Hello! We are Chris and Paula, founders of Your Self Series™ (YSS). While you are clearly concerned and involved in your child’s education, health and well-being, we, too, have a vested interest in helping our future generations – it’s the whole reason we developed Your Self Series™. We believe all children deserve a chance to grow up to be happy, healthy, purposeful and passionate individuals who feel comfortable being WHO THEY ARE.
To that end, we spent years designing this program. We worked closely with teens, conducted surveys and listened as they told us what would help them explore their passions and reach their goals. The result is the YSS program: created with, and dedicated to, teens.
In the following boxes, we aim to answer as many questions as possible that you may have about Your Self Series™, everything from its purpose and structure, to how you can support your own child in the process.
If we failed to answer one of your questions, please do not hesitate to contact us via email. (Yes, seriously, you can contact us!)
Thank you for visiting the site.
Paula & Chris
Co-founders, Your Self Series™
What is YSS?
Your Self Series™ is a program – consisting of three interactive books and this website – that focuses primarily on the development of the self. YSS is typically taught during the middle school years but can begin as early as fifth grade and can extend into high school depending on the needs of the population. It is most often taught as a health, advisory or an after school program.
Your Self Series™ empowers young teens with the correct information and encouragement to deal with tough issues, find their inner self and feel more confident in life. How? By helping them develop their identities through a solid sense of self.
A solid sense of self is what enables a person to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “Where do I want to go in life?” with clarity and confidence. It is the critical component necessary for sound decision-making, a sense of purpose and life-long happiness. YSS is the only series that provides this self focus – again, a critical component of the teen years and yet one seldom addressed in schools.
Our society talks about happiness and success for our children. But happiness is not the outcome of success. Success is the outcome of happiness. A true inner feeling of worth and belonging is the foundation for motivation, resilience and passion.
Why is a program like YSS needed?
Today, young teens are asked to navigate complex social pressures, emotional turbulence, varying expectations, hormonal changes and academic rigors unparalleled by previous generations. How are they managing all of this? Sadly, many are not. Fifty percent of adolescents are now diagnosable with at least one emotional, behavioral or substance abuse disorder (source: Scientific American Mind, January/February 2013). We are raising a generation that does not feel worthy or good enough and because of this we are fast becoming the most heavily medicated, addicted and overweight society on this planet (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html). To change these trends we need to provide the strongest foundation possible so that our future generations feel worthy – they are good enough! It is time for a change. Ask yourself: What is important for your child? What do you want for his or her future? Most parents generally say things such as:
“love,” “a strong sense of family,” “health,” “success,” “happiness,” “fulfillment,” “peace.”
These are not things guaranteed by academic success: these are things achieved with a solid sense of self, the goal of YSS. These are states obtained when a child feels worthy.
What do you believe to be the most important lessons for your child? What will propel him into the 21st century mindset fully armed for the small (and large) battles that all adults face? What internal strengths will help him persevere? What weaknesses might she have? How will she overcome them? Are the answers to your questions found in strong academics or strong self skills (communication, resilience, emotional management, etc.)?We aren’t saying that strong academics are not important. They are. But strong academics alone won’t bring your child success in life. Your child needs strong self skills for her academic skills to flourish and bring success.
How do self skills benefit my child?
Learning how to navigate life’s social, emotional, physical and moral dilemmas is of paramount concern for the welfare of our children. Being able to navigate those dilemmas with strength, clarity and confidence is dependent on self skills. For instance:
When students have social skills they are more likely to successfully navigate peer pressure;
when students identify with prevention programs, they are less likely to do drugs;
when students develop empathy, they are less likely to bully and more likely to help a friend who is bullied;
when students understand mental health, they are more likely to make good decisions about their own;
when students become self-aware they are better able to manage their emotions.
when students learn about and develop resilience skills, their creativity flourishes as well as their fear of failure;
when students discover strategies for communication and collaboration, they feel more successful in future jobs and relationships.
When teens develop these skills through a program such as YSS, life stressors are reduced and academic learning goes up (http://casel.org/why-it-matters/benefits-of-sel/meta-analysis/). By building a strong sense of self, your children have the foundation needed for a happy, purposeful and successful life.
What is in the books?
YSS is composed of three books and an interactive, free website. Schools use the books to lay the foundation for the self and then weave website material into the program to further support that ever-changing identity. Here, we briefly discuss the books (but you can also view the books and read sample chapters by clicking on “Books” in the navigation bar).
The first book, Discover Your Self, covers all the internal factors that create your sense of self (your brain, body, thoughts, feelings, morals, and the mind body connection). The second book, Manage Your Self, covers all the external factors that impact the self (friends, family, media, culture, school and experiences). The third and final book, Express Your Self, covers the cyclical interaction of the self with the world emphasizing that what you “put out there” will, in turn, produce a related experience (topics explored are communication, personality, relationships, work, artistic expression and decision making).
The hallmark of the Series is the self reflective questions throughout each book, found in the color green and usually in “Pitstops”. Pitstops do not ask teens to regurgitate the information, but rather to contemplate it and apply it to themselves: What would you do in this situation? What do you think of this information? How does it make you feel? How is it useful to you? In this way the material becomes personally meaningful to them. When material gains personal meaning, it supports motivation and retention. (Note: Teens write directly in the books – making the books a personal journey and journal they can keep and even return to if desired.)
The books are best taught in sequence as skill formation builds throughout the Series and as a mini-drama between four characters demonstrates the various skills presented (thereby providing a vicarious learning experience).
What does the website offer?
The website is used to supplement the material discussed in class and provides in depth information on a wide variety of topics. Teachers may assign certain web “posts” depending on the issues mandated by the State and on the setting and topics the teacher feels is needed for each individual class. For instance, “nutrition” may be mandated by the State for health classes, while exploring the key components of a healthy relationships may be appropriate at other times. In this manner, YSS is able to meet the needs of different settings and individuals. Your children are unique! We believe they benefit from a program that can address their unique needs.
As such, the website has a wide variety of different topics. Many topics are mandated by schools to teach, such as reproduction, nutrition and smoking. Many are topics teachers have asked us to provide, such as resilience, decision-making and food allergies. Other topics students have expressed a desire to learn, such as secrets, crushes and back-to-school advice. Overall, the website provides a safe place (with absolutely no outside advertising anywhere on the site) for teens to learn about who they are in relation to a host of relevant and timely concerns. With every topic, teens are encouraged to post their opinions and participate in various activities.
Please take some time to visit the teen side of the site (link at the bottom of this webpage) to familiarize yourself with the types of topics we cover and the tone we use. Under each of the six main topic headings, you will find individual topics listed. Click on one- the content will be on the left side of the page, the additional “posts” in that topic listed in the top right corner. Explore!