Have you ever asked parents what one wish they have for their children? Have you ever asked a teenager what one wish they have for their lives? What did you wish for as a teenager?
Often you will receive answers from parents that all they wish is to see their children happy. As a teenager, I wanted to achieve so many sport goals and wanted coaches to help me achieve these goals. I wanted to be part of a supportive and encouraging team and, in that way, to have a sense of connection to and with others in my peer group. Teenagers generally want to feel connected. How do we know this? Why do they spend so much time on social media?
We have to continually remind ourselves that researchers suggest that young people want to feel
- cared for (loved)
- that their lives have meaning and purpose
If you want some quick tips each day about teenagers and how to understand, empathise, motivate and encourage them through their adolescent journey, there are FREE Mentoring Minutes tips available in the 260 podcast episodes I created. Each episode is on average between two and four minutes (maximum) and the aim of the podcasts is to let you slip one into your day each day, Monday to Friday, through the year.
7 ways to understand and encourage Today’s Teenagers
- Most of today’s teenagers learn best by doing things, reflecting on the experience and learning lessons from the activity which they can then apply to their daily lives. As adults we can help them make sense of what appears to them at times to be much confusion.
- Teenagers value and appreciate recognition for their efforts eg, a special meal, a positive text message, a congratulatory card, something special in their lunch packs, a surprise of some sort which does not have to cost a great deal of money – preferably none at all!
- Teenagers enjoy hearing true stories which they can relate to, which might motivate them, inspire them and reassure them.
- Teenagers value learning from older people they respect who are genuine and who walk the talk. Such people create an emotionally safe environment in which these teenagers also feel secure.
- Teenagers enjoy diversity and change – how can we, as mentors, parents and coaches, encourage them at such times?
- Teenagers value consensus and collaboration, two key words in their teenage world.
- Teenagers value clear and concise communication.
10 Hot Tips for Effective Mentoring, Parenting and Coaching Teenagers
I have spent years and years teaching, mentoring and coaching teenagers, while also raising two children with my wife. My children will remind you of my imperfections, so I do not claim to be an expert in this area. However, there are certain strategies we can follow as we seek to build meaningful relationships with teenagers.
These strategies will be endorsed by most youth mentoring researchers and others working with teenagers.
- Listen! Listen! Listen!
- Love unconditionally and never quit.
- Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them.
- Walk alongside them as they explore career options, always encouraging them to go after their dreams.
- Empathise and affirm.
- Negotiate boundaries and be consistent.
- Catch them doing good and celebrate!
- Journey with them through failure to make this a positive learning experience without trying to enforce your values on them.
- Support their idealism and let them know you believe in them and are their greatest cheerleaders.
- Keep envisioning the people they can become and never let go of that vision.
Do you have a story to share about how you have positively nurtured a young person to become the best they can be? Or, a story of how someone nurtured and encouraged you as a teenager which you can share with a teenager today?
About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Facebook or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website Robin’s free Mentoring Matters daily podcasts (each podcast between 1.5 and 3 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here.