Posts

Social Emotional Tools for Teens – Podcast interview on Wellthy Living, Australia.

In the six days I was in Melbourne this week launching my new book ‘THE KEY, A Social Emotional Toolkit for Teens’ at the Cultures of Thinking conference, I was approached by Lisa Entwisle from Wellthy Living; Guiding you to Live a Wealthy Life, through Connection to Self, Others and the World around you to do a podcast interview.

 

 

Episode #28: Social Emotional Tools for Teens.

August 2019.

Mental health and emotional well being are getting lots of air time in the world right now…and rightly so. We are living in a world where anxiety, depression and suicide rates are continually rising.

In this episode I chat with Social worker, author, keynote speaker and workshop facilitator Romi Grossberg to discuss her fabulous new book “the key – a social emotional toolkit for teens – which aim to teach teenagers self awareness, emotional intelligence and practical life coping skills to help reduce the rates of mental illness.

 

Lisa Entwisle – Podcast host and founder of Wellthy Living: “My mantra is “connection is medicine and I hope the content of these episodes can inform and inspire you to live a meaningful, connected and wellthy life.”

Workshopping with teens in Romania

I was invited by my Romanian friend and colleague Ema to run a workshop at ‘Homing’ pop-up festival (25th June – 2nd July) in Timisoara, Romania, a city I had never been to in a country I knew nothing about. I had never thought to run a workshop there – I guess out of the naive viewpoint that locals wouldn’t speak English.

I agreed to be a part of this collaborative project on the concept of ‘home’ – leaving home, coming back home – in a country where young people finished school and almost immediately went overseas to further their career and educational opportunities. They learn German and English at school and are almost groomed to leave and start a ‘better life’ causing both a gap in the number of young people in the city and also a lack of connection between the older more traditional Romanians and the younger generation.

I was to run a workshop for ten teenagers and decided to run two evening sessions with adults too, mostly because I was there so why not! But here I want to talk about the teens. Ten 14-17 year olds and one twenty year old from the Heavenly Hell theatre group came and met me in the morning at Casa Artelor in downtown Timisoara for what was to be a three-hour creative writing workshop on the idea of home.

I had organised three to four activities and was a little nervous. By the end of the introduction I was feeling quite comfortable that I was on the presence of a group of confident, intelligent and perfect English speaking young people.

We never got past the first exercise which was about understanding where you think from and trusting yourself (trusting your gut) and believing in that space. We spent the next three-hours brainstorming, throwing around ideas, sharing concepts and thoughts and asking questions. Lots of questions.

The conversation turned to politics, spirituality, religion and trying to understand their place in such an orthodox country where thinking for yourself and voicing any opposition was still considered taboo by the powers that be. For me it was a tricky navigation of guiding young teenagers through trusting their doubts, concerns and their voice whilst recognising the country and culture that I was sitting in.

Once they recognised that sitting with me – an Australian author and counsellor was a safe place to voice their difficulties the questions got deeper and we went an hour over time allowing them to try and get to the bottom of what worried them – How do I found my spiritual path? How do I know if I am on the right path? Is there a wrong path? Where is God? How do we know?

And my favourite question that genuinely stopped me in my tracks when I had to answer this: “My priest tells me that if I don’t pray and come to church every week I will go to hell … but if you murder someone you can repent and still go to heaven. How does that make sense?”

I will never forget these incredible, bright, enthusiastic and inquisitive young human beings who both supported and challenged me in this new environment.

Here are some of the comments the students said afterwards.

“Such a fresh air in this traditional city you are. I didn’t get the answers but more questions to help put me on my path. Good to see that there are people whose stories can have a really nice impact on you. I’d love it if I could stay in this state of mind at least for a few more hours. This workshop was such an interesting one. Nice to meet you Romi.”

17 year-old.

“This meeting was really unexpected (in the most positive way). People like you inspire me to try new things – from religions to cultures and lifestyles and to be a better person. After getting to know a bit about you and your purpose I know that maybe that’s something that make me happy and feel fulfilled. Thank you for teaching us about what instinct and gut feeling is and how to use it. Thank you for coming to Romania and especially Timisoara. I will never forget you.”

17 year-old.

“In a really traditional country it is nice to have free and open discussions about such profound themes. I liked the first exercise but what I liked the most about this workshop is that the conversation flowed freely and it ended up being an interesting session of learning and deeper understanding not only of ourselves but the world. Good job Romi.”

15 year-old.

“… I was surprised to see how easily I could write because I have always said things in a complicated way in which people can not understand.”

17 year-old.

“It was a really good and relaxing atmosphere. I felt like I could talk about anything and it felt really good to see that there are people who share the same thoughts as I do because sometimes I feel like an outsider. At this workshop my mind felt relaxed because it didn’t need to always be prepared to give the ‘right answer’ and I learned how to handle my emotions and embrace spontaneity because sometimes what comes from the heart or the gut can be better than what comes from the brain. I felt that I received a new little family here when I was accepted as I am.”

15 year-old.

“Today I felt like I discovered a lot about myself and that felt really good. The boundaries that I had before just went away and I feel so much more ready to experience the beauty of life. I am not much of a writer but it was a really nice and warm experience.”

14 year-old.

“It was quite interesting to meet a person of likeminded mindset (double usage of mind – you know where this comes from). I read a lot of history and philosophy and the most recurring themes appeared here today. The gut of writing and the aspects of the body discussed were a cool way of looking at writing itself. It is also interesting how the other people interpreted it and even more how the discussion came about to a wider scope.”

20 year-old.

“Today was a very fun experience. We learned a lot, we chatted a lot and most important we had fun. The activities were smartly chosen because they had a purpose: to teach us how to handle life. I wish for myself in the future to participate in more workshops, projects and activities like this because I think it will help me grow up with hope, be smart and in a happy way.”

14 year-old.

 

 

THE KEY: Hear what the students had to say

Teaching TEENAGERS about EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE is no easy task, but I was up for the challenge.

My latest book THE KEY became the workbook in my curriculum that I recently taught to grade 7 (12-13 year-olds) at Bialik College in Melbourne, the top academic school in the State.

But academia doesn’t factor when talking about emotions, as the Head of Middle School discovered when he attended one of my classes to find that it wasn’t the usual ‘smart kids’ putting their hands up, but everyone else also.

One-hour weekly classes, over a ten-week period, teaching roughly 75 students in total.

We truly started from the beginning:

“Does anyone know what emotional intelligence is?”

The response was 100% “no”.

As with every topic, they were asked to write down what they thought it might mean before bringing it in for a group discussion.

A large range of topics were covered using the tools of writing therapy, discussion, youtube, some activities, and journaling homework.

This course was about discovering your identity and thinking for yourself. There was no right or wrong, nothing was being marked or graded, this was about YOU, your thoughts, feelings, questions and concerns. Who are you? All big topics but when broken down in to smaller topics, it all can just make sense.

It is impossible to wrap up the course in one piece of writing so I will share with you some student feedback given to me on a few of the topics covered.

ON IDENTITY:

“I can be myself. I don’t need to hide anything”

POSITIVE THINKING:

“I thought I couldn’t do it (a task) but then I changed my thought pattern in to a positive one and I did it”

FRIENDSHIP:

“I started being more honest with my friends and they were honest to me and we made a stronger friendship”

ON SUCCESS AND FAILURE:

“I used to think I constantly failed but it really depends on how you define things”

FRIENDSHIP:

“Instead of saying ‘no’ to someone, I helped them with what they needed. It made me feel like a better person and a helpful person”

JEALOUSY AND ENVY:

“I watched something and I didn’t feel jealous and it felt really good”

LEARNING BREATH:

“I did better in a test because I took deep breaths first and felt much more calm”

TONE OF VOICE:

“I stopped a fight from happening by changing the tone in my voice”

APOLOGIES:

“I apologised to someone and I meant it for the first time ever”

EMPATHY:

“When walking down the street, I saw a homeless guy so I went to Coles and bought him a loaf of bread and vegemite”

TONE OF VOICE:

“I have used a different tone of voice with my siblings this week and we have had less arguments and a much better relationship”

NEGATIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS:

“I was disappointed with myself and used the 4-step process to feel better”

JEALOUSY AND ENVY:

“I got a mark on a test and my friend got higher and I was fine instead of jealous”

TONE OF VOICE:

“I now get in to less fights with my family with understanding my tone of voice”

FAMILY:

“That my parents divorce was not my fault”

A few other topics covered: Choices, Unconditional Love, Comparisons, Happiness, Sadness and Depression.

NEXT STEP?

To get this curriculum in to EVERY school. Any suggestions, advice, partnerships welcome.

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria