Growing Up Happy – What do Teenagers Want?

Happy Teenager

Happy Teenager + Happy Parents = Happy Home

Lots of people are searching for happiness, at any age! There so many sites, books, courses and workshops all dedicated to finding health and happiness. Here are some practical points for you, that I have taken from the wealth of information out there!

  • To be happy, you need to feel in control of your own destiny.
  • Shape your life and environments to make the most of your personal strengths.
  • Figure things out yourself wherever you can, pursue your interests and passions, make choices for yourself and plan your next steps.
  • Simple things in life are the best.
  • High standards of well-being are related to good habits: healthy eating, physical exercise, plenty of sleep, moderate use of media/ internet rather than excessive use, regular quality family time and friend time.

Happy Teen

When I read about the pressures on the young people of today, this resonates with me and I want to help!

I think all of us can think of times in our lives when we were trying to decide upon our purpose and identity.  If your happiness is completely dependant on other people it will feel uneasy…Constantly checking the phone for messages, fretting over every line of a text, wondering why a certain person seems to be ignoring you.. doesn’t sound like a recipe for happiness does it?

If I could change anything about myself, I would like to be stronger in myself. To know better when things are not good for me, or not quite right, and to trust my intuition more. Ultimately, to be more confident in myself and not reliant on other people’s approval for happiness.

To be honest, this has happened more and more with age! I would even go so far as to say, I’m pretty strong in myself now, but there’s always a part of us inside that still feels like a teenager! Now I’m more interested in how to help my children grow up with self confidence..

So whether you are a teenager, a parent of a teenager or neither, this might be relevant to you?! Take steps towards gaining a sense of self belief and building your confidence, irrespective of whether your friends think it’s cool! I can promise you, you will NOT regret this!

Self Help Books for Teens

I love a self-help book! These are a couple that are worth a read:

  • The Art Of Being a Brilliant Teenager by Andy Cope.
  • The Self- Esteem Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals – by Lisa Schab
  • Blame My Brain: the Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed by Nicola Morgan. This explains the physical changes in your brain and helps you make sense of puzzling situations that you might be experiencing. It’s packed full of examples, advice and most importantly it’s designed to give you information about what happens to you during your teenage life. Information is power my friend!!
  • Who Moved My Cheese – Dr Spencer Johnson. A quick, easy read providing a metaphor on accepting change. You might even come across it in school. This message can make you think about life in a more positive way!

You will be able to get at least one of these at your local library, or if you are super-keen you can click on the link to buy it.

 

 

 

Angry Teen

Why do Parents Suck?! – Teenagers Guide to Parents 😉

Ever wondered why your parents say all the wrong things, ask annoying questions, stick their nose in your business when it’s not wanted, try to get you to do things that you don’t want to do, criticise your bad behaviour, ask you to help around the house and remember your manners, make you get home at a certain time, eat your greens, go to bed, get up for school… the list is endless, but I am sure you are beginning to get my drift. And you know the answer deep down right? They do all of these things because they want what is best for you. They want you to have the best life you can have. Because they love you.

I know, I know! You were hoping this would be a little rant about how annoying your parents are, how they should leave you alone etc. But hopefully they are trying to get better at knowing how your life is changing, and maybe they need a little help to understand! Maybe if you forgive your parent for not getting it right occasionally, they will forgive you too when you mess up?! The best thing is if you can manage to talk about this without turning it into an argument. Your parents are actually, believe it or not, on your side!… Good luck!

Naughty Step Blues

If you are a parent, maybe you are looking back at the “naughty step” with fondness for a time when your children were little, that now seems easy by comparison?! I’m hoping that the fact you are here to read this article means that you are keen to connect and understand more about how to be a parent of teenage kids.

Why are we Stereotyping Teenagers?

I would hate to feel that any negativity or reluctance on my part, would have an impact on my children’s happiness, and this is partly why I am researching all of this now! I guess we are all a little guilty of using stereotypes, and having been teenagers once ourselves, I suspect we sometimes feel that we know what our children are going through, but of course they are becoming young adults and are individual, not simply following in our footsteps! As with every generation, the pressures and the world we live in now, are both very different to the world we grew up in ourselves.

It is quite a hard step for us as parents to take a little step back, but sometimes that might be what is needed. Our teenage children, want to be taken seriously and I suppose at times, given the respect of an adult, as they are beginning to have strong feelings and emotions, views and desires of their own. On the other hand, there are probably just as many times when we should be taking a step forward again, to be there and support through times that seem hard for our kids!

Precious Children

 

As I have said before, we all could do with a little self-help now and then! If you have any issues of your own that you think might relate to when you were growing up, it might be worth trying to deal with them now! Inadvertently, I suspect at least to some extent, we can pass on our bad as well as our good traits! So if there is stuff you know that could come up with your teenage children, think about it now!

– relevant parenting/ self books

  • How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk – Abele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This has some useful exercises to fill in, which really get you thinking about your own parent-child relationships, as well as some funny cartoons to give you examples. There is another version specifically aimed at teenagers, however the concepts in this can be applied to any child really. It is about how to communicate effectively, and most definitely worth a read.
  • No-Drama Discipline: the whole-brain way to calm the chaos and nurture your child’s developing mind (Mindful Parenting) – Daniel J. Siegal and Tina Payne Bryson. This is great! I love a bit of psychology and it is applied perfectly in this book. I think this book really helped me to stop, try to pause before reacting and to re-connect as often as possible. I learned a lot from this book, and I certainly have reduced my shouting since!! Can’t say I never shout, but I hardly ever do. This can most definitely be applied to older children, and I think I need to read it again in a couple of years.
  • Girls Uninterrupted: Steps for Building Stronger Girls in a Challenging World – Tanith Carey. This is a must-read if you have daughters. Prepare yourself, it’s not all stuff that you want to think about, but I certainly learned a thing or two about the modern world, and I highly recommend.

Following the above recommendation, try this one to take some positive steps towards helping your girls.

Steve Biddulph has a number of really good Parenting books, including Raising Boys, but this one is different in the sense it is almost like a workbook for you to personalise your development on your way through the book.

  • Sane – Emma Young. This one is just for you to enjoy, it’s a personal account of someone trying to make herself feel just a little better in everyday life. It’s an enjoyable read and for many of us who take an interest in health and well-being, there is plenty to relate to.

 

Conclusion

I have touched on a few different aspects related to family health and happiness here, but I hope there is something that inspires you to work on your own well-being, your family bonds or even just making sure you give yourself a little more “me-time” whatever your age!

If you have any thoughts about what we have touched upon here, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

 

Can Music Help You Study? Exam Studying Tips from teensdomusic

Studying with music

I can’t believe it’s that time of year again! When students at varying levels are preparing to knuckle down and immerse themselves in the world of exam revision and stress.. Well at least that’s how I remember it!

It comes with memories of terrible hay fever, missing out on fun, trying to study whilst sunbathing, and ultimately peering at books for hours on end.. Am I making you feel worse?! Well it was worth it in the end, as I got to University, did an amazing course and became a Chartered Physiotherapist. In the process, made and kept some excellent friendships and basically had a ball! None of which, in my case, would have happened without some seriously hard work..

So I’m interested to find out more about how music can help the art and skill of studying with success.

Boost Exam Revision Motivation

Sometimes the subject we are trying so hard to learn, is not something that thrills us! Especially more so at school, when a broader range of subjects are still compulsory. Anything that can help make the process a bit more enjoyable has got to be good surely? It certainly would improve your mood?! Perhaps alleviate boredom?! However, there seems to be a growing trend to believe that if selected well, listening to music while studying can be beneficial.

Music to help you study

Certainly there were subjects that I really found a chore, and often they were the ones I found most difficult as well! But work has to be done, and personally I found that having music on, as well as my devoted mum bringing me endless snacks and drinks, helped to get through the revision process. If you are not careful, it can become a distraction instead, so choosing the playlist wisely is important! It has been said, that listening to music while trying to learn something new is not a good idea. But theoretically studying for exams, and even most homework/ coursework, should be a revision of concepts already learnt in lessons.

Selecting Playlists for Studying

However, listening to music without lyrics is thought to be least distracting, especially for English language subjects, involving writing and reading. If your mind starts following the lyrics of a song, then I think this applies to you!

What we need here, is music to help you work!

Instrumental music may be less likely to distract or take up valuable “brain-space.” When trying to memorise things in a certain order, it may be better to switch off background noise to maximise the short-term memory potential. I cannot argue with the fact that silence may well be the best scenario for some and particularly for when new and difficult concepts need to be learnt, but there has to be a little give and take around revision periods. It can be a tough-time for young people!

 

Ideas for playlists:

Teen focus on music

  • Classical music is an obvious choice for instrumental music, picking something more on the quiet side like Debussy, Chopin, Mahler or a collection such as Smooth Classics.
  • Modern day composers might interest you more, as they might use recognisable “classical” aspects in terms of instruments and overall sound, but often with electronic edge it just has a more current feel to it. We used to call this Ambient Music, I get the impression this is not the term now, more electro-acoustic? Try Olafur Arnalds or Michal Jacaszek for this. When studying or trying to focus, I enjoy Ambient music with a slight bias towards Chill-Out in reference to my Ibiza-loving days. For this I recommend not getting too “dancey” as you will be literally getting out your seat and turning up the volume instead of working! If you are streaming music then look for playlists under focus or concentration, and even soundtrack for study.
  • Soundtracks to TV shows or films are popular.
  • Pop instrumental playlists might work for you. Personally I can’t get on with the lack of vocals, and I’d prefer to listen to something that was written as an instrumental.
  • If you just can’t get on with the above suggestions, it might be worth trying some acoustic albums by your favourite bands or singers, asking your parents if they can recommend anything that is not too stimulating, but might inspire or motivate you to keep going? You might be surprised that they have some good ideas to offer! After all, the majority of the world’s successful artists would report to have been influenced by their own parent’s music collection. In the days before the internet, this was often all that people had access to!

Music and Maths

Music has long been rumoured to have links with developing Mathematical brains, but disappointingly, there is not a vast amount of evidence to prove this.

There are approaches out there for developing musical skills, which can be modified to help children learn and understand fractions and other mathematical exercises. The Hungarian Kodaly Method, for example, features a system whereby students learn how to speak and sing rhythmic patterns using sounds/ syllables of words. It is possible that we could turn this around and use mental pictures of the musical notes to work out fractions too. I suspect that this requires a dedicated teacher, but if you are struggling with maths, you might be able to fall back on some of your musical training, or vice versa?!

Exam Stress Relief

I think that both listening to music and playing musical instruments have a tremendous role here.

I recall that on exam days, my method of controlling my nerves (terrible nerves!) was to play music in my bedroom, really loudly, just before I left the house. I would dance or sing along and it served to lift my mood, relieve some adrenaline and somehow set me up to march out the door with my head held high! Don’t tell your parents you got the idea from me 😉

A few classics that stick in my memory for this kind of feel-good stress relief, are:

  • The Doobie Brothers “Listen to the Music” – get up and sing along, feels so good!
  • Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way” – AMAZING drumming!
  • Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – no comment required
  • The Fatback Band “Spanish Hustle”  – my eardrums were almost bursting this was so loud! WAIT for the bongo solo! And the trumpet solo with the theme building underneath is just SWEET, like jazz-trance music before it’s time!

 

Happy Teen

I also enjoyed my band practices during this time. Sometimes practicing pieces at home helped, but since I was studying music, this was also very much linked to my exams and perhaps didn’t give me the mental break that playing with other people did. My friend and I used to load up one of our trusty second hand cars with instruments and sheet music, and head off to the practice sessions on a Friday afternoon/ evening. It was good to get away from the books for a bit. Not only that, all our fellow band members were going through exams too, as well as University applications etc. We got some comfort from each other, but mainly just enjoyed playing some awesome music and having a laugh! A little of freedom, during a time that was mostly scheduled towards passing exams, was both necessary and loved by all!

Use it as a reward!

It’s known that regular exercise boosts concentration, so maybe schedule in a favourite song to actually get up and dance every hour or so, get the blood pumping! Or maybe before a difficult task, treat yourself to a really good song, jump around and get the endorphins releasing to boost your mood. Again, if you have time for a little walk, I find that listening to some what-I-call nondescript music, really helps my imagination and creative brain come into action.

Keep going for your dreams

Studying and getting through exam-times can be really hard. It’s good to remind yourself of the things you are good at, and what you are hoping to get better at. These exams might be the very thing that lead to you towards your ultimate goals, and they might end up being totally insignificant. We’ve all been there, and I think I would advise looking after yourself, get good sleep, eat well, take breaks and exercise and as a Physiotherapist, I would like to add that you should sit at a proper desk and suitable chair with back support too! If you don’t know what exercise to take, do a little yoga or Pilates sequence from You Tube! It is really good to stretch out and exercise your muscles to prevent aches and pains from studying.Good work space for study

Keep doing fun things with family and friends to keep you grounded and calm. Never compare yourself to others because we all have something unique about ourselves and to offer the world, and as long as you try to do the best that you can, you will ultimately have no regrets in life.

Good luck!

If you have anything to share about keeping on track with your studying, and beating exam stress, or thoughts about music in general, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

 

 

 

Best Guitars for Younger Children – and Big Kids too!


I have two young children who are requesting guitars for their birthdays this Spring! One of them has never picked up a guitar in his life, and the other has a little experience of the electric guitar from playing at school in a Rock Steady group. I don’t want to get them toy guitars, but at soon to be ages six and four, I don’t think that they are quite ready for the top of the range instruments on the market either!

Since I need to research all of this myself, I thought I would share the information I have found to help out other parents. While this isn’t strictly relevant to teens, some of you may have younger children and siblings who are keen to join in with the music madness with you! We are still in a position to select birthday gifts ourselves, and presenting them as a surprise! I’m making the most of this, as I’m sure it won’t be long before they are insisting on choosing everything themselves!

Child Size Acoustic Guitar

I am looking for an acoustic guitar that can see my children through lessons and perhaps become a treasured favourite for easy playing when they are older.

1. YAMAHA JR1 3/4 SIZE ACOUSTIC GUITAR & BAG
This is my personal favourite because of its beautiful tone and the quality of the instrument. Although it is smaller than a normal acoustic guitar, I can still picture it being used as a practice guitar when they might have moved on to other things. My concern with some junior sized guitars is that they will be treated as a toy, and sound just as bad! With this, I feel that I am getting something that will last the test of time.

While there are a few others on the market, I am going to leave this here for now. If I come across another great acoustic guitar for kids, I will recommend immediately. I am sorry to say that I haven’t yet!!

I will be researching on the full sized acoustics though, so if you are getting near to adult size watch this space!

Child Size Electric Guitar

What I’m looking for is a 3/4 size guitar, or kid’s guitar, that looks nice and sounds good too.

1. FENDER SQUIER MINI 3/4 ELECTRIC GUITAR

Having found this one, I’m really finding it difficult to move away from it, and I think this is what I will be buying for my daughter (don’t tell her!)

Any music lover, such as myself, has grown up with a fondness for some icon names such as Fender and Gibson, and there is a certain romanticism in the thought of buying my children a 3/4 size beautiful, Fender Stratocaster. It does cost a bit more than some options I’ve seen, but I have fallen in love with the tone, the rosewood body and the fact that I know my daughter is familiar with it already has sealed the deal for me!

It comes in a few colours as well, and can be used until the age of around eleven. I can’t help feeling that this will be much loved and never parted with though. Many adult guitarists still use it as their travel guitar, as it weighs a little less and is easier to transport around.

We will be going with the red, as it’s appealing to everyone and still nice to have a splash of colour on what is essentially quite a grown-up bit of kit! Have a look for yourself by clicking the link above.

 

2. STRETTON PAYNE 1/2 SIZE ELECTRIC GUITAR with amplifier, padded bag, strap, lead, plectrum, tuner, spare strings.

Now, who could argue with this for good value?! It’s essentially based on the design of the Fender Strat (only smaller), without the name, and quite a few extras thrown in as well. This even includes some online guitar lessons.

I very much doubt whether most beginner guitarists would know the difference between this and the above guitar, so if you have a slightly smaller budget, and want to get all the needed accessories in one buy, then this one is a great choice and would have you set up to play immediately.

“Teen” (full) size Electric guitar

1. ROCKJAM FULL SIZE ELECTRIC GUITAR SUPERKIT with Amp, Strings, Tuner, Case and Cable.
I have included this because it is a fantastic package, although please bear in mind that it is full size and therefore you would only buy this if you are reaching adult size yourself!

This really would set you up to performance level with a superb 20 watt Amp, and a carry case for attending all your practices and gigs. With the bonus of a tuner, even the neighbours shouldn’t complain, and the stand means you can show off your new pride and joy even when you are not playing. Pretty awesome!

 

Musical instruments are an investment worth making

Guitar dreams

If you too are a parent, you will no doubt be familiar with the slow, or speedy, drain of financial resources as your children grow up, and need more things, attend more classes and events etc.! But I know from experience that music is totally worth that investment of time and money. Having some quality kit will last a lifetime and provide them with what they need to grow their newly found skills! And if you want to be a little less soulful about it, the decent stuff also has a better resale value should you need to part with it at any time too!!