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...
8 positive life lessons for you from dying children

8 positive life lessons for you from dying children

What do you love most in life? This is the question South African paediatrician, Dr Alastair McAlpine, asked the terminally ill children he was caring for. Living in the 21st Century Digital Age, their answers might surprise you.None of the children wished that they had spent more  time online or watching TV. “Often kids even in very short lives can teach us so much,” Dr McAlpine shared. He looked around at local and global issues and was struck by so much depressing news. “It made me think of these amazing children I deal with who are facing real problems. If they could be positive and upbeat, I felt others should be.” 8 of the positive life lessons these children teach us include: be kind; read more books; spend time with family; crack jokes; go to the beach; hug your dog; tell that special person you love them; and eat ice cream. As I read this article one word came to mind: RELATIONSHIPS.  Relationships with family, people and animals – face to face relationships. That reminded me how important and powerful significant adults are in the lives of young people and most especially in the lives of teenagers as they face all the challenges and confusions life throws at them at a time when their bodies and brains are developing in extraordinary ways. After a six to nine month mentoring relationship with a trained volunteer adult mentor as part of the GR8 Mates school-based youth mentoring program, the importance of a new relationship was echoed in the following thanks from Tony (not his real name) to his mentor at the final...
There is always a solution to teenager cyberbullying

There is always a solution to teenager cyberbullying

How do you work through social media issues with young people? In Australia we had another teenage suicide linked to cyberbullying in recent weeks, although, as people working in the field of mental health have pointed out, there might be many factors leading to a decision by a young person to end their life, even if cyber bullying has contributed to this fateful decision. One suicide is one too many for me. How are we to approach the comments on social media from people trying to impress, trying to shock, sometimes deliberately writing hurtful comments?Not that long ago I decided to stand up for my values and beliefs and challenge a young adult man I knew to think more carefully before he posted some fairly aggressive, cruelly judgmental material. A couple of his friends proceeded to launch aggressive and judgmental attacks on me and, when I questioned one of them, discovered that he had not even read my comment. Then another young woman entered the conversation and decided to make fun of me as well, at which point I pressed the ‘delete’ button and also blocked a ‘friend’. The mistake I made was probably writing something on the post instead of messaging the young man and keeping our conversation off the public platform. I learnt an important social media lesson from that experience. What concerns me with the antisocial social media behaviour of teenagers is that, while their brains are still developing, they might immediately become involved in an emotional outburst, which might well be normal in such circumstances, and that can spiral into all sorts of negative consequences....
15 goal-getting results from mentoring partnerships

15 goal-getting results from mentoring partnerships

How do you feel when you achieve a goal? I feel like celebrating somehow, especially when I have had to stretch myself and move well out of my comfort zone. If we can remember how we became goal getters, we have a story to share with our mentees, many of whom will need plenty of support to wish to embark on a goal getting program. 2018 has arrived and, early in January, I sit down and, over a few days, set my goals for the year. I break these down into monthly goals and am able to stay focused on leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle. I have done this for many years and, even though I am now retired, I still set goals around family, my faith walk, personal development, health, exercise and wellbeing and my interests. More ands more Neuroscience research that I am reading is pointing to the importance of setting goals as an important aspect of adolescent brain development. This all reminded me of some examples of goals achieved by adolescent mentees during a mentoring relationship in programs I have been linked with. These examples might encourage volunteer adult mentors and help them to appreciate that there is such a variety of goals one can encourage in a mentoring relationship, some fairly straightforward. 1. A mentee’s grades in one academic subject improved from 28% to 50%. 2. A mentee worked on lifting weights at a gym, which the mentor used to teach goal setting. They had a great relationship. 3. A mentee obtained a part-time job with the help of a mentor. 4. A mentee...
Surfing through life as a Mentor?!

Surfing through life as a Mentor?!

“How can I help you?” That’s probably the question I ask more than any other when someone approaches me for a chat. It leads to great discussions which are followed by a look at prioritizing which inevitably takes us to goal setting. And, if this involves mentoring an adolescent, I am quick to share the three key points to move them towards a balanced and healthy lifestyle: “How many hours sleep a night are you having?” (Should be 9 hours every night) “How many hours of exercise each week are you having?” (Should be a minimum of 2.5 to 3 hours) “Are you eating a healthy breakfast?” (If not, early academic time will be a waste of energy, as the brain will not be functioning at full throttle!) These are well researched facts now and, while there will always be exceptions to the rule, when mentees are able to tick these three boxes, they will automatically notice the difference in their lives. I was thinking a short while ago, while I was writing my Mentoring Minutes 2 minutes a day Podcasts, of the conversation I had with Rachel (not her real name) when she asked if she could have a chat with me. “How can I help you?” I asked. “I want you to mentor me. I need help with my planning and organization. Last year I lived on five hours sleep a night, I pushed myself so hard to achieve my academic goals and make my parents happy. I achieved them all but I don’t want to live like this anymore. In fact, I’m not going to live...
Drone parents or empowering Mentors for our adolescents?

Drone parents or empowering Mentors for our adolescents?

Thinking again about how different life is today from when I was a child. What can you remember about your childhood? I remember we climbed trees, created our own games indoors and outdoors, rode our bicycles, without helmets, to the local Park where we played on the variety of playground equipment available – Jungle Jims, seesaws, swings, roundabouts – caught tadpoles in the stream running through the Park, all without any adult supervision. We walked or rode to school without adult supervision and caught public transport, even in the evenings, without adult supervision. We jumped into a teacher’s car or another parent’s car if we were going to a sports match without any need of permission slips signed by our parents; we listened to the Top 20 hits of the week on a Sunday night from Radio Lourenco Marques (I was raised in Cape Town); we watched the international sports folk practising and mingled with them after and before matches, with no security guards evident; we listened to the radio, as we did not have Television – Kit Grayson Rides the Range or something like that; Squad Cars; Pick-a-Box, a Quiz Show; Squad Cars, a Detective program; Mark Saxon and Sir Gay Gromuko or something similar …….  yes, those were the days and how different from life today. The rare Computers were massive machines in large office areas with punch cards …. and so I could go on. These thoughts occurred after I read an interesting Blog by Occupational Therapist, Victoria Prooday, The silent tragedy affecting today’s children, which has been read by over 10 million people during the...