How to talk to children and teenagers about insecurity

Life can be unpredictable, but you can help the young people in your life learn to use it.

What a year 2020 was. We didn’t plan to have a year like this and things continue to feel insecure and unpredictable. There are many things in life that are uncertain and unplanned. If we get stuck with “this is not fair” or “why did this happen to me”, we run the risk of feeling stuck, becoming increasingly anxious, and angry at our circumstances.

As parents, caregivers, teachers, and adults, it is important to teach children the value of adaptability to changing conditions. Indeed, teaching them how to do this is a remarkable gift. The problem? What if you are not sure how to do it? Our ability to teach others is limited by our own insight, willingness, and experience.

Let’s start with some key definitions to help you feel better equipped to teach our next generation about healthier lifestyles.

Avoiding uncertainties is one of the five cultural dimensions that Geert Hofstede introduced in 1980 in his book on the subject of “Cultural Consequences”. He found that every culture is shaped by the way it sees certainty versus uncertainty. Uncertainty is defined as a situation, outcome, or outcome that is unknown or unpredictable. Some people thrive and feel comfortable in these conditions. Others are concerned with avoiding uncertainty because they prefer to stay in situations they are more comfortable with. People who prefer a high level of security look for stability, structure, boundaries, social norms and rules that allow them to predict outcomes and thus avoid risks. Those who are okay with uncertainty are more flexible, adaptable, and prone to ambiguity. What category are you in?

Here are some tips for you to consider and teach valuable life lessons to the children in your circle:

Work on a flexible mindset

We can all agree that life can feel unfair, that things should work out for us, and that we should get what we deserve. However, this is not always the case. As a psychologist, I’ve heard far too often, especially from adults, that they should get a legitimate reward for working hard. Frankly, we expect that when we do good, good things should be returned to us. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. I find that children really benefit from learning this lesson early. Here’s a scenario: a teenage boy was a good friend of a coworker, but that friend betrays her and gossips about her. You can connect with this teenager by saying, “It’s really disappointing when you had the best of intentions for your boyfriend and it wasn’t returned. This really hurts. Sometimes people treat us as we expect, and sometimes not. I’m so sorry this happened to you. “Your words add empathy, comfort, and a small dose of truth in the midst of disappointment. You’re essentially helping them understand that life doesn’t always work the way we expect it to, and that’s fine.

Reinforce the message that there is strength in weakness

It’s not about saying that when bad things happen, it’s good or that we need tragedy to be a better person. These messages can be harmful. Instead, teach children and adolescents the importance of finding their voice and gaining strength within uncertainty. I often use metaphors to bring this point home. It sounds something like this, “I remember one particularly hot summer here in Texas when the grass was really brown and dry. A large patch of grass burned. After the fire went out, the grass that caught fire became charred, scorched, and bald, as expected. Within a few days, new bright green grass began to grow in the middle of the burnt grass. Isn’t that interesting? The new grass was actually healthier, livelier, and greener than the brown grass that surrounded it. “There are so many examples in nature and in our own bodies where strength can be found when we are at our weakest. When things change and there are unexpected changes, these can be opportunities for growth. Growth comes from pressure, stress and beyond our limits. It is important to teach this lesson to children. The field of the posttra