Normalising Teen Emotions

We’re introducing Nancy Radford as a guest to our articles page to talk about feelings young people experience leaving home for the first time.  So we’ve called the article – Normalising Teen Emotions.

We know this time of year up to October is difficult for our teenagers for a number of reasons, GCSEs, A Levels, making choices about university, or whether to enter the world of work.  Particularly from the age of sixteen to nineteen can be a difficult period in the lives of young people.  Sometimes they think their fears, apprehension or anxiety is only being experienced by them, and peers or friends are so much more confident or have it all sussed!

We’ve asked Nancy to share her expertise to demonstrate these emotions are completely normal.  We all feel scared, worried or some level of anxiety when big change or something important is about to happen.

Nancy is a specialist in early conflict resolution, accredited as a civil and commercial mediator, and qualified as a trainer, business coach and personal coach. Her varied career included nursing, midwifery, business ownership, management and training, and all her roles involve helping others achieve their potential.


You’ve been thinking about leaving home for such a long time. Everyone says how excited you must be about the new opportunity. You are, and yet…behind the happy face, you have some worries.

Excited but Doubtful

Normalising Teen Emotions

You don’t want to say anything to your parents because your mum is already sure that you will starve or not be able to manage and your dad says “You’ll be fine.” Your friends seem to be super excited and looking forward to it, you don’t want them to think you are immature.

So you keep it all buried inside you.  Your thoughts go round and round. What should I wear? What if no one wants to be friends? I might not like the food. What happens if I’m sick? Outside you are pretending everything is fine because, of course, no one else feels that way…

You know what, nearly everyone feels nervous about such a big change–they just don’t admit it.  So how do others keep cool?

Leaving Home

First, acknowledge how you feel and accept that it is because you are normal. I’ve worked with lots of students at the very start of their independent lives and they’ve all felt a least a bit scared or worried. You’re not weird or pathetic. Be honest with yourself.

Next, look at those fears and worries. The Worry Wart exercise helps you put your worries into perspective. All you need is a big sheet of paper, a packet of post-it notes, and a bit of time (how long will depend on how many worries you have).

If thinking of your worries gets you stressed, stop for a minute. Close your eyes, breathe slowly and think of something you enjoy. Keep doing this until you feel your heart rate slow down.

If you want others to trust you to manage, ask for help with specific things and tell them the things you don’t need help with. Although this seems odd, research shows that asking for help increases trust.

Building Reserves

Life is easier if we have a fallback position–like savings for a rainy day. Having some emergency reserves is a great idea if you are leaving home.  I’m not just talking about money, a stash of biscuits or chocolate, but ideas for what to do when things don’t go well. What will you do if you’re feeling down? Who can you call? You can actually build up your psychological reserves too. Store up some great memories that you can escape into when things are a bit bleak. Make collage for your wall of your friends and family.

ZorBuddha is a free programme that just takes 5 minutes in the morning and 5 at night. It’s based on research in behavioural science and positive psychology and helps you build up resilience, recognise the good and find sources of support.

Finally, here are two reminder cards to help you go from  Sad to GLAD and BounceBack.

And if your parents need some tips, give them this link.

 

07980 920 078 [email protected] www.nancyradford.com

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