How well are you connected to others?

How well are you connected to others?

How important is connecting with others to you? Can you remember how important this was to you when you were an adolescent? I can remember having friends mostly grouped around the different sports I played at school, so sometimes they were seasonal groups. From those years, I have my closest friend with whom I am still in touch. We connect from time to time via Skype and will happily chat for an hour about our news, how we are pursuing our dreams, working on a new project and so on. We are able to be totally honest with one another and have lots of humorous moments too! Not that long ago I was reminded of how important connection is for young people who are having to deal with peer pressure at different levels each and every day.I was watching school sport one Saturday morning. “I need to give my watch to my mum, can someone come with me?” I overheard a young teenage girl saying. The students were in an Indoor Sports Centre and her mum was sitting less than 100 metres from her, yet she had to have some company when she left her team mates for a couple of minutes. The power of connection! There will be reams and reams of research showing how important adolescents feel it is to connect with one another. My own research over many years suggested that one of the key points about adolescents is that they would like to be cared for and loved. It is the unconditional love that will allow them to move out of their comfort zones, risk...
Introducing you to my mentor I never met!?

Introducing you to my mentor I never met!?

Perhaps you are surprised by the title of this Blog? Well, while sitting in the sun of the deck of our apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee – the joys of retirement! – I was reflecting on all the people who have influenced my life in positive ways. I was thinking of the many people who have been my mentors during different seasons of my life journey and names like Peter, John, Pieter, Dave, Tony, Shelagh, Mike and Chris came to mind. However, I want to share one of the people who continues to have a significant influence on my life, yet is someone I have never met.The film Chariots of Fire rates as one of the best films I have seen and it introduced me to a mentor I shall never meet, Eric Liddell, the ‘Flying Scotsman’. Eric was born in China to Scottish missionary parents, was schooled in London, attended University in Edinburgh and became a duel international sportsman, representing Scotland in Rugby and Athletics. Eric was regarded as the fastest man in the world over 100 metres before the 1924 Paris Summer Olympics, yet, on a point of principle – he would not run on a Sunday because of his strong Christian faith – he was unable to participate in that race at the Olympics. Instead, having come third in the 200 metres final, he also ran the 400 metres final and, not only won the race, but also set a new world record, which would last until 1936 when it was broken at the Berlin Olympics. His strange running style saw him running for the...
Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

Your 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers

If someone asked you what tips you would pass on to them to help them be an encouragement to young people, what would you say? This is a topic I have researched for many, many years and have gathered all that research to produce some short tips to encourage parents and mentors as they journey with young people through adolescence. Indeed, these tips would be relevant for anyone working with young people. So, here are the 10 Hot Tips for effective Parenting and Mentoring of Teenagers. 1. Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen more than you speak. 2. Love unconditionally and NEVER quit! 3. Empathise and genuinely affirm their EFFORTS (so you are not seen to be judging character). 4. Negotiate boundaries and be consistent. 5. Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them. 6. Walk alongside them as they explore their career options, always encouraging them to chase their dreams. 7. Catch them doing good and celebrate! It is so important to keep a sense of humour and have some fun. 8. Journey with them through failure to make this a positive learning experience without trying to enforce your values on them. 9. Support their idealism and let them know you believe in them and are their greatest, non-judgmental Cheerleader! 10. Keep envisioning the people they can become. NEVER let go of that vision. Keep reminding yourself that the young person in front of you is trying to find their way during the most confusing time of their lives, while their brains are still developing and they are so conscious of how they look. Be their rock and...
7 ways you can better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers

7 ways you can better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers

How do you ensure that teenagers grow up to be happy and positive young people? Given that their brains are developing until they are in their mid-20s, we know that there are mood swings, irritable moments, impulsive actions with no or little thought, explosive outbursts, sometimes an inability to focus or follow through on a task, overcome the temptations to use drugs, alcohol and engage in other antisocial behaviours and so on. Well-known author and educator, Sir Kenneth Robinson, makes this point: “How we think about the world around us can be deeply affected by the feelings within us, and how we feel may be critically shaped by our knowledge, perceptions and personal experiences. Our lives are formed by the constant interactions between these two worlds, each affecting how we see and act in the other.” Neuroscientist, Dr Francis Jensen, reminds us that the teenage brain is ‘a puzzle waiting completion’, so what can we do to better understand and encourage today’s Teenagers to become the best they can be? My research over the past 20 years continually reminds me that our young people want to FEEL: cared for (loved unconditionally); valued; that their lives have meaning and purpose. Consider these 7 Ways you can better 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 and often they enjoy sharing their thinking and experiences in groups. We can help them make sense of what appears at times to be much confusion. Teenagers value and appreciate recognition...
You’ll get noticed when you listen to this teenager

You’ll get noticed when you listen to this teenager

Do you ever wonder why a teenager you are trying to communicate with seems to be on another planet? Most of us have probably asked ourselves that question from time to time. As teenagers journey through their adolescent years and their brains are still developing, they, too, are confused and trying to respond to so many questions they are asking themselves, examples of which might include: Who am I? Where am I going? What do others think of me? Well, perhaps, it’s a good time to pause and allow a teenager to share her thoughts with you which may or may not help your relationships with these young people.I encourage young people to become the best they can be, so their goals and tasks are set by themselves. They then don’t have to compare themselves with anyone else and can simply measure how they are doing against those personal developmental goals. It’s a wonderful self-empowering journey. Like the Kite surfer, many of whom develop their skills in the sea close to where I live, it’s all about practise, practise, practise and persevering so that, in the end,, as neuroscience educator Judy Willis, said, “practice makes permanent”, ie, in this case, the skills are embedded in the brain and so, when the Kite surfer is battling the ocean, he or she reacts instinctively to circumstances as they have trained their brain through practise. As a mentor, parent, coach or teacher, whatever your role might be, the one non-negotiable requirement these days is the importance of face to face communication. There are plenty of reasons for this, most especially because of...
If you value teenagers, then read this!

If you value teenagers, then read this!

Do you have teenage children? Do you teach teenagers? Do you work in any way with teenagers? I have been thinking about the power of mentoring, though mostly in relation to students who crossed my path over the years, and wondering what they are doing with their lives today, what ‘might have been’ had they had the opportunity to be mentored when they were 15 or 16 years of age? Unique gifts and talents to be nurtured and encouraged by a non-judgmental Cheerleader.I was reminded of the positive results of an Online Student Performer that one of the early GR8 Mates student participants had completed at the end of their school-based mentoring program. The students had completed this task at the beginning of the mentoring journey and again, six months later, when the program officially concluded, though some 11 years later, some of those adolescents, now adults, are probably still in touch with their mentors from that time, as often lifelong friendships are forged. Research clearly states – and it’s obvious why – that mentoring relationships that last for 12 months or more tend to have more positive outcomes than those lasting less than this time. No-one can argue with that, though I have learnt over the years that, when a volunteer adult mentor and a teenage mentee connect for a season, even if that season is only 6 months in a school-based mentoring relationship, so much can be achieved. In addition to comments from the GR8 Mates Mentees and mentors, what emerged from a deeper analysis of the Online Student Performer were the following key points: when mentors...