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A New Norm: Book Discussion Questions

A New Norm book cover artUse “A New Norm” to spark meaningful discussions within families, school classrooms and church youth groups.

“There once was a boy whose name was Norm and inside his head was a terrible storm.” (page 1)

What feelings do you have that are similar to Norm’s?

Answers will vary; may include sadness, fear, anxiety, grief, doubt, shame or guilt.

What situation in your life triggers that feeling?

Answers will vary but may include:

  • Difficult situations at home
  • Rejection or bullying at school – feeling like I don’t have any friends
  • Poor grades or difficulty keeping up with homework and school
  • Seeing other kids achieving in sports, music or grades and feeling like I don’t measure up

What about the situation can you control?

Example answers – I can only control me or I can also control the way I look at the situation. I can control making the choice to ask for help.

If you could think about the situation differently, what would that thought be? How would your feelings change if you thought that way instead?

Example answer – Right now I think that there is nothing good about it. But I could remember that I get more one-on-one time with each of my parents now that I switch back and forth from house to house.

“He tried yelling and shouting and screaming real loud but it had no effect on that nasty old cloud.” (page 15)

What have you tried to make yourself feel better? Did it work?

Answers will vary but may include:

  • Negative behaviors such as substance abuse, acting out in anger, seeking revenge, binging on junk food
  • Positive behaviors such as getting more exercise, working on an art project, playing an instrument or singing

We are made up of different parts — our body, our mind, and our spirit. What’s something you can do to help your body feel better? Your mind? Your spirit?

Example answers – Exercise and healthy diet help the body, medication or therapy may help the mind, and meditation or prayer may help the spirit.

“The moral of the story is within you there’s a spark with a yearning to grow and overcome the dark.” (page 30)

How would your life change if everyone around you tried to grow each other’s sparks?

Example answer – There wouldn’t be as many bullies, people may feel better because they have more support, others may not feel so alone.

Who can you speak to if you or a loved one needs help?

  • Parent
  • Adult friend
  • Teacher
  • Principal
  • School counselor
  • Pastor
  • Therapist

The “spark of light” in the story is intended to represent the positive essence that makes up the world around us, as well as the world within us. That light can be experienced in many forms, such as:

  • Talking with an encouraging friend, family member or trusted adult
  • Visiting with a counselor or therapist
  • Accepting professional medical help
  • Engaging in a healthy diet and exercise
  • Participating in creative activities
  • Helping others
  • Seeking a spiritual connection

It is important to know that persistent negative thoughts can be very harmful both mentally and physically. Recognizing them and asking for help is the best way to start working toward a happier and healthier future.

What are some negative thoughts to be concerned about?

  • Ongoing feelings of deep sadness
  • Always feeling anxious or upset
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Quick to anger or talking about seeking revenge

Use a printable discussion and resource guide at home, in classrooms or youth groups.

How to Get Help

Reach out for help for these symptoms of concern:

  • Ongoing feelings of deep sadness
  • Thoughts or comments about suicide or self-harm
  • Always feeling anxious or upset
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Quick to anger or talking about seeking revenge

Call Avera Behavioral Health Center’s 24-hour assessment line at 1-800-691-4336.

Other resources:

Live Better. Live Balanced. Avera.

Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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