Hot Stones & Funny Bones

Hot Stones & Funny Bones

by Brian Luke Ph.D. Seaward

More than seventy-five teens from across the country were interviewed on a range of topics and issues: parents, friends, sports, clothes, school violence and peer pressure. With the passion and frustration expressed by teens in their narratives, as well as in their artwork and poetry, this book is a unique combination of original teen contributions and

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More than seventy-five teens from across the country were interviewed on a range of topics and issues: parents, friends, sports, clothes, school violence and peer pressure. With the passion and frustration expressed by teens in their narratives, as well as in their artwork and poetry, this book is a unique combination of original teen contributions and effective stress- and anger-management techniques from a mental-health professional. Most important, it was designed expressly for teens.

Hot Stones and Funny Bones is divided in three sections. "Telling It Like It Is" highlights problems and issues that nearly every teen faces in the middle- and high-school years, expressed in their own voices. The second section, "The Best Way to Cope with Stress", offers a host of coping skills and relaxation techniques for teens to utilize, ranging from ways to boost self-esteem and effective anger-management skills, to meditation and creative expression. The third section, "Final Comments From Teens", reveals opinions, lessons learned and advice to parents and teenagers about the struggles and triumphs of teen years. In addition, every chapter includes "Thoughts, Reflections and Action Plans", where teens can process what they've learned, using the information to make healthy behavioral changes.

With all the stress and gamut of emotions in our hectic-and at times chaotic-world, this book will be a hit with teens trying to make sense of it all and stay sane at the same time.

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Editorial Reviews

Here is a lucid, palatable self-help book for teens, largely written by teens. Seaward, a health psychologist and author of several other self-help books, teams up with a middle-school teacher to provide not only researched advice, but also hundreds of comments and suggestions from teens across the nation, aged thirteen through eighteen. The result is engaging and authentic. Topics covered demonstrate how to deal with anger and stress, boost self-esteem, handle relationships with friends and parents, and incorporate meditation, relaxation, humor, and environmental consciousness into one's life. The book includes Thoughts and Reflections sections every few pages, prompting readers to respond to specific questions related to the text. Two examples are "In what ways do you feel anger surface during the course of a normal day?" and from the section on "reconnecting to the source" as a method for stress reduction, "Do you have a relationship with something higher than yourself? If so, how do you nurture this relationship?" Although the questions are probing, the space allotted for truly reflective answers is inadequate. Most teens will likely consider the questions but not use the text as a workbook, which would make this book a less practical purchase for libraries. Seaward and Bartlett admirably weave together background information, insightful teen advice, and areas for reflection into a clear structure. The appeal of this book will certainly come from the authors' belief in the power of the peer voice. Illus. Photos. Further Reading. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P M J (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7to 9). 2002, Health Communications, 376p,
— Cynthia Gueswel

Product Details

Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date:
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5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Part 1 - Telling It Like It Really Is

Acceptance Issues

The jocks, the cheerleaders, the IQs, the nerds and computer geeks, the skaters, the preppies, the outcasts, and let us not forget "the populars." No matter where you live, where you go to school, or with whom you hung out in grade school, in middle school and high school you are going to come face to face with the social class structure of the teen years. Let there be no doubt: This process can be brutal. Even if you're beautiful or handsome and your parents have lots of money, there are no guarantees. It's brutal! The good news is that by the time you're a senior in high school, there is a little less importance placed on this aspect.

At some level, no matter who you are, everyone's looking for acceptance and approval. In this case, it's acceptance to be liked by new friends and peers. Even among those who won't admit it, everyone would love to be considered popular. Appearance is about 80 percent of acceptance, but there are other factors in this complex equation. The most difficult factor and the wild card in the deck is the teen ego. Look out! Like an episode of Survivor, you could be voted off the island.
It would be impossible to like and be liked by everybody, but we can accept people for who they are without branding them as untouchables. The stress of being lonely is devastating.

Soma, 14, New York: "My whole life has been stressful because of all the verbal abuse that I get from other kids. You know, like being made fun of. I've had to deal with it my whole life. I'm a little overweight; that's probably why. That kind of stresses me out a lot. I try not to let it, but it always gets to me when people make comments to me or about me. Well, that's why I get made fun of the most. That, and because I do things my own way. I do what I like instead of what everyone else does. I wear the clothes I like. I listen to the music I like, and for some reason, that seems to bother some people. I don't know what their problem is, but they seem to have one with me. There are different groups in high school. They all mesh together somehow, I guess. The group I hang out with are not dorks, but they are people who are judged by their appearance, and so they have negative things said to them, like verbal abuse. It's kind of over now, but I used to get really, really depressed. I see a shrink and take Zoloft and Ritalin. I've been sad most of my life because I didn't have any friends, but I'm good now."

Thoughts and Reflections

Acceptance by one's peers is perhaps the biggest concern teens have these days
(even if they don't admit it). Acceptance includes issues ranging from the style of your hair and clothes to the music you listen to and the friends you have.
Why do you think acceptance causes so much stress?

Between acne and hormones, everyone has days when they feel like the ugly duckling.
(Remember the rest of the story? Every duckling grows up to be a beautiful swan!)
List three times each week or three places you go where you feel accepted for who you are.

Kirby, 14, Colorado: "What stresses me out are mostly social issues in school because everybody pretty much stereotypes everybody else in high school. I don't think there is a single high school in the country where everybody gets along. There is a lot of social pressure on you to be what everybody else wants you to be. There are the cheerleaders, jocks and the smart kids. You just get a label put on you, and that's the end of it. I just pretty much try to make friends with different people, and I try not to be stereotypical and decide that I'm not going to talk to somebody because they are with that group or whatever. I've been trying to get away from that, and I've noticed that if you don't try to stereotype people, you won't get stereotyped as much. They won't look at you and decide you are with one particular group because you are hanging out with so many different people."

Thoughts and Reflections

What groups or cliques are at your school? What group do you associate with?
Are you the kind of person who travels or floats from group to group?
Do you judge or stereotype people who are not in your group?

Jon, 13, Colorado: "I get blamed for many things in school, just about anything wrong that happens. When there are problems with my friends, they always bring up my name. I think it's because I'm a skateboarder. The way teachers and principals act toward us is stressful. It just seems like they watch out for us all the time, as if we are going to do something bad at every moment."

Thoughts and Reflections

Acceptance from your peers is one matter; acceptance from your teachers and principal is another. There is a very good chance that your principal may not even know who you are, but your teachers sure do.
How is your level of acceptance by adults in your life?

Problems on the Home Front

For some teens, school isn't a prison. It's an escape from prison! Time at school offers a break from some serious issues at home. In some cases, the home, which is supposed to be a safe haven, feels anything but safe, or perhaps simply it's in a state of constant flux. Part of entering the teen years is becoming more aware of a dysfunctional home life. These issues are not typically discussed with friends in the halls, bathrooms or locker rooms, often because of embarrassment or simply being overwhelmed. It could be that you learn your parents are getting divorced, or perhaps you come from a single-parent home. It could be that one or both parents have a drinking problem or an extremely bad temper. Regardless of the problem, school becomes a refuge.

Peter, 15, California: "My dad and I don't have a really good relationship, so we always fight about many things, which is an everyday occurrence. We really don't talk anymore. We just kind of lost our whole relationship. So I have to watch what I do around my house. I'm the only child, which is also a stressor because my parents place so many expectations on me. They focus entirely on me. Sometimes that can be annoying. My mom says that my dad and I are exactly alike, and if you put two things together that are exactly alike, they kind of repel each other. So everything that I don't like about him, I'm becoming. It's troubling to think that when I become a dad, I'll probably be like him. He has a lot of anger problems, and he does a lot of things that I don't really approve of him doing, like drinking. That kind of makes us not associate with each other. It's tough to be in the same house and not talking. I'm rarely home anymore. I just hang out with my friends or go to work or something. I don't really see him."

Thoughts and Reflections

Problems on the home front typically involve parents. How strong is your relationship with your father?
Your mother? If it's not good, is it salvageable? Who in your family do you turn to when your relationship with your mom or dad is tense?

Lance, 17, Kansas: "I came back to school as a junior after being away for a year in drug rehab. While I was away, I missed all that time in school. There are ways in Paradise Cove to make up the schoolwork. Instead, I read books. When my mom came to get me, I hugged her and started crying. My family flew all the way from Nebraska to Western Samoa in the South PacificÑthat's where Paradise Cove is, and believe me, it's no paradise. My mom said, 'Look who else I brought.' There was my sister, and that was a real treat for me. My sister and I were real close growing up. We just hugged and cried for a while. I hadn't seen them for more than a year, and that was a difficult adjustment. We had only corresponded through letters, and then a full year later, here they were, back in my life again. A lot can happen in a year's time. I learned my brother tried to commit suicide. My grandpa died while I was away in rehab. My grandpa was closer to me than my dad (my parents are divorced), and that broke me up. I cried for about two days over that, because I couldn't leave to get back to his funeral. I didn't even write to him while I was there, because I just wanted to come back and start fresh with him. Unfortunately, I was never given the opportunity."

Thoughts and Reflections

Chances are that you have not missed a year of your life on a South Pacific island like Lance, but in the rush of everyday life, there may be stressors because you don't have strong bonds with your family. Do you feel disconnected from anyone?

Anne, 13, California: "My parents got divorced when I was six. People often ask me, 'What do you do when you get home from school?' I just say that I do homework. They ask, 'Who do you live with?' and I say that I live with my dad all the time. He gets home at seven or eight at night. I don't switch off staying with my mom, like some kids do. I make dinner every night, and they think that is really weird. It's crazy to think about how much time I spend home alone. The thing that stresses me is that I had to learn to cook when I was six, and that's a real hardship for me. It's hard to live a normal life. It's weird to hang around with girls who have the best relationship with their moms. I don't have the best relationship with my mom, but my dad and I get along well. I think that as long as I have one good relationship, that works. My mom lives a few towns over, so I see her every once in a while."

Thoughts and Reflections

Some teens assume various roles and responsibilities when family dynamics change because of divorce, or perhaps when one parent travels frequently on business.
Can you relate to this, and if so, how does it create stress in your life?

Rob, 14, California: "My dad left my mom when I was two years old, so I don't really know him. Then my mom became very sick, so my grandfather raised me for a couple of years. I went back to live with my mom when she remarried, but my stepdad was physically abusive to me. At age eight, Social Services sent me to live with my grandfather where I lived for three more years. Then my mom died when I was nine. My grandfather developed some type of cancer, so I relocated again to live with my aunt, because it would have been more stressful for me to live with my grandfather when he was sick. So my life has been rather stressful because of all the different times I've moved. It's just kind of hard moving to a different community, and each time, it gets harder and harder. I've always felt like a visitor wherever I go. My father is still alive. I recently got a birthday card from him, and I actually have his telephone number, but I haven't called him yet."

Thoughts and Reflections

In the blink of an eye, your home situation can change. A parent dies, the remaining parent remarries, and you can feel like a stranger in your own home, if indeed it is your own home. If you care to share any thoughts about this, please take a moment to reflect. Also, how do you cope with this situation without feeling like a victim?
How do you empower yourself?

Gabrielle, 14, New York: "My biggest stressor has been my parents' divorce. It's been almost two years. It was just after my eleventh birthday. The divorce was awful. It was terrible! It took me a really long time to deal with it. I took part in this support group with some other teenagers whose parents were getting divorced at that time. I went through all the different phases, like denialÑI couldn't believe it was going to happen. I kept thinking that my parents were going to get back together, because at first they told us they were just separated. Instead, they were really getting divorced. Then I was angry, because I felt they lied to me by getting my hopes up and letting me think they were getting back together. It took me a long time to get over the divorce, and still, to this day, it frustrates me.

"It started out so complicated with this weird living arrangement. I was with my mom on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and with my dad Wednesday afternoons, Thursdays and Fridays. Then they would switch to see who got me for the weekends. I was always changing houses. It was insane. So basically I said to them, 'I can't do this anymore.' Now, I'm on a one-week-with-him, one-week-with-her basis. Mom says that she thinks it would be best if I just stayed entirely with one parent, and she wants it to be her, of course. She feels that we should have a more permanent place. It would be easier for me and my sister to grow up and learn in a stable environment. I like the one-week-on, one-week-off arrangement, because I can't be without my mom for more than one week, and I can't be without my dad for more than a week. I like it the way it is now."

Thoughts and Reflections

There is a saying that nearly every family in America is dysfunctional, meaning that no family is perfect and some family member has a problem that affects everyone else.
So if you can relate to this, consider yourself in good company. We may not have control of the cards we are dealt in life, but we do have control of our feelings. With more than half of marriages ending in divorce, many children are often left packing their bags every weekend and moving to another house. If you are in this situation, how does it make you feel?

Do a little daydreaming and write about how you would like your family situation to look.

Phuong, 14, Colorado: "I came to the United States when I was seven, and I didn't know any English. My dad fought in the Vietnam War. He was a POW for eight years. After he was freed, he was allowed to come over here. He was sponsored by the United States government because he fought with the United States. I liked coming here. I learned new things that I would never have learned if I were in Vietnam. Oh gosh, I got to know so many people, and when you are the new kid and you don't speak English, you have tons of friends. Everyone wants to be your friend, because you're different and you're strange to them. But . . . that's where I feel like I'm different from everyone else, because in my family, I translate for my mom. I'm the only one who speaks good enough English to translate for her.

"My dad works a split shift. We're not poor, but we're not living in luxury either. Right now my mom doesn't have a job because her shoulders are injured. If she raises her arm, it causes her severe pain. Much of my stress is cultural, but I feel like I have more responsibility and more stress than a normal teenager does. I've received straight A's since middle school, and the thing my parents tell me is that I have to be good because I represent the Vietnamese people. Some folks say that Vietnamese people are not very smart. I want to grow up and be successful and not have the same struggles as my parents. I work hard in school to get good grades. If I get a bad grade I won't go to college, and I won't get a good job. So little things become very big stressors for me."

Thoughts and Reflections

It's one thing to have your parents be immigrants. It's quite another to be one yourself. The expression "culture shock" doesn't even begin to explain all the stress that goes on behind the front door of your home. Are your parents immigrants?
Are you an immigrant? Are you experiencing culture shock coming to America?
Is your best friend suffering from the stressful shock of changing cultures, whether it's country to country, or just county to county?

¬2002. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Hot Stones and Funny Bones by Brian Luke Seaward. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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