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...
10 proven powerful mentoring tips for your journey with Teenagers

10 proven powerful mentoring tips for your journey with Teenagers

When you think about any adult who motivated and inspired you as a teenager, what do you remember about them? Why did they have such a positive impact on your life? Dave was one of my teachers, also my Cricket coach at one point and later my mentor who guided the development of my teaching skills. He was tough, uncompromising at times, set and expected nothing but the best effort, yet behind the tough exterior was a compassionate and caring man, a champion of the underdog. Our friendship lasted for over 40 years, at which point Dave succumbed to Cancer. Research shows that mentoring journeys lasting more than 12 months result in most mentees enjoying improved relationships with parents; better connections with school; less of an inclination to experiment with drugs, alcohol and other antisocial behaviors; enjoying greater levels of self-worth, better social skills and improved academic results. Mentoring involves making an emotional investment in a mentee’s life; building trust and encouraging; making a positive impact on a young life often experiencing confusion and self-doubt. 10 proven mentoring tips I find it difficult to determine what are the most important tips to offer a volunteer adult mentor, as so much will depend on the circumstances confronting both the mentor and the young person he or she is moving alongside. Here are 10 positive, proven and powerful tips to encourage and guide any mentors working with teenagers. When applied you will see the positive impact you are having on a young life. Encourage your mentees to develop a personal photograph of themselves in the future and to hold on to...
Life lessons when you stumble and fall

Life lessons when you stumble and fall

How did you deal with a wobbly situation when you were a teenager? Jack (18) was a talented sportsman, revered by the younger students. He was a student leader and led with a rod of iron. He battled to understand the need to reason, talk through issues and negotiate when applying disciplinary procedures. Jack led more by fear than anything else. He did, however, work incredibly hard at his sport and deserved all the success he achieved in that area. Sadly, Jack failed to follow advice and encouragement offered on many occasions. He lost his temper once too often – during the last week of his school career – and destroyed school furniture. His leadership status was withdrawn. Jack battled to accept this. I actually wondered if I would ever see or hear from Jack again. Some 20 years later, I managed to link up with Jack, sending him a message via social media, and wondered if I would hear from him. Within 24 hours Jack had replied, saying how good it was to hear from me. We exchanged a few emails and I did say that I was surprised he wanted to communicate with me. After all, I had been the person responsible for withdrawing the leadership responsibilities of someone the students looked up to as a hero. Jack responded to my comments about this in an interesting way. He acknowledged that the incident had happened some years ago, yet he was by that time (when we were communicating) older and wiser. He was happily married and the proud father of a couple of kids. A day or...
9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

9 Lifelong Lessons from Swimming the English Channel for Youth Mentoring

Have you ever chased a dream and succeeded in reaching it? I remember, as a 15-year-old, how I chased a dream to represent my State running Cross-Country, the sacrifices I made, the hard yards I put into training and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I was selected for the State team at the end of my most successful Cross-Country season and then achieved 6th place in the Inter-State race. Trent Grimsey’s story reminded me of those days, as well as the importance of sharing one’s stories with young people. They love true stories!It was a while ago that I listened to Trent, at that time the current world record holder of the English Channel swim, share his story with a group of impressionable young students. Trent described how, as an average swimmer (in his opinion) he had achieved medals and much more as a swimmer, yet narrowly missed out on selection for the 2008 Australian Olympic Team.  Wondering what he should do to stay motivated, Trent decided to swim the English Channel, not just to complete the swim, but to break the World Record. Listening to his story, I felt that there were at least nine lifelong lessons we can all learn from Trent’s experience planning and swimming the English Channel. Always have a clear goal and share it with someone you trust. Trent firmly believed that, when we have a sense of purpose, it is easier to stay motivated and inspired and to live a positive life. As a swimmer, he needed a Coach, someone who believed in him and what he was  setting out to achieve; someone...
A life lesson for you and me from a teenager

A life lesson for you and me from a teenager

How did you approach competition as a teenager? Prior to retiring and having stopped coaching sport as a result of my schedule as an Assistant Head of a large School, every Saturday I would head off to watch as many sports matches as I could – even if I watched a match for five minutes that was okay, as the students could see I was interested. I tried to watch matches of students I taught or informally mentored. A two minute conversation about a match, while a class was settling down for a lesson, could positively affirm or impact at least one life – I know this did happen! However, a memorable moment was watching Caitlyn (not her real name) playing a Netball match.The day before her match I had been having an informal chat with Caitlyn as we were passing one another on the school campus. I had noticed she had been wearing a brace on her hand the previous week and wondered if she was injured. As we parted company she asked me if I was going to be watching the match the next day. I assured her I would be cheering on the sidelines! Caitlyn’s team came close to winning. I know nothing about the rules of Netball, but I can see that it must be such a frustrating game to play when the shooters just can’t get the ball through the hoop consistently. While other mistakes inevitably occur for a variety of reasons, Caitlyn’s team lost the match in the final minutes. I decided simply to focus on watching Caitlyn for a period of time...
The 6 Senses of Resiliency to Inspire your Mentoring Journey

The 6 Senses of Resiliency to Inspire your Mentoring Journey

Can you remember a time, as an adolescent, when you bounced back from adversity? What did you do? Who assisted you? Your answers to those questions will tell you something about your resiliency, a topic I think about a great deal when working with young people. It’s a topic I am currently focusing on as I co-author The Self-Learning Coaching Handbook: for Parents, Teachers and Mentors with Dr Jeannette Vos. The series of books will be available later in the year. Resilience research clearly reveals some key points to all who work with youth, highlighted by resilience expert Bonnie Bernard. These key points are: Most youth ‘make it’; All individuals have the power to transform and change; Teachers and schools have the power to transform lives; It’s how we do what we do that counts; Teachers beliefs in innate capacity start the change process. I remember playing a sport’s match when I was about 17-years old and my team was being hammered. It looked like just a matter of time before we were defeated. I was Captaining the side and had to make some tactical decisions, after consulting with my deputy, which paid off, the team pulled together in an amazing way, the opposition hit the panic button and we ended up winning an exciting match. A memorable victory, one I still read about today when I look for some inner strength and motivation. My one Coach had taught me how important it was to persevere and NEVER to quit. He believed in me and saw the potential that I was not yet seeing. That day taught me that one of...