How to Break Out of Your Shell at School

Guest article for Teen Vogue by Dr. Carol 

Moving to a new state and starting over at a new school sounds exhilarating — until you realize it’s time to socialize with a whole new group. With so many changes, acclimatizing to college may seem more difficult than your advanced calculus class. But remember: Everyone is feeling the same way as you — some students are just easier at hiding it, Dr. Carol Langlois, a teen and youth culture expert and author of Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, tells Teen Vogue. With that in mind, use these tips to help you break out of your shell so college is no sweat.

Sleep tight

Yes, eight hours of shut-eye is definitely your ticket to staying awake during class, but it also presents an opportunity to begin a new slate and help manage those night-before jitters.

“Set yourself up for success before you go to bed. Have your alarm set to play your favorite song so you wake up in a comfortable space. Or, have a photo of you and your best friends by the bed that you can look at first thing in the morning. I’d rather wake up looking at that instead of a bunch of schoolbooks sprawled across the floor,” Dr. Carol says.

Similarly, anything that reminds you that you are talented, valued, and loved creates the same effect. Dig up any trophies or special ribbons and splay them across your night table.

Start your morning off on the right foot

Yes, breakfast is definitely a must, but overnight oats aren’t going to do you any good if your mind isn’t in the right place.

Dr. Carol suggests practicing positive thinking for three to five minutes before you get out of bed (that does not include scrolling through Instagram!). Keep your eyes closed and remain calm, breathing in and out.

“Tell yourself ‘Today is going to be a good day. I am going to have fun with my friends. School is going to be okay,’ and so forth,” she says. “You have to consistently manage the negative attitude, get out of bed with a clear head, and start the day in a positive space, or at least move in that direction.”

Don’t overanalyze

Think about all those times you tried to rehearse what you’d say out loud, only to beat yourself up after it came out wrong, or someone spoke over you and you missed your chance. Conversations that flow organically breed deeper bonds.

“I know this may sound strange, but don’t think too much. Stop constantly second-guessing, questioning, and wondering. I know blocking out the negative can be exhausting, but what’s the alternative? Being depressed, sad, or angry? Think of all the energy you waste dwelling on those feelings,” Dr. Carol says.

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When do I Introduce my Daughter to Code?

Introducing Girls to Code

As a VP at Hackbright Academy, (the leading coding school for women) people always ask, “What is the best age to introduce my daughter to code?”  My answer.… “As soon as possible!”  The same goes for all the STEM sciences (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math.)   It’s never to early to introduce a child to something new. The next question they ask is always– How?

Every child is different, but why not expose them to “all things science” early on in a fun way.  There are: science museums, science based board games and video games, science based TV shows, experiments you can watch on Youtube, great tutorials by Khan academy, coding camps for kids, and the list goes on.  The earlier any child is exposed to something new, the more it opens their eyes to possibility. It makes them curious about the world.  First hand exposure is always a great tool and it provides a safe environment for children to ask questions if they are a bit shy.Unknown

The other day I passed a dad and daughter on the street.  They were crouched down on the sidewalk looking at something. (I’d say the daughter was about 7 years old.) Once I got closer, I could see that they were inspecting an acorn.  A very large and lonely acorn that seemed out of place on such a busy city street.  Where did it come from? The dad was talking about what an acorn is, what it does, the shell, how it will spout, etc. He was also taking the time to answer all his daughter’s questions. It was a wonderful exchange and teachable moment that they were both clearly enjoying. He didn’t rush by the acorn on the sidewalk, he stopped and took notice of his daughter’s curiosity.  He used the opportunity to teach her about nature.  This type of time and patience helps ignite curiously in kids. So, introduce your child to code (or any science) when you are ready to dive in and be part of the conversation with them. If they see that you are engaged and curious then they will be too.

If you need help identifying some great resources for your child, just reach out! 

Great Self-Esteem Exercise for Teens: The Mirror Exercise.

Girl-Looking-MirrorGuest Blog by Christina Verzijl 

Some days looking in the mirror can be more upsetting than anything else. On those days, thoughts tend to flood my mind that are centered on the parts I don’t like about myself like, “I hate my thighs” or “I wish my stomach was flatter.” In today’s society, the mirror represents a way for girls and women to pick apart their flaws and find all the parts of themselves that need “fixing.”

But, have no fear because I have discovered a new way to use and love the mirror! In a sense, we are taking back the mirror and using it to show our strengths rather than concentrating on the aspects society tells us are flaws. In the Body Project Program, we call this exercise the Mirror Exercise. The Mirror Exercise consists of standing in front of the mirror, with as little clothing as possible and writing a list of 10-15 positive characteristics or qualities you are satisfied with. These characteristics include both emotional and physical qualities. And most importantly, we can like certain body parts for how they look, but also for what they can do for us. For instance, I love my muscular legs for how they look, but I also like them for how they help me run and do yoga.

I do this exercise once a week, and it has allowed me to completely transform the way I use the mirror. Before discovering the Mirror Exercise, I used the mirror to concentrate on all the parts of myself that I wanted to change. Now, I feel empowered when I make a point to stand in front of the mirror and compliment myself. It’s an amazing thing to transform the use of an object from causing self-hate to producing self-love. Because, in the end, my body allows me to do so many amazing things and those amazing things are what I need to be concentrating on and appreciating every time I look at my reflection.

Christina Verzijl has implemented Body Project 4 High Schools in Texas. She hopes that this positive body image program will help girls to learn to love themselves and their bodies one group at a time!