How you can empathize with teenagers

How you can empathize with teenagers

Can you remember how you felt about yourself when you were aged 13 or 14? Did you have loads of self-confidence or many self-doubts? When you looked in the mirror did you feel lovable and capable or unsure of who you were, did not like the image before your eyes and had many confused thoughts? How did you respond to peer pressure? A while ago I asked some young people, aged 13 and 14, to complete an anonymous questionnaire about how they view themselves. Their responses highlighted the importance of connecting with their school community, preferably having some non-judgmental adult cheerleaders to encourage them on their journey. Empathize with teenagers “I am not good with teamwork.” (male) “I care about others and don’t like to see my friends hurt.” (female) “I need to stand up for people more. But I am positive and I want to make the world a better place.” (male) “I am not scared to stand up and tell people what’s right.” (female) “I see that I have lots of friends and feel safe in that community. I stand up for what’s right even though there are consequences.” (male) “I see that I am headstrong and stand up for what is right. I also care about people and want to make a positive difference in the world. I could improve in knowing when I need help or not.” (female) “I am more willing to help others more than myself. I am not very confident in myself.” (male) “I am stubborn, but I know when to step down. I care about others and want to help them...
How you can encourage a teenager who wants to drop out

How you can encourage a teenager who wants to drop out

Were there any times in your youth when you felt like dropping out of school? Personal issues clouded your judgment, perhaps? Or you felt that you had no-one to turn to? Or you feared leaving school because you had no idea what career to follow? We have no idea what lies around the corner later today, tomorrow, next week, next month or next year. It is unknown territory especially for our youth who are continually hearing that many of today’s jobs will disappear, yet no-one knows what the future job market will hold. The storm clouds of confusion are threatening and never seem to move along.  Over the years I have spent time with young people who have been struggling with issues like these for a variety of reasons. Some have wanted to give up completely and leave school, believing that they can find a job and that is all that is important. There will be a story behind these feelings, as there always is and, if you are in a mentoring role, you will probably be able to discern what is going on as you and your mentee establish a trusting and meaningful relationship. Be patient, as this might take some time. So often young people need encouragement to share what is on their mind knowing that they will not be judged. Often they need reassurance that their current state of confusion is experienced by an overwhelming number of teenagers at a variety of times during the adolescent journey. There are occasions when they might need a reality check before they make a decision, such as dropping out...
10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

10 Daily Tips for you to encourage Teenagers to fulfill their potential

Did you have any superstitions or strange habits when you were an adolescent? I certainly did. When I was padding up to bat in a Cricket match, I always put my left pad on first. Why on earth did I do that? It seems so strange when I think about it now. You will see some of the top Tennis players, for example, have superstitions – how they walk off the court at the end of the game; how they move at the end of a point; how they lay out their seating area; mannerisms before they serve a ball …. Or, did you have something special you did to rid yourself of exam nerves, as Angie did? “You’ll think this is really silly,” Angie said to me when we were chatting about positive preparation for her final exams. “Nothing is silly if it helps you stay calm and rids you of stress,” I responded. “Well, before I write my exams, I listen to a whole lot of my favorite Disney film songs,” Angie informed me with a broad smile. “It just works for me and makes me feel calm and happy.” “And your brain is releasing some chemicals that will help you feel positive and calm, a ‘feel good’ effect,” I was able to offer as a word of encouragement. Australian psychologist, Andrew Fuller, comments in his excellent book – well worth reading, as it is loaded with helpful tips – Tricky Teens – How to create a great relationship with your teen … without going crazy!, about the power of music to access our emotions and suggests...
5 Key qualities for you to be a Great Mentor of Teenagers

5 Key qualities for you to be a Great Mentor of Teenagers

Do you think young people, especially teenagers, need volunteer adult mentors to guide them through the challenging years of their adolescence? I was close to completing my daily morning walk a few hours ago and passed two groups of students on their way to school. The first group was about 13 years of age or so, a couple of boys trying to grab the attention of the girls, nothing unusual about that. The second group was a year or two older and this time two girls were trying to attract the attention of three or four boys. Listening to the banter going on between these young people, the impact that peer pressure was having on each of them, probably in different ways, underlined for me how important it is for young people to have non-judgmental trusted adult Cheerleaders in their lives. The value of connection What was clear from these two groups of students was that every one of them, without exception, valued a connection with peers, that sense of belonging. How that plays out during the day, weeks and months, I have no idea, though some relationships will probably be strengthened and others might become wobbly, even fall apart. Who do these young people turn to for encouragement, support and guidance, I wondered? The power of mentoring I was browsing the internet yesterday wondering if there are any organisations in New Zealand that run mentoring programs for School Principals and Senior Leaders in schools, as I thought that is something I could become involved in now that I am retired. I am still incredibly grateful for the former...
14 practical ways you can encourage and support teenagers from high risk environments

14 practical ways you can encourage and support teenagers from high risk environments

“Kids don’t need independence, they need interdependence. People are homeless because they have no functioning human relationships in their lives. Who in this society can live independently? All human beings want to belong somewhere.” (Pat O’Brien – founder of You Gotta Believe Program for older foster teens in New York) Have you worked with young people from high-risk environments or from families that are not functioning too well? Having been an educator for 40 years and been actively involved in youth mentoring programs, I have come across young people who had been physically and/or emotionally abused and was often in awe of their resiliency as they worked through life’s challenges. Yesterday I was researching for a book I am writing to encourage teachers and was reminded of the major challenges facing these educators when working with students from disadvantaged and/or high risk environments where there might be poverty, abuse, bullying and trauma. These students will probably experience different levels of toxic stress, depending on their personal experiences, which can disrupt development and cause learning problems. Their possible antisocial behavior can lead to social failure, which may produce a depressed mood. Rejection from peers, family or extended family problems and academic difficulties contribute to the onset of depression among boys in particular. Parenting behavior contributes significantly to a young person’s self-esteem. Non-compliance and anti-social behavior are related to low self-esteem. 14 practical ways to support and encourage teenagers from high-risk environments Volunteer adults working with young people must always remember that they cannot and should not try and fix families or rescue teenagers. The task will be tough and challenging, requiring...