23 proven goal setting tips for your mentoring journey with teenagers

23 proven goal setting tips for your mentoring journey with teenagers

Did you set goals when you were a teenager? Did you ever have someone who helped you with goal setting? If you did set goals, how effective was the process you followed? Did you achieve your goals or did you quit? Did you always feel you were reaching your potential? I have been a goal setter for most of my life. My goals motivated and inspired me to stay focused and to stand up to negative peer pressure on occasions. While I might not have achieved all my goals, I learnt much about myself through the process – and continue to do so – and enjoyed that amazing feeling when I did manage to achieve a specific goal, be it academic, sport, relational or pursuing a hobby or some other activity. What did I learn from the experience? Well, the truth is that I am still learning! Although now retired, I still set annual goals and break these down into monthly goals, because I want to lead a healthy and balanced lifestyle and enjoy a fulfilling life. The work I have done over the years as a teacher, sport coach and mentor of teenagers ALWAYS involves goal setting, as I have learnt that, when a young person starts achieving their personal goals, they begin to find meaning and purpose in their lives, they are more motivated and happier. 23 proven goal setting tips for the mentoring journey These tips can be adapted by Mentors to the particular community in which they are working. Remember, goal setting comes, for the most part, after you have established a connection with your...
When you understand a teenager’s brain, you become a miracle-maker!

When you understand a teenager’s brain, you become a miracle-maker!

Do you sometimes struggle to understand what is going on in the world of teenagers? Do you see a beautiful young person one day and then a monster the next? Do you tear your hair out at seemingly inexplicable mood swings? Do you throw up your hands in despair? Do you feel you are losing your relationship with a teenager? Welcome to the normal world of the teenager!  While I was researching adolescent behaviour and the latest adolescent brain research, I jotted down some key aspects of adolescent brain development. This knowledge significantly impacted HOW, when and why I communicated with teenagers from all walks of life as a parent, teacher, coach and mentor. We do well to pause from time to time and remember our own teenage experiences, how we felt at certain times, how we responded to situations, different people and so on as we journeyed through confusing times in search of meaning and purpose in our lives. A basic understanding of the teenage brain Due to the plasticity of the brain, it can be changed by experiences, a point that should always give HOPE to anyone working with young people. The frontal lobes make up 40% of the brain’s total volume. They are the seat of our ability to generate insight, judgment, abstraction, impulse control and planning. They are the source of self-awareness and our ability to assess dangers and risks, so we use this area of the brain to choose a course of action wisely. The frontal lobes are said to house the ‘Executive’ function of the human brain which only ceases developing in the...
3 meaningful ways you can help to calm the developing teenage brain

3 meaningful ways you can help to calm the developing teenage brain

How do you respond to a teenager on an emotional rollercoaster ride? How do you react to a teenager who feels totally lost? How do you encourage a teenager who ‘appears’ not to want encouragement? Can you remember how you were as a teenager with all your emotions flying all over the place? How did you deal with those times? These are interesting questions, though, to put us at ease, the teenage emotional rollercoaster ride is normal while the brain is still developing. Within the limbic system of an adolescent, the Amygdala, which prioritizes and learns our human survival and emotional messages (Desautels, 2016) is in full flow while the brain is developing. This area, which is involved in instinctive, impulsive, emotional and aggressive reactions (Karen Young) needs to be quieted, so that the developing Prefrontal Cortex, the area above our eyes and behind the forehead, which plays a key role in impulse control, decision-making and future planning, can come more and more into play and help us make good decisions while it is being structured and wired up as a result of our learning and experiences.  The Prefrontal Cortex will only be fully developed when we are in our mid-20s. It is interesting reading the stories of ‘successful’ teenagers or those who have scaled dizzy heights with some incredible talents. Most have worked hard or trained hard to achieve their success, yet many have no idea how to deal with their fame, partly because their brains are still developing and they probably do not receive the best mentoring to keep their feet well grounded. One point is abundantly...
How you can stay connected to young people

How you can stay connected to young people

Are there days when you wonder where your teenage child has come from? Or which side of the bed he or she climbed (or fell!) out of in the morning? Chances are they’re just being normal. Or, as a mentor, are there days when you wonder if you are achieving anything in your mentoring relationship? With so much going on in those young lives and the brain still developing, sometimes we just need to remember to stay focused and keep on keeping on being the loving parents and supportive and encouraging mentors we are. Maybe you need some user-friendly tips to encourage you? 20 meaningful ways to stay connected to young people So, here’s a summary of some research I did. 20 meaningful ways to stay connected to our young people, in no particular order, that overlap with many thoughts and ideas linked to the Spirit of Mentoring. We should spend time with our children, especially when we would rather be doing something else. Invest energy when we are exhausted; take family holidays together as much as possible. Remember, there are some key skills our children need in the 21st Century, which Schools might not be paying enough attention to: public speaking, management of time, relationship building skills, negotiation and resolving conflict skills. The mentoring relationship could enhance many of these. Bite our tongues when we want to lash out. Take a deep breath and count SLOWLY to 20 when we want to scream. Keep telling our children that we love them unconditionally and nothing will ever change that – be honest and authentic at all times. Tell our children...
How you can nurture and encourage teenagers to become mentally strong

How you can nurture and encourage teenagers to become mentally strong

How much support did you have around you when you were a teenager? What did that scaffolding look like, feel like and sound like? Who were the people who provided that scaffolding? What qualities or characteristics did they display in their relationship with you? Perhaps you need some positive signs to look out for? While working in my home office a while ago, I looked out to see a painter – probably in his 30s – sitting on the scaffolding opposite our apartment taking a selfie! A quick adjustment of the T-shirt, fingers repositioning the hair, seated upright – mobile phone at the ready, a smile and click! Great selfie which was quickly sent to a friend, a loved one? Four storeys up. Beautiful sea view with that perfect autumn day framed by a cloudless, brilliant blue sky. The scaffolding was secure, strong, supportive, enabling this special moment in a painter’s day to occur. He felt safe. That got me thinking about the signs of a mentally strong teenager and the scaffolding that supports him/her so that he/she would always feel safe and secure. I have spent many months collating years and years of adolescent research and, more recently, linking this research to the latest adolescent neuroscience research. This research has reiterated how important it is for youth to have significant adults as their non-judgmental Cheerleaders to walk alongside them during a critically important season of their lives while their brains are developing. 15 signs of mentally strong teenagers As these meaningful relationships are developed and the significant adult takes on an encouraging and nurturing role, here are 15...