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 His leadership status was withdrawn.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...
How you can share messages of HOPE with teenagers

How you can share messages of HOPE with teenagers

Do you remember when you felt overwhelmed as a teenager?  Walled in? Unable to see your way into the future? Frustrated? Angry? Confused? A little lost? Maybe one of those days you just wanted to walk out of the home? Maybe you did walk out! That’s what Wendy (not her real name) did when she was about 15 or 16. This is her true story.I met Wendy, then in her early 20s, when I was running a mentoring program some years ago. Anyone interested in being considered as a volunteer adult mentor, having completed a fairly basic application form, met with me. This was an opportunity for me to see whether or not the person was suitable for moving alongside a confused, vulnerable adolescent for about nine months or longer as a volunteer mentor. It also gave the potential mentor, who would have completed a 21-hour mentor training program by the time we met, to hear more about the program and decide whether or not they really wanted to make this important commitment and investment in the life of a young person. Wendy took me to a large shopping centre and we sat down for a chat. However, after a few minutes Wendy, looking uncomfortable, asked if we could rather go back to her home to talk. While she was sharing some of her story a little later, it became clear to me why she wanted to speak privately. When Wendy was in her early teens her mother died suddenly. Wendy had no father with whom she could form any relationship, as he had departed her life a number...
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,...
6 reasons why mentoring is for you too!

6 reasons why mentoring is for you too!

Have you ever thanked the people who have mentored you? It’s a question I ask when I do mentor training, as there are so many people who have mentored others and they often have no idea how powerful their impact was on someone’s life. What is a mentor? This, too, is an important question to ask, so let’s consider some definitions.“A mentor is defined as a ‘trusted counselor or guide’. Thus mentoring is a relationship by which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally.” (Oregon Mentors) “Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee.” (MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership) “Mentoring is a purposeful conversation that offers a safe, supportive place to tell one’s story, achieve greater clarity, solve a problem and get feedback from a more experienced, wiser colleague, friend or family member.” (Sharing Wisdom; Robert Wicks (Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Victoria, British Columbia) “Mentoring is a lifelong relationship, in which a mentor helps a protégé reach her or his God-given potential.” (Bobb Biehl) “Mentoring is not a matter of skills and behavior; it’s a matter of the heart. The heart of mentoring is to help people to reach their fullest potential in life … It’s a journey that requires great patience, persistence, and perseverance. It also is  a relationship that often endures for a long time – even many years – because when the mentor and the mentored engage in a life-to-life exchange, they learn and benefit from...
Secrets to Inspire you to encourage teenagers to become the best they can be

Secrets to Inspire you to encourage teenagers to become the best they can be

Have you ever felt like quitting on your teenage child or a young person you have been working with? I certainly have, though my passion to encourage teenagers to become the best they can be has led me to try ANYTHING to encourage them to become the best they can be. I hope that Jacky’s true story will serve as an encouragement to you and you might be motivated by some of the secrets I am sharing in this journey I undertook with her.Jacky (not her real name) was a young girl I mentored a few years ago. She had a volatile temper, which students knew and many were the times her peers pushed that anger button to get a reaction.  And, when she reacted, the language was vile, a fairly sure sign of a young girl lacking in self-confidence. Underneath this angry and tough exterior though, I was quick to discover, was a wonderfully caring individual who would make sacrifices for others and expect nothing in return. An example of this was the way she purchased a snack for a peer she did not know well who had left their money at home and was attending an event at the place where Jacky did casual work. Jacky refused point blank to see a Counsellor, was absolutely shocking at her management of time, did not believe in setting goals because she had convinced herself she would never achieve them and was a great procrastinator! I was approached by a colleague and asked if I would have a chat to her, as the situation was becoming serious, her ant-social behaviour...
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...