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Home » What Adolescents (Or Teenagers) Need To Thrive: Charisse Nixon (Transcript)

What Adolescents (Or Teenagers) Need To Thrive: Charisse Nixon (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of Charisse Nixon’s talk titled “What Adolescents (Or Teenagers) Need To Thrive” at TEDxPSUErie conference.

In this TEDx talk, Charisse Nixon, a developmental psychologist, emphasizes the critical importance of fostering protective factors in adolescents to help them thrive. She identifies relational aggression as a significant issue but highlights the need to focus on youths’ strengths rather than just the negative aspects.

Nixon discusses how meaningful connections, rooted in empathy, gratitude, forgiveness, and humility, are essential for positive development. She stresses that adolescents need to practice these “four gems” to build resilience and foster meaningful relationships.

The talk also addresses the challenges posed by consumerism and the pressure to conform, which can hinder authentic connections. Nixon shares a personal story about her sister to illustrate the profound impact of empathy and forgiveness on relationships. Ultimately, she calls on adults to model and teach these values, underscoring our collective responsibility in guiding adolescents towards a path of growth and connection.

Listen to the audio version here:


Thank you so much for having me. I’m a developmental psychologist, and what that means is that I study how we change. I study people. I study kids. But more than anything, what I do is rest in research. Research drives my bus. And when you say that to people, that doesn’t all the time go so well.

But let me tell you a little bit about what I studied and how I started. I started studying the effect of marital conflict on kids. I then went to studying the effects of peer conflict on kids. I settled on studying relational aggression. Relational aggression uses relationships to hurt others.

And if you think the kids just do this, you’re wrong. We all have done this. And so we know that relational aggression is really damaging. And I studied this for a lot of years. But here’s what I learned. I was missing half of the puzzle. I was missing a big chunk of the puzzle because I was so focused on the negative. What I forgot was that there’s a whole other side. Kids have strengths. Youth have strengths. We have strengths.

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