I need your help with "At Risk" Teenagers

[cite] Lynn Cornish:[/cite]Lately it's been even slower than usual. After the Trading Spouses episode it was hectic and so now we appreciate the calm.

Welcome to the site! It's quality, not quantity here, I've noticed. If I don't have something to say, I don't say anything (thank your lucky stars for that!), but I'm always reading.

Thanks for your reply. I am not reading anything except commentaries on the Tao Te Ching as I am working on a book about it.

Last book I read was, "How We Believe", by Michael Shermer.

My wife reads all the time.

One of my most favorite books is "Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice", by Plotkin.


  • edited December 1969
    Hi everyone out there in TAO LAND. I need your help. As you know from my profile I am a volunteer math and science tutor for a local high school. I am assisting someone in building an "at risk" teenager program to help "at risk" teenagers in high schools. An "at risk" teenager is at the point of quiting school and possibly getting into gangs, drugs etc. or have already been there and back. Hopefully by helping them to discover themselves and others before they kill or shot high school administrative staff, which just recently happened in my state of Tennessee.
    Part of our design for this program is to reduce teenager stress by offering teenagers relaxation techiques etc. We want to incorporate the Four Noble Trurhs, 8-Fold path and the Tao Te Ching into this program so that teenagers can better cope with their problems. Of course we have to design this process in the language for a teenager. We want to get them to focus in the NOW etc., and offer any possibility of "spiritual growth" if they wish to go that way. Of course this has to be done without mentioning our wise old friends Buddha and Lao Tzu.
    Do you have any suggestions or comments?

    Thank you for your input. I really enjoy this web site and I bet there are a lot or good ideas out there!
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    I'm wondering if they could benefit from learning mindfulness meditation, simply as a technique, rather than a spiritual philosophy. I've been doing it for about 8 months, in the context of Tai Chi. I've really been noticing some good benefits, in terms of staying in the "here and now".

    I think part of the reason it's been beneficial is the technique isn't about mentally analyzing things, which often doesn't go any farther than a mental exercise. I think of it operating at the "cellular" level, which I find manifests in reality, not in my illusions about "the wonders of meditation". I'm doing it within my "faith/belief" in Taoist/Buddhist principles.

    I've introduced my 10 yr. old daughter to the concept of mindfulness. I asked her if she ever had times where her thoughts got carried away, and she didn't pay attention to whatever she was doing at the time. She had plenty of examples of that happening. I think relating mindfulness in that way, as opposed to more complicated spiritual ideas, is something that each of us can identify with, which might help it be more accepted as something possibly worth learning.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Allandnone:[/cite]
    1... building an "at risk" teenager program to help reduce teenager stress by offering teenagers relaxation techniques etc.

    2... incorporate the Four Noble Truths, 8-Fold path and the Tao Te Ching into this program so that teenagers can better cope with their problems.

    3... Of course we have to design this process in the language for a teenager.

    4... We want to get them to focus in the NOW etc.,

    Through my fog I see a few things to consider, at least first. Questions really...

    1) Why are they stressed? Conflict of needs is the core cause of stress. Fight or flight. Spend or save. Offering kids an opportunity to ask, and answer, these questions of themselves might engage their interest. Without their interest nothing will work!

    2) This works when the adults involved incorporate these, model them in their interaction with the kids. Then as the process of discovery grows between all involved, investigating and describing the 'approach' in a way which makes sense to them, i.e., rings true to their experience. Thus avoiding the cliche's and talking points which only resonate with the already 'brainwashed'... :lol:

    3) Ensure that your "design" conforms to what they perceive as their needs. 'You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink' is profoundly applicatble.

    4) "Now"? That is the teenager's problem. They are 'lost in now'. When we fail to sense [chref=14]the thread running through the way[/chref], all that is left is 'now' and all the sensory stimulation and instinctive drives which bring 'now' alive. That balances out just fine in the wild. However, our civilized existence drowns out our sense of this thread. This poverty of connection in us is a leading cause of stress and running in the 'now'.

    So how to reconnect? With infants and decades, I have some experience to go by. But your situation? Whew! I guess points 1,2,3 above are my best guess for now. You are tackling the greatest challenge I can think of. It is one thing getting your own act together (it only took me most of 50 years). Attempting to assist others, and teenagers to boot, is another. I imagine that the social aspect will be deeply influential. Some 'charismatic' [chref=65]hoodwinking[/chref] by the 'sages' (that's you guys), and how closely you can [chref=22]model[/chref] the way is key, eh?

    If you come across any specific issue, perhaps a specific idea might pop to mind? Needless to say, good luck Allandnone!
  • edited December 1969
    Carl thank you for the advice. I will spend time looking at your references and considering what you have said. The teenager "NOW" really has me thinking, scary. You have brought up very good points to consider. It has also taken me many years to get where I am today with Zen Buddhism etc., and I still fail!!! But, I get up , smile, and try again. :wink:
  • edited December 1969
    My two cents: I agree with Joe. Give them the experience of mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, some direct experience of awareness practice. That would be the most straight forward way and, I think, the most likely to succeed. We all have the potential; it's just the seed that needs planting. I found meditation as a young woman and in my life, once that seed got planted there was no going back.
  • edited December 1969
    im way late on offering my 2 cents, and i apologize foir that-from 16 years of working in juvy corrctions, and having raised an at risk child as my own flesh and blood for the last 6, i have a few ideas of what works-its fairly simple-be hard but fair, consistancy is the key-promise nothing you cant deliver-these kids believe in nothing, and one more broken promise just builds the wall highr-kids, especially teens, need time to process input-dont expect an immediate answer, and dont trust any immediate reaction they show-they hear everything even if it appears they're not listening-and man, do they see everything!
    when you're wrong, admit it and explain it to them-keep explanations short-dont come across as an expert, just as soemone who has experience and learns from it-recognize and support their interests and gifts.
    be realistic-too many social programs and do gooder workers give a rse colkored view of the world and this doesnt help these kids one bit-porepare them for the rerwl world, hard, ugly but with some beuty mixed in-life is hard, but its harder if you're stupid...
    -expose them to a wide range of interests, but dont expect them to like soemthing just because you do. encourage them to develop their own system of beliefs, not just copy those of their family and friends...
    im too hard on the lil darlings where i work and my career may be drawing to a close, whether i want it to or not-but i know that over the years ive recieved more phone calls from former clients telling me my approach was the best, the truest and helped them the most, and thanking me-thats my real paycheck. good luck.
  • edited December 1969
    It is never to late! Thank you for your advise. I am in agreement with you. I do not have the exposure or experience that you have with these kids, I tutor kids on a one to one basis and have just started exposing teenagers to understanding their personality dynamics by building Forensic Science teams etc. I will keep your advise in mind. Most kids are emotional-physical and physical- emotional which means they need to develop the mental principle, the thinking and detachment from their emotions. I think this is also true for most adults! I am a perfect example. I think it takes life experiences to finally get that mental principle to kick in.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Buddy1:[/cite]...too many social programs and do gooder workers give a rose colored view of the world and this doesn?t help these kids one bit-prepare them for the realworld world, hard, ugly but with some beauty mixed in-life is hard, but its harder if you're stupid...

    ...im too hard on the lil darlings where i work and my career may be drawing to a close....

    Good advice! About 25 years ago we were going to start a group home for teens with much the same approach as you talk about. The more we looked into it, the more we realized we?d be bucking the government authorities (and their ?do gooder rose colored? paradigm) far too much. We decided this would dilute the [chref=5]ruthless[/chref] foundation of our approach, making it impossible to carry out.

    Anyway, it is wonderful that you lasted this long Buddy. And, well, who knows what is to come.
  • edited December 1969
    Hi Carl,
    I thought you might find this news article interesting. It is about Charter Schools that help kids that are alcoholics or drug users. There seems to be a lot more freedom of approach to the problem than the general public school system. I wonder how many of these kids are in trouble because of a dysfuctional family situation? My guess is ithe problem starts with the parents and effects the kids. What do you think?
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Allandnone:[/cite] My guess is the problem starts with the parents and effects the kids. What do you think?

    Just a quick ABSOLUTELY! Anyway, all my experience points that way. The problem is that the parents are dysfunctional. The society is dysfunctional. Not because anyone wanted it that way; it is simply what happens when we [chref=16] wilfully innovate, while ignorant of the constant.[/chref] And this is very easy to do because the constant is only knowable through [chref=2]the teaching that uses no words[/chref]. What's a monkey to do? :lol:

    Right now I'm off to play music. I shall soon read the article and say more if something comes to mind. Good to hear from you; it has been awhile. I hope all it well.
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