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How to wrap advice as a gift a teenager might open

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By LISA DAMOUR, NEW YORK TIMES

If there’s anything adults are always eager to share with our teenagers, it’s our own hard-earned wisdom. But why do our well-meaning efforts to advise our teenagers often get a chilly reception?

Usually, it’s because we’ve got our attention trained on the wrong thing: the thoughts we’re hoping to pass along, and not how it feels to be on the receiving end of such lessons. When you have something to say that you really want your teenager to hear, these approaches can help get your message across:

The most powerful force in a normally developing teenager may be the drive toward independence. Unsolicited coaching — even when it is excellent and well-intentioned — goes against the adolescent grain.

An easy fix? Before dropping knowledge on your child, ask permission. In practical terms, this might be saying, “Hey, I found this interesting article on managing digital distractions. Do you want to take a look at it?” If you find your teenager grousing about a problem for which you have a solution, try, “I’ve got an idea that might help. Do you want to know what I’m thinking?”

According to Vanessa Cánepa-Prentice, a 17-year-old from Seattle: “When parents ask if we’d like to hear what they have to say, we just might be open to it.” Should your teenager decline your pearls of wisdom, don’t press it, and don’t get discouraged. We often strengthen our connections with young people when we find ways to honour their autonomy.

Lose “when I was a teenager …”

Adolescents tend to tune out anything that comes after “When I was a teenager… ” Indeed, my own informal surveys have taught me that young people find uttering these five words to be the second most annoying thing parents routinely do. (The first? Entering a closed room to address the teenager therein, then neglecting to shut the door on the way out.)

Citing our own adolescence can be a conversation killer, since our kids often reject the premise that their teenage years have anything in common with ours. On this they’ve got a point. We did not come of age while submerged in digital waters, and what we accomplished as high school students pales in comparison to what many young people now achieve, such as the demanding course loads that many of today’s high school students take on.

Even when addressing the timeless aspects of adolescence, reminiscing aloud may not be prudent. Though teenagers are often unfairly critiqued, it is true that adolescence can be a phase of marked egocentrism.

As a psychologist, I have learned that teenagers — who may regard their travails as singular and unprecedented — sometimes dismiss even compassionate efforts to draw parallels between anyone else’s experiences and their own. This goes double when that anyone else is a parent. Be sure to focus on the here and now for your teenager, not there and then for you.

Appreciate the limits of your understanding

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We often try to guide teenagers on topics that are foreign to us but familiar to them. For example, many adolescents can name a dozen e-liquid flavours, several e-cigarette devices, and tell you which of their classmates vapes, with whom, where and under what conditions. Given this, it’s fair to assume that our teenagers might have the same reaction to us saying, “We need to talk about vaping” that we would have if our teenager said to us, “We need to talk about your mortgage.”

Not that we should clam up about vaping and other important health and safety topics. But we should own what we don’t know. If we start by asking, “Would you explain vaping to me?” and follow that up with earnest questions, we reduce the odds of an eye roll when we eventually offer that we read an article on the hazards of nicotine and ask our teenager if she wants to see it.

Our teenagers care what we think about them. Which accounts for how injured they tell me they feel when, out of the blue, their parents approach them with a lecture on the dangers of pain pills, perhaps after watching a frightening documentary about the opioid epidemic.

While the adults may feel they are checking a critical parenting box, the adolescent might be wondering, “What have I done to make you think I’m headed toward life as an addict?” or “Don’t you know me at all? I’m your kid who’s reluctant to take Advil.”

We can keep these interactions on track by talking about teenagers in general, instead of putting our own child on the spot. Dr. Olutoyin Fayemi, a pediatrician near Boston, has very direct conversations with adolescents in his practice but notes that, “it’s a whole different story” when he gets home to his own daughter and son, who are 14 and 17.

There, he looks for teachable moments that arise “in the paper, with one of my kid’s friends or at school.” When watching a TV news story about an accident involving a car packed with teenagers, for example, Fayemi chose to make only a general comment that things are much more likely to go wrong when adolescents drive with distractions.

Help weigh options, don’t weigh in

When teenagers seek out our advice, it can be hard to resist voicing an opinion. But an opinion may not be the most helpful response. As Vanessa, the Seattle teenager, explains, “It’s best when I have choices, when my parents don’t say there is only one way to go.” She appreciates when they ask what she thinks or when they say, “Here are some of the things you could try, but it’s up to you how you might solve it.”

As much as we might want to simply tell our teenagers what to do, we equally know that doing so won’t serve them well in the long run. Our aim, of course, should be to help them learn to make good decisions on their own. And when we do have hard-won perspective that we’re longing to share, let’s package it so that our teenagers are most likely to be receptive all year-round.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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