Clues to coping with the frequent motivation and disciplinary troubles with teenagers in regards to education

(...continued from How to Live Well on Very, Very Little)

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(latest update of this section on or about 4-6-03)

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It seems that teenagers typically have the biggest problem seeing much value in education. Partly this is due to the erratic hormonal surges they're suffering, which (along with various social events) can whipsaw a kid from elation to black depression with dizzying speeds and frequency. It can be difficult to be rational and objective under such circumstances. Another reason may often be sleep-deprivation. Teens need more sleep than many other age groups, and yet perversely may often get less than they did in younger years, due to a collision of natural changes in their sleep cycles and the demands of school and work schedules, as well as natural increased yearnings to explore and participate in a wider variety of social events and situations.

The average adolescent requires up to 9.25 hours of sleep per night, but suffers from a natural sleep cycle which makes them fall asleep later at night than they did during younger years. Combine this fact with early awakening for school, and you get sleepy, irritable, and uninterested students. In research studies, better rested students were better behaved and more alert for teachers, and making better grades, as well as suffering fewer bouts of depression. As an added bonus, later school hours reduced violent crime due to teenagers too-- as basically better rested and clearer thinking teens tended not to make as many mistakes, were supervised by adults for a greater portion of their waking hours, and spent a larger portion of their total free time asleep rather than on the streets. .

Teens who consistently get inadequate sleep may suffer permanent mental and physical damage, or limitations on their ultimate potential in many matters.

-- Students and sleep - perfect together By RACHEL SMOLKIN, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, September 23, 1999,

Those who sleep less than six hours a night suffer reduced lifespans compared to those who get at least seven hours. Regular and sustained sleep deprivation affects the body in ways similar to accelerated aging.

-- Losing Sleep Over Fatigue By ROBERT LEE HOTZ, March 16, 2000

Getting six to eight hours of sleep per night improves learning and memory capacities, compared to getting less. In areas involving particularly challenging material, as much as a 20%-50% difference in learning and memory can occur on a daily basis between one person getting at minimum six hours sleep a night, and the other getting less.

-- Sleep longer, learn better by: Cynthia Reynolds, March 7, 2000, Discovery Channel Canada 2000

-- : Dreams May Help Us Remember By Joseph B. Verrengia, The Associated Press, July 18, 2000

Inadequate sleep appears to be afflicting many middle-class children by the time they reach sixth grade, possibly reducing their attention spans and ability to learn. This sleep loss gradually ramps up between second and sixth grades as children typically awaken at the same times but go to sleep later and later.

-- Grade-Schoolers Grow into Sleep Loss by B. Bower, From Science News, Vol. 157, No. 21, May 20, 2000, p. 324

The greater level of general anxiety kids often suffer in the modern world as compared to past generations, may also be a source of generational dis-connect on subjects like education and others.

Between the 1950s and 2000, something happened to make today's young adults and children more anxiety-ridden than they were in previous generations. During the 1980s average children possessed a higher level of anxiety than child psychiatric patients of thirty years before.

It is thought that child anxieties reflect those of society overall. If this is true, then social stresses on adults are growing. The increased isolation due to high divorce rates, plus worries about crime and disease, may all be factors here. It appears that people increasingly distrust those around them, too.

Exposure to violence, both real and virtual, seems one source of this anxiety. Disruptions in personal friend and family ties, another. Lower quantity and quality of interaction with parents breeds still more concerns for youngsters. Many of our young seem to feel less safe and less connected to others than previous generations.

This mounting anxiety is apparently contributing to rising rates of substance abuse and depression among the younger population.

-- Children's Anxiety at All-Time High By Suzanne Rostler, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, December 15, 2000, citing the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000;79:1007-1021

Teen disdain for learning may also come from the fact they know they've already gained much since childhood, and are becoming increasingly aware of the intellectual, financial, and social status limits of those around them, including authority figures like parents and teachers, as well as their own peer group. They also are beginning to feel some chafing at having already been in school roughly half to two thirds their lives by that point. They positively ache for the opportunity to have more control over their present, and do more intrinsically interesting things with it, than sit at a desk all day. Another factor is the steadily increasing difficulty in their classes. During the teen years school is getting perceptibly harder than before-- at least for many. This is uncomfortable and often stressful. Indeed, the stress can often go off the scale in many of the environments teens encounter-- especially in their personal perceptions of such situations.

At the same time, teens also see widespread glorification of impulse and excess in western news and entertainment media, where it seems countless numbers of strangers young and old are getting rich and famous acting in precisely the unrestrained manner the teens feel compelled to do. It'll often be many years later before the teens' adult selves realize that such celebrities really make up only a miniscule percentage of the population, and usually obtain their riches and privileges though inheritance, crime, luck, or physical appearance, more than anything else. And that these avenues of advancement are essentially unavailable, impractical, or unwise for most everyone else.

In developed nations like the USA, many corporations are exploiting the way TV, radio, videos, games, and the internet have become defacto babysitters of many children due to the frequent absence or inattention of their parents, stemming from both often working and being otherwise time-pressed. These corporations use the latest child psychology information available in state-of-the-art multimedia to seduce children via violence, addictive mental hooks, and gaudy sensuality into shrill harassment of parents for the purchase of various products/services the corporations are pushing. This is leading to more than 50% of parents admittedly buying items for their children which they themselves disapprove of, but feel compelled to buy to avoid disappointing their children.

This ongoing virtual child abuse appears to be desensitizing children to violence and its results in general, perhaps leading to some of them later on inflicting great tragedies upon themselves and others as teens or adults. In short, this corporate abuse of children today may be leading, at worst, to a new 'lost' generation of violent criminals tomorrow. Or, at best, to a future generation of adults who themselves may become poor excuses for individual human beings-- and even worse parents.

The Center for a New American Dream is one group formed to combat this phenomena.

-- The nanny by Ralph Nader, Oct. 27, 1999, Ralph Nader/In the Public Interest, San Francisco Bay Guardian,

All these elements pose formidable obstacles to teens sensing the full value in things like education and others.

This would not be such a big deal if the youngsters could easily return to their schooling after their hormonal surges subsided, and they'd broken free of the typically problematic peer groups they'd joined earlier, largely due to accident and circumstance.

But often such a return is not so easy. Many high school drop outs feel humiliated to attend night school or other programs to obtain a GED-- largely because they realize the awful mistake they made the first time around, by not getting their diploma when it would have been easiest and cheapest to do so. Then there's the matter of the new demands on their resources they face as adults. Most by that time have been forced to get low wage jobs to pay their bills, and many have even stumbled into parenthood-- both factors sure to strain them financially and time-wise-- making it even more difficult to set aside the resources necessary to take up where they left off in school.

Some of the former teens may even have spiraled into deep trouble with the law or drug abuse or both by this time, thereby possibly damaging their reputations and their health, and so adding still more to the difficulties of starting afresh.

Another problem to add to this pile of dropout despair is the fact that at least some subjects are much harder for adult minds to learn than teen minds. Foreign languages for example. Much about a person's intellectual potential becomes set by adulthood. So those teens who miss their chance for early learning usually will find their practical educational choices substantially narrowed later on.

Sadly, almost none of this can be explained before-the-fact to many teenagers. The majority may have to learn it for themselves through 'the school of hard knocks', as many chastened former teens refer to life.

But returning to schooling later in life and trying to recapture some of the potential which was earlier discarded is not entirely hopeless for those smart enough and determined enough to do it. It's just that it's usually a much greater struggle for them than it would have been the first time around. It's a shame so many teens are forced to learn the value of education the hard way.

Miscellaneous unorganized links

Identifying depression in preschoolers
Less fit teens more likely to have precursor to diabetes
Adolescents' perceived importance of religion found to lessen their drug use
Study links risky teen behaviors to heavy dose of rap music videos
Teens abusing cough and cold remedies
GravityTeen builds confidence and self-esteem through teen stories and advice.###
Study finds doctors fail to bridge confidential communication gap with teens
Fast-paced lifestyle helps to erode teensí teeth
Soft drinks, teens and cavities
The most common childhood disease can be prevented
Girls More Easily Addicted to Drugs
Knocked Out
Keeping tabs on teens may curb alcohol use and risks
Dyslexic children`s brains operate more like those of normal readers following training
Nearly 20% of drinking is underage age
Changes in secondary education improve program by providing more classroom experience early on
Schools culture of testing and targets squeezes support for 'at risk' youngsters
Parental smoking, behaviors, and attitudes may be associated with adolescent smoking
High School Students Say They Need More Current-Events Study
Teen girls with common hormonal disorder more concerned about fertility than peers
Teens prefer talking to mom about drug use topics
Preschool curriculum uses stories and art to build a love of books
Boyfriend pressure makes black teen girls more likely to want pregnancy
Teen drug programs turn curious teens into crackheads. By Maia†Szalavitz
Teen Depression Treatment for Depression Teenager Depression Adolescent Depression
Peer groups influence early adolescent bullying behavior
Restricting TV Viewing At Home May Only Lead Teens To Watch Favorite Programs At Friends' Homes, Study Finds
Kids of Single-parent Homes Often Less Stable
Smaller high schools achieve big results
Ritalin helps ADHD kids avoid future drug use, study finds
No Abuse Risk in Hyperactivity Drugs, Study Says
The Nurture Assumption
In defense of parenthood, By Katie Allison Granju Page 1
Adult influences may predispose teens to smoke
Parenting, not pills
Drugging Our Children to Death -- 12-30-2002
Single-gender ed not just an alternative
First genetic findings in children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorders
Drinks of the father
Teen survey reveals dangerous behavior during holidays
Criminality linked to early abuse and genes
Psychiatric disorders common among detained youth
Nicotine antagonist relieves depression in children with Tourette's syndrome
Psychiatric disorders highly prevalent among juvenile jail detainees
School bullies keep fear on campus - Dec. 10, 2002
Family routines and rituals may improve family relationships and health
Black and hispanic kids more likely to be insulin-resistant
Plague of pimples blamed on bread
Religious 12th graders hold more positive attitudes about life, new UNC study shows
Portion size matters Given too much, we eat it
Young brains break. Then comes the broken care system (11-11-02)
Joint-Custody Arrangements Good for Children Of Divorce -- But Only If There Is No Parental Conflict
Early sexual development, childhood obesity link is opposite for boys and girls, UIC study says
Food additives 'cause temper tantrums'
Aspirin Should Be Banned for Under-16s
Anti-drug programs like D.A.R.E. called a bust
Keeping Tabs on Teens Behind the Wheel (
Scolding Kids Harms as Much as Hitting, Study Says
head start provides leg up to kindergarteners
study refutes 'sturm und drang' theory of adolescence
Fairness of sibling treatment key to its impact, study shows
Are Some Friends Dangerous to Your Health?
Childhood Depression and Bad Parental Habits A Recent Study Finds the Connection
Plague of pimples blamed on bread
Sex in Middle School
Family routines and rituals may improve family relationships and health
Can commercial culture possibly corrupt today's teens more than it did their parents
Violent, Unhappy and Brief -- The Life of a School Bully
Novice drivers seldom anticipate danger on the road, UMass researcher finds
What Students Need in the Restructured High School -- Education Week
Greater Sensitivity to Addictive Drugs in Adolesce
Adolescent girls who set goals too high may risk anorexia
Researchers Link Teen Sex To Early Friendships, Steady Dating
Parent-teen intervention may reduce teen driving risk
An Rx For Teen Sex
Preventive sessions after divorce protect children into teens
promising long-term results for children of divorce
Light to moderate drinking during pregnancy can affect adolescent growth
Teen angst rooted in busy brain
Teens who witness or experience violence at home take risks with sex
Tracking device finds your kids for a fee
Teens with regular religious practices get into less trouble
Birth weight and social class linked to educational achievement
Children not spanked fare better in school, marriage
Lower degrees of 'social capital' predict higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases
Crime and nourishment
Today's foods lack yesterday's nutrition
Complex physical learning may compensate for prenatal alcohol exposure, study shows
Low-income mothers' mental health may soften the impact of growing up in poverty
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs Just Don't Work
Traffic noise 'harms' child health
Mentally fatigued persons switch to automatic pilot
zinc supplementation shows positive growth effects for infants and children
Angry outbursts linked to brain dysfunction
Passive smoking dents children's IQ
A caring mother is a child's best defence against drug culture
Get out of that funk - Persistent bad mood leads to poor health
Angry young men prone to premature heart disease
new reason for smokers to keep this unhealthy habit away from infants-children
Eat Right, Stay Young
Maximizing Nutrition
Children Greatest Victims Of Degrading Environment
Children face environmental risks
Introvert persons are more likely to become tired at work
Depression and exposure to other smokers linked to alternative tobacco product use among teens
Benefits of discussing teenage health concerns are small but encouraging
Can We Cultivate Our Own Happiness
Closeness to mother can delay first instance of sexual intercourse among younger teens
condom use errors are common among college-age men
Guardianship as an option gets more children into permanent homes
Doctors Consider Diagnosis for 'Ill' Relationships (
Escape Your Nightmares
Research links adolescent steroid use to reduction in serotonin, altered signaling
What motivates human behavior
Natural high helps banish bad memories
Should a Mentoring Relationship Ever End
Monitor keeps close eye on teens' driving habits
Students' Complicated Gifts (
Nicotine stops new brain cells forming
American kids' poor food choices Fewer than 15 percent eat recommended fruits and vegetables
Writing email about traumatic events can improve health
Venlafaxine significantly effective for children and teens with generalized anxiety disorder
Religious 'vulnerable to compulsion'
Understanding Anxiety
Children's psychological well-being improves after divorce, but test scores do not
'Today's Pot Is Stronger'
More talk, fewer pills, says psychiatrist
Number of teens --primarily boys -- having sex declined in '90s
Criminalizing sexual curiosity
Led By Girls, Teens Act More Responsibly About Sex
Nagging In Families Why, And How It Can Be Handled
Teens, Body Piercing And Risky Behavior Go Together
Single-Sex Education Gets Boost (
Emailing 'is good for your health'
Lack Of Quality In Family Life Underlies Drug Problem
a human face on overcoming depression
Govt. Report on Sexual Abstinence
The Myth of 'Harmless' Marijuana (
Marijuana use linked to hallucinogen use
Classroom management linked to lesser teen alienation from school
Teens want small, solid schools - April 11, 2002
Brain undergoes gains and losses in cognitive abilities during adolescence
The brain risks of binge drinking
Children who skip school could be tomorrow's entrepreneurs
Mind mapping can help dyslexics
Gender differences in math interest and performance
For Tribes, Traditions May Be Key to a Healthier Future (
Drug Czar notes lunacy of zero tolerance
Net savvy students to teachers You just don't get it!
Tagging children will not protect them, say experts
Adolescent development shaped by a host of social settings
Kids, Commercialism and Consumption by Linda Coco
Parenthood is an increasingly isolated job
Dallas ousts private schools firm, says it performs no better than school districts
Our Sexual Brains From the Stone Age
Homeless Youths A Study's Portrait Of a Perilous Life (
Smoking Pot Alters More Than Mood ó Human Immune System Affected, USF-UCLA Study Finds
How to Really Listen
Just Right School Size Matters (
Life is hard when you're in your 20s
Elements of School-to-Work Programs
Transitions to Adulthood
Young and Bipolar
School districts 'resegregating' - August 9, 2002
Surrogate fathers act as paternal figures for many children in poor, urban settings
Sex, intimacy and family life in the United States
study assesses student intelligence testing
Parent Teaching (
new way to measure cultural adaptation of youth
Two thirds of adolescent Zimbabwean girls in study involved with older men
Girls' higher grades come with emotional price tag, researchers say
Girls with views of nature have better chance of success
The State of the World's Children 1998
Public school no place for mandated courses on religious or character values, say older students

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The above article(s) come from and make references to a collection copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 by J.R. Mooneyham (except where otherwise noted in the text). Text here explicitly authored by J.R. Mooneyham may be freely copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes in paper and electronic form without charge if this copyright paragraph and link to or are included.

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