Oh, shift! for Teens
Jennifer Powers and Mark Tucker
By Jami Jones
For many teens (and adults, too) the present can be a difficult place to reside. Jennifer Powers and Mark Tucker’s book, “Oh, shift! for Teens: Get control of your life with a little f ’ in shift,” helps teens handle everyday school and social situations that when not handled mindfully and thoughtfully could snowball into something embarrassing and disastrous.
Powers and Tucker describe their own past inappropriate reactions to events. For instance, Tucker describes a high school job he held at a men’s clothing store. His sales were so good that when a managerial position came open he knew this promotion was his, but the honors went to another salesperson. Tucker’s attitude sank so low he almost lost the job he loved. What was Tucker’s take-away from this situation? He was the only person being hurt by his bad attitude.
Powers shares stories about her inappropriate responses, too. She describes the time her Camaro — the one with the new paint job — was rear-ended and a shouting match ensued. “Well, the Cadillac lady got so mad at me for tearing into her, that when we exchanged contact information she used it to make a phone call to my parents,” and I was grounded from going to the senior prom. Powers’ lesson: “I could only be mad at myself.”
“Oh, shift!” provides an important mes- sage about mindfulness and techniques for teens, who can find themselves in trouble by responding inappropriately, lashing out and letting the brain’s amygdala chart their course.
The amygdala plays a substantial role in mental states and is linked to psychological disorders such as social anxiety, obsessive and compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and appears to play a role in binge drinking. Although this book is not written specifically for teens with psychological disorders, all teens can benefit from Powers and Tucker’s “shifthead” advice.
Although the book title is catchy and may pique teens’ curiosity, the message is deep and the shift is necessary. Many teens bring trouble on themselves through mindless split-second reactions instead of carefully thinking through responses to life challenges. Powers and Tucker recognize this impulsivity and have written a book and accompanying workbook to bring the mindfulness message to teens directly. This book is suitable for use in school or as an after-school curriculum.
“Oh, shift! for Teens” is based on Powers’ adult-focused book, “Oh, shift!” (Powerhouse Publications, 2012). Powers is a life coach whose collaboration with Tucker, an educator, transitions the shift message to the teen audience. This book is organized around stories of missed opportunity, the value of gratitude, the danger of bullies, the need to control and other everyday challenges teens face. The book’s purpose is to help teens choose their words, shift perspectives and assume responsibility for their lives. The book’s typeset and use of various fonts, as well as the author’s avatars, gives a fresh, with-it feel that may attract teen readers.
The workbook consists of 10 lessons that engage teens’ critical thinking through questions posing to understand what is occurring in class or social situations. Each lesson consists of five sections: Class read aloud; What do you think?; Putting it into practice; Selfassessment; and Homework. Each chapter begins with a quote, such as this from Ellen DeGeneres: “The world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity and a lot of judgment. I just think people need to start shifting into joy and happiness. As corny as it sounds, we need to make a shift.”
The shift that Powers and Tucker describe is vitally important. Whether we call it mindfulness, changing perspective, thinking before acting or staying out of trouble, this book belongs on professionals’ bookshelves and in teens’ hands.