Archive of ‘Teens’ category

How To Better Understand An Introvert

When someone hears the terms introvert and extrovert, their initial thought is usually “shy” or “outgoing”. This is a big misconception, especially for introverts. While introverts are quieter and some may even consider themselves shy, this is not something that is universal for all introverts. Introverts typically draw their energy from within and frequently need quiet time to refuel (which may explain the why they are perceived as “shy”), while extroverts draw energy from the outside world, larger social groups, and new experiences. Introverts tend to channel more of their attention to their rich inner lives and like to spend more time alone than extroverts, who prefer to expend their energy connecting with the world around them.

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

Most people fall somewhere along a spectrum, with elements of both introversion and extroversion in their personalities. It can be difficult to identify introversion in teens because they choose to act more extroverted in order to fit in. This can also be true for some adults. Society has become an ideal place for extroverts, and can be exceedingly difficult for introverts to navigate. Group projects, school dances, college parties, or even work parties can be anxiety provoking for an introvert.

Recent research shows the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts is different, and even leads to the use of different neural pathways. The brain processes information, memory, and decision-making along different pathways, mediated by two major brain chemicals – acetylcholine and dopamine. Each of these neurotransmitters starts a different process in the brain, resulting in different behaviors and different rewards for those behaviors. Introverts rely much more on acetylcholine-mediated pathways, resulting in a longer circuit through the frontal lobes of the brain, a longer time in the planning and decision-making mode, and slower memory retrieval. However, they have greater synthesis of information from different parts of the brain. The brain receives chemical boosts or “rewards” for thinking, pondering, focusing on a particular item for study, and concentrating.

Extroverts rely more on the dopamine-mediated pathway, which takes a shorter circuit through the mid-regions of the brain, making more connections in sections that start and stop speaking, trigger interest in others, shift attention quickly focus on the outside world, pleasure, and what’s new and exciting. Dopamine pathways provide powerful rewards that can promote addiction. Findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that extroverts had more blood flow to the back of the brain, while introverts had “higher blood flow to the frontal lobes – home to the system that inhibits behavior and promotes planning and thinking before acting.

It’s important to show the introverts in your life that you support them. Here are a few tips that can help:

  1. Respect – Show the introvert in your life that you respect him or her by not expecting them to change. Introverts often make changes in order to fit in, but they want to be accepted and respected for who they are, especially in their homes.
  2. Down time – When an introvert comes home from school or work, they usually need some down time. This may be sitting in their room alone, watching TV, or playing on their phone. Give them the freedom to do this before asking a million questions or telling them everything you did that day.
  3. Processing time – If you want to have a talk or discussion with an introvert, give them a heads up. Tell the introvert in your life what you would like to talk about and even tell them about specific questions. Introverts need time to process questions and think about their answers.

References:

Aspen Education Group – http://aspeneducation.crchealth.com/article-introverted-teens/


Spending Time with Your Teen During the Holidays

Your kids may be home for the holidays, either on break from college or home from school, and you may be glowing with excitement for this time you will spend together. On the other hand, you may be dreading the extra time with your adolescent, bracing yourself for the increase in arguments, hostility, and general disinterest they may have in family activities.

By: Christel Gilbreath, LCSW

So, how can you be intentional about spending time with your teen that is actually enjoyable for both parties? How do you compete with the friends and the parties and still get quality time?

Here are a few suggestions…

  1.  Get in their world: Instead of expecting your adolescent to do something you find interesting, ask them what they find interesting and join them in it. Maybe they love skateboarding, ask them to give you a one-hour lesson. Maybe they love playing computer games, ask them if you can watch them play and get tips on the game. Maybe you’ll even get lucky and impress them with a new high score!
  2. Give them the “mic”: Set aside time and listen well to what they have to say. Put down your phone, close the laptop, turn off the TV and ask them intentional questions like…
    1. “What is the thing you are most proud of from this semester at school?”
    2. “What was the hardest thing you went through this semester?”
    3. “What were the best and worst things about this past semester?”
  3.  Ask for feedback: The holidays can be a time to reevaluate how you’ve been doing – similar to what businesses do. You may ask your teen, “Is there anything you wish we did differently?” “Is there anything you have been needing from us that you haven’t been getting?”, “What could we do to be more supportive this next year?”, “What has worked in our relationship or our parenting lately?”
  4. Enlist their help: Give them a role in the holiday festivities that helps them feel included and needed. Maybe they are in charge of stuffing the turkey or helping hang the lights. Ask them which to-do list item they would be most excited about doing.
  5. Serve together: You may get some push back and eye rolls at the suggestion to give back, but trudge through and sign up for something. There are plenty of opportunities to serve others around the holidays. These are great opportunities for teens to expand their worldview, get outside of themselves, and create memories together.

Happy holidays!

Spending Time with Your Teen During the Holidays


National Coming Out Day

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

By: Savannah Stoute, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Leslie Larson, LPC-S

Did you know that October 11th is a significant day in LGBT history in the United States? According to the Human Rights Campaign, Every year on October 11th, the United States celebrates the LGBT community with National Coming Out Day. If National Coming Out Day is new to you, you might ask yourself, “why October 11th?” It turns out that on October 11, 1987, about half a million people participated in the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It was the second demonstration in our nation’s capital that resulted in the founding of a number of LGBT organizations, including the National Latino/a Gay and Lesbian Organization (LLEGO’). The momentum continued for four months after this amazing march as more than 100 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists from around the country gathered in Manassas, Va., about 25 miles outside Washington, D.C. Recognizing that the LGBT community often reacted defensively to anti-gay actions, they came up with the idea of a national day to celebrate coming out and chose the anniversary of that second march on Washington to mark it. The originators of the idea were Rob Eichberg and Jean O’Leary. From this idea the National Coming Out Day was born.

Risks and Benefits

National Coming Out Day may give LGBT individuals the confidence to come out to their loved ones, but it’s important to know that not everyone has a supportive experience. There are risks and benefits of coming out, therefore, it’s important to determine what is right for you when choosing to come out.

Some risks you might encounter include:

  • Homophobia
  • Friends may not be supportive
  • Parents may not be supportive
  • Homelessness
  • You might get asked a lot of uncomfortable questions
  • You might lose friends

Some benefits of coming out:

  • You won’t be afraid of people finding out
  • You will have a chance to live authentically
  • You can receive support from LGBT Organizations
  • You will have the opportunity to make LGBT friends
  • You can be a role model for other LGBT youth
  • You may have improved self esteem

Deciding when to come out

  • Be comfortable with who you are. When deciding to come out to your loved ones, it’s important to become comfortable with yourself before you begin to tell people. If you are confidant in yourself, you will be comfortable with the processing time it takes your loved one. You will feel more comfortable when answer questions and clarifying the process if necessary.
  • Take your time. Don’t feel forced or pressured to come out by others. If you feel like people know and they are just waiting for you to confirm, let them wait. This is your journey and your life. Don’t let someone else’s expectations dictate your coming out experience.
  • Find a safe person. This may be a friend, family member, or a counselor. Sometimes finding someone safe for the first time you say “I’m Gay” out loud makes all the difference for your confidence.
  • Choose a safe moment and place. Deciding to come out to your family at your cousins wedding may not be the best idea. If you decide to come out, pick a day, time, and place where you and the person you are coming out to will have time to process this new information.
  • Be patient. Allow your loved ones time to process this new information. Not everyone will be surprised or shocked, but there will be some people that didn’t see this coming. Give these individuals the time and space to come to terms with this information. Your family and friends might have some difficult questions for you. Help them understand where you are within the process and then allow them the chance to take their time. It might be hard for a dad to hear that his son is gay, then the next day get introduced to your boyfriend. Ask your family members how comfortable they are before you start adding on more information. Coming out as LGBT may be something you have been processing for years, so giving you family and friends’ time to process will be beneficial as well.

The process of coming out to your family and friends can be difficult. You may feel scared and uncertain about how your loved ones will react. Joining a LGBT support group will help you hear how others have dealt with the coming out period. Counseling can also be helpful during this time. If you find a counselor that is knowledgeable and sensitive about coming out as LGBT, you can process what it’s like during this time and have the support that you may be lacking.

NCOD logo designed by Keith Haring

NCOD logo designed by Keith Haring


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