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...
15 proven signs of mentally strong teenagers you can nurture

15 proven signs of mentally strong teenagers you can nurture

How much support did you have around you when you were a teenager? What did that scaffolding look like, feel like and sound like? While working in my home office recently, 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. As these meaningful relationships are developed and the significant adult takes on an encouraging and nurturing role, here are 15 proven signs of mentally strong teenagers to look out for. Youth: Know the importance of feeling lovable, capable and competent and the power of positive peer pressure. Know how to positively manage their time and remain active and involved,...
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...
Choose these 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be

Choose these 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be

Have you ever felt that your life had no purpose? Maybe you were drifting? Especially when you were an adolescent? Jack, a talented sportsman, Sarah, revealing signs of antisocial behaviour, Mike, disengaging from school, Kelly, feeling overwhelmed with life’s challenges and Anne, facing the real prospect of failing, were young people I worked with over a period of time, encouraging them to become the best they can be. Although these are not their real names, each one of them made significant choices and now some years later, to the best of my knowledge, they are all achieving great things, because each of them followed the overwhelming majority of the 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be.The 10 Habits were developed over many years of coaching and mentoring young people. When a young person feels unconditionally cared for, that their opinions are listened to and valued and they begin to start seeing some meaning and purpose in their lives, they are well on the way to becoming the best they can be. These 10 Habits to Become the Best You can Be will provide young people with important choices. When they have a significant adult walking alongside them – a parent, teacher, coach, volunteer adult mentor – as they choose their future pathway, more often than not you will witness significant, positive developments occurring, as well as the emergence of a more resilient person able to bounce back in challenging times. 1. Surround myself with positive friends and be a positive person of influence, becoming a great listener, respecting the viewpoints of others and a team player. 2....
12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers

12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers

Have you ever feared the unknown future? It seems as though this is an issue that many of today’s young people are grappling with. What jobs will still be around when I finish school? What jobs will there be available to me when I graduate from University? How will robotics and Artificial Intelligence impact my career prospects? These are all legitimate questions and our young people need to be encouraged and supported as they journey through adolescence to become the best people they can be, so let’s consider 12 qualities you can nurture to develop resilient teenagers.Lou Thompson, who has worked extensively in New Zealand and Australia in the areas of education psychology, behavior management and Special Needs, has written books on developing self-esteem in young people, as well as mentoring adolescents. The following 12 points include some of the ideas Lou has shared over the years to help anyone working with young people develop their resiliency and a healthy self-esteem: React calmly and constructively to mistakes, errors and disappointments; Overcome setbacks and adversities; Display confidence in their interpersonal relationships – their ability to make friends and maintain friendships; Have greater belief in their ability to achieve their goals; Set themselves realistic goals; Persevere at striving for their goals in both the good and the bad times; Are prepared to take ‘acceptable risks’ ie, engage in tasks they haven’t attempted before; tackle old tasks in novel ways; engage in tasks that there is a good chance they might fail at; Are more likely to actualize or use the top 10% of their performance potential; Are less likely to be...
A tribute to my Mentor

A tribute to my Mentor

Have you personally thanked your mentor or mentors for the encouragement and support they gave you, for investing time in your life? That’s the question I ask at the end of an activity when I train volunteer adult mentors before they embark on the unknown mentoring journey with a teenager. It’s a question that led me to contact Dave many years ago to thank him for being the wise guide on the side, my mentor, during some of the most formative years of my life. His reaction surprised me.Let me explain. Dave was a Cricket Coach of mine for a while and then taught me History for the final two years of my school career, during which time my sporting interests took priority over my academic endeavors. I was getting away with the minimum amount of work and hoping to get by. At some point early in my final year, Dave walked past me one day at school and simply said, “Robin, if you don’t do some work, you’ll fail.” I was a Student Leader at the time, expected to be a role model to the younger students. I smiled, felt embarrassed and rather sheepishly responded, “Yes, sir.” That one sentence spoken into my life by someone I respected, and was also a little afraid of, became a turning point in my academic journey. Not only did I set out to prove Dave wrong, but I had also heard his message loud and clear and knuckled down to some serious work, developing more effective planning and organisation, as well as management of my time. I passed at the end...