After 16 plus years as a high school teacher and more than 18 years of being a tutor, it has become increasingly obvious that more and more teenagers are not just using technology but have a level of addiction to them.
Addiction is something that controls you, rather than you being in control of it. Not every teenager who uses technology is addicted to it. There are many students we teach at InFlow Education who have a balance in their lives. They tend to meet with their friends regularly for outings, play a sport or are a part of a group in some form or another.
I often hear parents talk about technology like it is the worst thing to happen to society. One one hand, I can see their point. During my generation (I was born in 1976), people had addictions too. The difference being you usually had to leave the house to get access to it.
This generation’s addiction of choice is on them most of the time which makes it more obvious and problematic. But it can also be a blessing in disguise. I’m not talking about how technology has its benefits.
I think most people would agree there are advantages that have come with the advancement of technology. There is access to information and sharing of information that is unprecedented. Our children are able to call for help when in need and ordering food has never been easier. Just to name a few.
What I am talking about here is the red flag of addiction being waved at a parent. Years ago if a child was suffering, the addiction was usually hidden and it usually took obvious substance abuse for there to be a wake-up call that something wasn’t right.
Whilst drug addiction is prevalent with teenagers, technology addiction can be an early wake-up call which can lead you to intervene before it possibly leads to more harmful addictions developing.
The number of teenagers I am being asked to coach is growing each year. Some are battling substance abuse, but most have an addiction to either their phones, gaming or social media.
The addiction led to them to coaching and learning a set of habits on how to be more self-caring, resilient, mindful, present and balanced. Life-long skills they may not have learned were it not for the addiction that led them to life coaching.
If you notice the signs early enough, the addiction might just end up being a blessing rather than a curse.
When I started my high school teaching career, I certainly didn’t see what was coming. I didn’t plan on owning a tutoring business in the inner west, become a speaker in schools, author and be a life coach. In fact, all I wanted when I started was to make a difference to a few students lives in each class I taught.
When a few students in each of my classes asked if I could teach them the following year, my answer was the stock standard, “sorry I don’t get to choose my classes”. After hearing this several times, I took it as a sign to start my own tutoring business so that any student who wanted to be taught by me, had that option.
In 2010, my life changed forever. I felt a complete shift in awareness and I have felt a stillness inside me, inner peace, ever since. To put this into perspective, at the age of 24, 10 years earlier, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and had all but given up on life.
From a place of peace, I saw every excuse a child had ever given me for not doing well at school. Some of which included, “I’m not motivated”, “I’m too distracted”, “I’m not organised with school and assignments”, “I don’t know how to study and memorise” and “I freeze in exams”.
If I didn’t already have a solution or response, I researched to find a solution to each of the problems. I then started teaching what I had learned to unmotivated classes whilst in my role as a casual high school teacher. I also began to teach it as an introduction for new students at InFlow Education. It has since become our system to success, summarised in a poster all our students receive with their tuition.
At the end of each “presentation”, I would often get, “Have you thought about becoming a speaker?”. I heard that several times before I took it as a sign to do formal presentations and have conducted seminars in high schools and for InFlow Education. During this period, I was also getting asked by students if I considered writing a book, putting in what I was teaching in my seminars. That’s how Teenage Zen – a simple path to academic success and inner peace, was born.
My transformation to a calm person living on purpose with joy for what I was doing, was not lost on people who had known me most of my life. They wanted to know how I did it.
At first, I thought it was the last book I read. However, I stopped and asked myself, “When do I not feel at peace?” All my answers fell into 5 categories. These 5 Keys became the structure for my life coaching program, I have been conducting with teenagers and adults for the past 7 years. It also led to the book, The 5 Keys to Inner Peace.
My point is this. Being on purpose is not like having a dream to do something. I think it’s great when people say it’s their dream to do something but it wasn’t a life-long dream to run a tutoring business, be a speaker, author and life coach. To me, a dream is more like an idea we chase. Purpose is when an idea chases you, gives you many signs and just feels right.
There are many people, teenagers included who are trying to find purpose or the career that will make them light up. In my experience, the prerequisite to purpose is peace. Once you are at peace, purpose will find you which will drive high performance and mastery in a field.
Peace, purpose, performance. The 3 pillars to being In Flow.
When I started my high school teaching career 16 years ago, I didn’t know what life coaching was, nor did I dream of heading in that direction. As I mentioned in a previous article, purpose found me and I have been blessed to coach many teenagers and adults over the past 7 years. Watching people transform and live life more fully is an incredibly rewarding experience for me. I also learn from the people I coach, more than they realise.
You might have heard the term Life Coaching before and like many people have probably wondered what exactly that means. It is a broad field so I won’t attempt to define how others approach it but will give you a clear overview of how I go about life coaching teens and adults.
My life coaching involves guiding people to be In Flow. Over years of being frustrated by not being able to get the best out of each student I was tutoring, I eventually realised that there were 3 pillars to being In Flow. Peace, purpose and performance. Without a sense of inner peace, typically purpose will be foggy. Without purpose, there is not a strong enough desire to perform at high levels over a sustained period of time.
There are 5 habits when practised, will have you feeling inner peace and it why my peace coaching program is typically 5-6 sessions. It is much easier to know your purpose or have purpose find you when your head is no longer noisy and you see life as enjoyable rather than something to be feared. I also guide my clients on simple ways to get clearer about what they want to do and the internal and external drives they usually weren’t aware of before.
If you feel your child might not be at peace, here is a quick way to find out where they are. Ask them to score themselves honestly (from the heart not the head) out of 10 for the following 5 statements (10 meaning they strongly agree with the statement):
I love and accept myself unconditionally and don’t want to be anyone else
What others say to me or about me or think of me, has no effect on me. I bounce back from disappointment quickly
I don’t have many negative thoughts and they come and go quickly
I live for the moment more often than not (higher score) or I spend most of my day waiting for the future to come or thinking about the past (lower score)
I see that everything that has happened in my life has happened for a reason, there is good and bad to every moment.
If they are scoring below 35 out of 50, typically they will lack consistent motivation and focus for study and tutoring may not be the best option. If they are scoring over 35, it may just be purpose and performance training (4-session workshop) or tutoring that will take them to the next level with their academic performance.
If you are considering life coaching for your teenager or even for yourself, you can meet with me for a free, no-obligation meeting at our Five Dock office or over the phone.
Life will always have challenges but it doesn’t have to be a stressful. Lea