramble on for a long time about this, because it’s an area I’m very passionate about. So, I’m going to set it for seven minutes.
“So, as far as we get is what we get. And, not to mention, if it’s like my house, you maybe get seven minutes of peace and quiet without somebody rampaging through the door saying they need something.
“Now, like I said, the garage is a happy place for me. And you can see hanging behind me, it’s an area filled with passion. Something that I’ve been doing for the last twenty years, and something that I hope to be doing for many more years to come.
“But, now as a guy in my early forties with a young family, the doing it for years to come has become significantly more important. I want to share why that is, and, hopefully encourage you to find something that you’re passionate about. And, ideally, you’ll see the reason why.
“Now, the other day, when the weather was nicer, my garage door was up, like it always is. And I had a bike in the work stand, and I was working away, and a good neighbour of mine walked by. And, he had his two kids in tow.
“We were doing our socially distant hello, as everybody is kind of doing during this time. And he said something that really, really, hit me, and I want to share that with you.
“And that’s: he yelled into my garage, and he said. ‘Hey Wilson!’ He says, ‘When you gonna sell all those and grow up a little bit!’
“I thought, oh my goodness! ‘Sell all those and grow up a little bit.’
“Why would I ever do that?
“The things that are hanging on the wall behind me are, in my life and in my world, are the thing that is binding me to my kids. It is deepening the relationship that I have with them during a very challenging time like COVID-19.
“Now, I’ve got the benefit of my kids being a little younger. So, they’re still connected to us quite strongly, and they’re relatively reliant on us. But, I teach a chunk of your teenagers, and there are plenty of teachers around Langley School District teaching the rest of them. And, what we’re hearing, and maybe what we’re seeing, a little bit, is that there’s a disconnection starting to happen as the COVID funk is now settled in.
“I mean, we’re seeing a little bit less engagement with Microsoft Teams. And, listen, that is not easy to navigate that terrain.
“For us as teachers, on our side, we know going into this that there’s going to be an inherent disconnect that we’re trying to so hard to hang on to. And I know as a parent, working with my kids, working on their online platform, how challenging that can be for you to A: be able to understand and help facilitate what it is they’re supposed to do, but B: how you’re supposed to help them maintain their connection to the building, the school, the teachers, and most importantly the connection to you.
“And that’s where that comment that that fellow made to me the other day about, ‘When are you gonna sell all that and grow up’, that was just like an absolute dagger. Because, the young kids that he had in tow behind him did not need to hear their dad say ‘it’s time to give up’.
“And that’s what I want to talk to you a little bit about. I know the disconnect between adults and our teenage youth seems to be getting bigger. Their worlds are expanding. When you think of the device in their hand, it just becomes exponentially big.
“And yet, when they were little, they seem to thrive on that connection to us, and they look to us for that guidance, and they look to us to share the things that we were passionate about with them.
“Now, there are multitudes of reasons why people become disengaged with things they were once passionate about. Work schedules are challenging, physical limitations become a thing. There’s all sorts of barriers that get in the way.
“But what I really want to do, is I want to encourage you, please, to try and connect with your teenager that’s living in your house on something that you were once passionate about. Maybe the first step is to try and meet them on their ground and try and connect with them on something they’re passionate about.
“My kids upstairs, they want to be involved in things that I don’t know anything about. So, the first step is I say, ‘let’s sit down and look at it together. Teach dad what I need to know about it, and why you’re excited about it.’
“Now half the time it just goes straight over my head. But the fact of the matter is, if I’m showing a willingness to meet them on their ground, I guarantee I’m going to get buy back from them to meet on my ground.
“Now, maybe it’s trying something silly, and maybe it’s saying let’s ball some socks up and let’s try juggling together as a family.
“Yeah! Do something that you’re all going to be bad at. That way you have some laughs about it. That way, the awkwardness is relevant for everybody. Everybody is starting on a level playing field. But what it does is, it shows is a willingness to want to connect and want to engage.
“Now, obviously, during COVID-19, we know how important it is to be getting outside. We’re not made of sugar. We won’t melt.
“Throw your rain jackets on. Encourage. Say, ‘let’s go for a drive. Let’s go find somewhere we’ve never been before. Let’s go drive up a logging road and see where it goes.’
“Now, don’t go bury your sixty-thousand-dollar SUV up the doors in mud. That’s not what I’m saying at all. But what I’m saying is try and wedge your toe in the door of a world that maybe you were once passionate about, or might spark a passion in you, and the youth that live in your house.
“We don’t know when this is going to end. But, I know, and I believe in my heart, that if we’re doing what we can to connect with the kids that live in our homes, through activity and through some area of interest, that’s going to help keep them close to us.
“Because, in uncertain times, every ship needs a captain. And as an adult in your home, regardless of what your role is, the adults have the advantage of their experience to help guide that ship through unknown seas.
“So, get out of your comfort zone. Try to connect a little bit on some level. Fire me an email if you’d like. If this doesn’t connect with you, let me know that, too.
“Because, I need you to know that we’re trying to stay connected to our youth. And you are the most important piece for us, as teachers, to stay connected to your kids.
“If they’re connected to you, they’ll be connected to us. And, at the end of this, hopefully we’ll have a bunch of rich relationships that will help us move forward in whatever the new normal looks like.
“Langley School District is thinking of you. We care about you. We want everybody to be healthy and well. And, it starts with connection.
“Take a small step. I promise, it’ll be worth it.”