Girl Talk: Interview with Author Dr. Carol Langlois About her new Book for Teen Girls.

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We’ve loved Dr. Carol Langlois’s advice for Your Teen readers over the years, so we were excited to hear about her new book, Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies & Body Image. We caught up with Dr. Carol to find out more.

Tell us about the approach you took with this book?

In total, I interviewed (and taped) about 160 girls from 10 schools in the Bay Area. After sharing my taped interviews with a few other writers and editors, they suggested that sharing (their stories) from a first person perspective would be very powerful. In the end, I chose 10 stories of ten girls who’s challenges with self-esteem were relatable and transcended culture, race, and socio-economics.

What’s going well for girls these days? 

I would say that their access to and utilization of information is abundant. They can educate themselves on so many topics more easily today. If they want to learn about puberty, smoking, pregnancy, healthy eating, etc.—they can. They know the risks and the pro and cons of most things to make better informed decisions. Many teens today have strong opinions about drugs and alcohol, the environment, or global warming for example because of information from the web. This is incredibly beneficial in helping them make smart choices.

But many are struggling? 

For the book, I interviewed quite a few girls who were dealing with or had survived through some form of an eating disorder, which I think is worth noting. More abundantly were issues of perfection and anxiety—not necessarily unrelated to eating disorders.

Stop the critical self-talk. Instead, model positive self-acceptance around girls.

Teens are stressed out more than ever. I call this  the “duck syndrome.” Think about the duck who looks very serene, calm, and pleasant floating along a lake. Then, if you look under the water she is paddling frantically. That is the duck syndrome. Too many students on the outside appear calm, cool, and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. Its a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality. For many, they want to be the great student, the great athlete, and well-liked by peers. But what price do they pay? Proving you can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for teens at any age. I’ve seen this further progress into eating disorders for the perfect body and drug addictions to manage the high pace and stress. This is a recipe for disaster.

- See more of this interview here.

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The Benefits of Being Scared

Excerpt from my article in World of Psychology, The Benefits of Being Scared.   th

Being scared isn’t always a negative. You can be scared in many different ways..right? There is the “scary movie” kind of scared, where you don’t know what’s going to pop out on the screen. The jumping out of a plane kind of scared, where you fear real death and your adrenaline is pumping loudly.  Lastly, there is the “taking a chance” kind of scared, where you have to address someone or something that’s anxiety producing and you don’t know if the outcome will be favorable.

Now, with a scary movie, we look forward to being scared.  We want it; anticipate it. We set the mood. Shut off the lights, grab the popcorn and get ready to be entertained.

When jumping out of a plane, we are excited about the experience even if it is anxiety producing. It gives some people a huge rush to look death in the face, which later can make you feel invincible.

Now, the “taking a chance” kind of scared is a little different. This is the kind of fear we don’t look forward to. We avoid it at any cost and dread it all the way through. It’s no surprise that public speaking is the number #1 fear of most people. Why? Because you are willingly putting yourself out there for others to judge you… and who wants to do that?  However, this kind of fear, I believe is the most rewarding and can help teens build self-esteem and confidence.

For more from this article, click here.

The Realities of Teen Dating Violence and Ways to Move on

thTeen dating violence is a reality that many people fail to realize and even fewer talk about. Many parents of teens believe teen dating violence is not even an issue. However, approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.  I recently discovered that a teen’s confusion about the law and their desire for confidentiality are two of the most significant barriers stopping young victims of abuse from seeking help.

Lastly, many teens hold on to the delusion that their partner will change or that the violence was just a one-time thing. Once it does happen again – and it will – they make excuses or rationalize why it happened again. Trust me, if it happens once, it will happen again. Don’t let it. GET OUT IMMEDIATELY!

Take Action

Teens, be strong and break up with the person. Here’s how: Do it in person (if it’s safe), or do it over the phone. Just do it! Don’t listen to his (or her) apologies or excuses, and cut off communication with him. I understand this is easier said than done, especially if you go to school with him, you work with him, or you live near him. Keep your friends close during this time and lean on your parents. Teach yourself to be strong. Build a powerful shield around you, face your challenges, and speak up. Call a hotline if you feel more comfortable. Protect yourself. Do it for yourself, for your little sister, for the girl still in an abusive relationship. Let them draw strength from your resilience. Speaking out against the abuser shows huge strength and resiliency.

Dating violence is no joke. Tell someone immediately or ask their opinion if you feel unsure about something that was said or done to you. If you don’t feel safe telling a family member or a friend, call a website or a hotline. The call is anonymous and the people on the other end are trained professionals. They will not judge you, but they can talk you through the experience, help you decide how to move forward, and give you ways for ending the relationship safely.

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Support 

A great solution for someone who has suffered a traumatic experience is twofold. One, join a support group with other teen girls who’ve gone through similar situations. This will help you know you’re not alone, and surrounding yourself with others who can relate to the experience mentally and emotionally helps a lot. Ask a therapist about an appropriate group to join or start by calling your health plan. Chances are it has services and groups available to help you heal.

Two, get physical, but in a “mindful” way. What does that look like? It looks like yoga, meditation, tai chi, or dance. It grounds you and helps you reflect on yourself in a deeper way. I would encourage you to take a class at a gym, the YMCA, or another community recreational center. If you’re nervous about trying something like this because it’s new, bring a friend along. You can both go through the class and learning process together. Although you have a friend for support, you will still build independence and self-confidence. You will start to release the questions you had about why you stayed or why you second-guessed yourself. There’s something about the physical movement in these activities that helps victims reclaim their spirit and embrace themselves in a more loving way.

Remember, removing yourself from a violent relationship is the ultimate way to respect and love yourself.  Always put yourself first and leave. Remove from your mind any statements the abuser uses to make you stay such as, “It’ll never happen again,” “I love you,” or, “If you take me back it will be different.”  Sometimes it helps to write these statements down, let your anger build, and then rip them up or burn them one by one (but please do not set any illegal or unsupervised fires!). Throw the remains into your fireplace or a bonfire. As you do so, make a promise to always put yourself first.