Giving Teens the Confidence to Thrive – Bethel University News

Posted: January 29, 2021 at 7:54 pm


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After graduation, she worked as a counselor for awhile, but Wilkening found her calling when she worked with one student from her church who wanted coaching. It was then that her true passionconfidence coachingtook on a life of its own, she says. Wilkening explains the difference between therapy and coaching: Therapy often deals with past trauma and debilitating beliefs. Coaching is when youre ready to move forward. Its goal-setting.

As a parent, Wilkening personally faces some of the same challenges as the families she works with, navigating the new normal of pandemic-affected school and social life for her own teens. Her twin oldest daughters headed off to college this fall, one of them to Bethel, and she has two teenagers still at home. Immersed in the teen landscape at home, in student ministries, and in her coaching practice, Wilkening has a deep awareness and compassion for the concerns of teens and their families. She points to four main areas of concern.

First, in the face of normal teenage struggles coupled with the challenges of COVID-19, she says, anxiety is rampant. Its paralyzing for a lot of kids. They feel debilitated by fears. Second, body image issues, long a concern for young people, are increasingly exacerbated by social media. Third, social media in general is a problem, since kids are not taught the difference between what is reality and what is not. And finally, self-esteem is taking an extra hit from pandemic isolation, since kids cant do some of the things they would normally do when theyre feeling bad, like going places and hanging out with friends.

Wilkening sees the concerns of teens as a family concerns. In fact, she says, sometimes coaching a teen actually means coaching the parent. Our kids mental health will only come so far as we as parents will let it, she emphasizes. We as parents have to open our minds, open our hearts, and open our eyes to what our kids are dealing with. She offers three suggestions for parents who want to support their teens mental health:

While working with teens and their families means facing some significant challenges head-on, Wilkening ultimately finds hope in the journey. Teenagers want to get better, she says. They havent developed lifelong habits around negative feelings, so when they learn to identify the lies and take their power back, there is so much potential for growth. God does not want themor any of usto be ashamed of who we are. At our core, we are created by a good God, and we need to be rooted in that.

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Giving Teens the Confidence to Thrive - Bethel University News

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January 29th, 2021 at 7:54 pm

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