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...
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...
Hot Tips for effectively guiding young people

Hot Tips for effectively guiding young people

We have to continually remind ourselves that researchers suggest that young people want to feel cared for (loved) valued that their lives have meaning and purpose 7 ways to understand and encourage Today’s adolescents Most of today’s children learn best by doing things, reflecting on the experience and learning lessons from the activity which they can then apply to their daily lives. As adults we can help them make sense of what appears to them at times to be much confusion. Children value and appreciate recognition for their efforts eg, a special meal, a positive text message, a congratulatory card, something special in their lunch packs, a surprise of some sort which does not have to cost a great deal of money – preferably none at all! Children enjoy hearing true stories which they can relate to, which might motivate them, inspire them, reassure them etc. Children value learning from older people they respect who are genuine and who walk the talk. Such people create an emotionally safe environment in which they also feel secure. Children enjoy diversity and change – how can we, as mentors, parents and coaches, encourage them at such times? Children value consensus and collaboration, two key words in their world. Children value clear and concise communication. 10 Hot Tips for Effective Mentoring, Parenting and Coaching adolescents Listen! Listen! Listen! Love unconditionally and never quit. Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them. Walk alongside them as they explore career options, always encouraging them to go after their dreams. Empathise and affirm. Negotiate boundaries and be consistent. Catch them doing good and...