Follow the Child- Absolutely Essential-
Does not Stop at a Certain Age
“In just the five years between 2010 and 2015, the number of U.S. teens who felt useless and joyless – classic symptoms of depression – surged 33 percent in large national surveys. Teen suicide attempts increased 23 percent. Even more troubling, the number of 13- to 18-year-olds who committed suicide jumped 31 percent.”
What a challenge this presents for us almighty knowledgeable adults who always know best and confirm it by correcting, advising, guiding, and redirecting. It is such a challenging concept to follow a child academically, emotionally, and physically.
“I pay for riding lessons- what do you mean he does not want to get on the horse?”
“Stay out of the mud, I do not feel like cleaning the car.”
And in schools: “Sit still and eyes on the board.”
My favorite: “Let’s all go to the bathroom” (because obviously 30 students all have to go at the same time…) and it continues when we try to ‘educate’ our teenagers and try to fit them into a school system and society that wants them to be responsible and productive members of society -however denies them every right and chance to find themselves and explore who they are.
Teen depression on the rise- and we wonder why?
When we work with people with autism, we realize that they often have different ways of communicating. If we are trained and caring, we try to figure out their way of communicating and we try to understand.
For our neurotypical children and adolescents, we often neglect to even try to understand what they are trying to express. We expect so much from them and put so much pressure. This is an insight into the mind of a teen who almost did not make it. She is still around because Rupert opened the parent's mind and challenged perspective. Let it be an inspiration for us to “Follow the Child!”
“A Change in the World: Teach self love and its importance
All our lives teens are taught to get good grades, stay away from drugs, and excel at a particular hobby, but over all this time we are never taught how to love ourselves. If the school systems would be more encouraging and far less demanding then perhaps that would offer opportunities for students to get out and find themselves. It’s ridiculous that we are in school for 12+ years and yet we lack a most basic skill, we are taught some information that we will never use but we are never taught how to love. Without this self love lives are ruined, personal ones and the ones around them. I for one, struggled greatly with self acceptance because of the people I surrounded myself with and the expectations I set for myself. I know I am not the only one. This world needs to change.
School covers its bases, it teaches you what you need to pass the tests, but it doesn’t teach us basic life skills that could define our lives. It doesn’t teach us to thrive in this cruel, judgemental world. Everyday we are taught a new skill in every class and sometimes we get tested. It’s a monotonous routine that everyone is used to by now, but we shouldn’t be. That shouldn’t be all we take away from a place that we go to for the majority of our childhood. As a student I know I’m not alone when I say that the homework we are given is overwhelming, and when added to our home chores and basic survival needs, like eating and sleeping, students are granted a slim chance of really doing as they wish. Everyday we are forced to do things that we do not particularly like and that takes away from who we are, as students aren’t given a chance to express themselves in an area they enjoy. I’m not saying that school doesn’t help at all, because it does have extracurriculars and after school clubs, however I am saying that it doesn’t do enough.
Adolescents may have a chance to express themselves in art class and sport practices, but that only solves one problem. A crucial part to loving oneself is being at peace with how one looks and how they feel, so if adolescents are constantly going without time to rest, our moods drop, we gain weight, we no longer have a sense of self love. School is teaching us algebra and chemistry but it isn’t giving us enough time to know how to survive in the real world. After high school we are used to real world work loads, but our personalities have had about no time to develop. Which is why so many students change their college majors, about 75% in fact. We are so overwhelmed with the pressures of school and home life that we have no time to discover who we are and what we love.
Among the pressures of school and home we also have the pressures of society. Society is a dreadful reality. It’s the world we are all living in now and it’s a world that grows as soon as we graduate. Through social media, society places unrealistic expectations on how a person should look, act, and even feel. Adolescents feel obligated to meet these expectations and when they don’t, they feel a sense of failure that they cannot recover from. If students were given time to accept themselves and everyone around them, then the world wouldn’t be made up of such merciless hatred. This society is brewed from the self hatred of teenagers or even children. When they cannot feel good about themselves, they make others feel bad. Schools tolerate this and some don’t even get involved until it’s physical bullying. So if high school is supposed to prepare us for the real world, and bullying is tolerated, then there’s no reason why bullying shouldn’t be tolerated in the real world, right?
Wrong! This is not okay, everyone should be allowed to be themselves without feeling in danger. No wonder there’s so much self-hatred among teenagers these days. Schools need to enforce their no bullying signs. School isn’t only about stopping the hatred though, it also needs to be utilized to build people up. To teach us how to love ourselves. In fact, let me tell you my story with self love.
When I was five I learned to ride a bike with two wheels. When I was eight I learned to say thank you in six languages and when I was thirteen I started learning algebra and biology. However, when I entered eighth grade I started struggling. Wondering why I didn’t look like the girls in movies, and why I didn’t act like the girls in my friend group. I was so very confused. Why was I living in a world where I didn’t belong? During my freshman year I started giving up. I missed 156 classes and it didn’t even phase me. My grades began to drop and I got the first C I’ve ever had. So, there I was, 15 years old, no academic potential, wasted sports ability, part of a friend group where I knew I’d never belong.
I had officially given up hope. In my sophomore year I missed 186 classes and some days I couldn’t even leave my bed. It was hopeless, I was hopeless. Until I wasn’t. I started talking to Trudy. Trudy was the only person who would understand and she made me see how much hatred I was filled with. I was filled with hatred of myself and this world, I was blaming all this darkness on the world when I really just needed to focus on myself. Trudy taught me to say no when I didn’t want to say yes, she taught me that my personal health comes before all else, and she taught me that I need to respect myself just as I’d respect my best friend.
This education I received was more helpful than any history or language I could ever learn. What I learned from Trudy changed my life and filled me with light. She and I are still working on self acceptance, but in 3 months I have learned more life skills from her than I ever have from school.
So, that’s my story, and it’s not unlike many others. Why don’t we teach this at school? Nearly 20% of students deal with depression before they graduate high school. If that’s not a big enough number for you, here’s one: every 100 minutes a teenager dies from suicide. These kids are begging for help and no one can tell that they’re drowning, but no one is going to ask. Additionally, not many of these students ask for help because it’s embarrassing, and presumed weak among those who are in trouble.
So, we need to offer free, mandatory guides to help these students get through the rough patch. It all starts with self-acceptance and eventually self-love. No bullying, world peace, equality among everyone, all these are radical ideas that sound extreme, but going to the core of these problems, they can be solved with love, that love of selves and others. Help change the world for the better, love yourself.” by C.R 15 years old