12 ways you can be the best parent and mentor

12 ways you can be the best parent and mentor

Have you ever feared the unknown future? Have you ever been through a really tough and challenging situation? A relationship breakdown? Failed an important test or exam? A family crisis? A time you felt you were being unfairly treated? A financial loss? Just missing out on a dream goal? The recipient of an unfair decision? Bullying of any sort? It seems as though these are some of the issues that many of today’s young people are grappling with. They are seeking meaning and purpose for their lives, want to feel cared for and valued and are struggling with other questions like: What jobs will still be around when I finish school? What jobs will there be available to me when I graduate from University or Tertiary Study? 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 fulfil their potential, 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 youth. 12 qualities to nurture resilient teenagers 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 and which I have taken the liberty to expand upon in places. On further reflection, most of these points could be adapted and applied to anyone...
30 practical tips for the BEST life!

30 practical tips for the BEST life!

What advice were you given about striving to have the best life when you were a teenager? Who had the most influence on you with their thoughts? What have you remembered? What 5 tips would you share with a teenager? I have been spending time reflecting on the interactions I have been having with a variety of people in recent months. Thoughts and ideas spring to mind. As adolescents journey to adulthood and their brains are still developing, here are 30 tips which will assist them to become the best they can be – come to think of it, they should probably be called 30 Tips for the Best Life, as they can probably be adapted to the lives of adults as well. 30 Tips for the BEST life There will be many more tips than these, so regard this list as a start. Attitude – never ever forget that you choose your attitude and how you respond to all that life throws at you. Live in hope and work hard at taking a positive, constructive attitude into everything you do and into all your meaningful relationships. Ask – never stop asking questions no matter how trivial you might think they are. When others share their stories with you, you will gain knowledge which could significantly impact your life decisions. Apologise – no-one is perfect. When you make a mistake, say the wrong thing, forget to do something you promised to do … whatever it might be, front up and be genuinely sorry. Celebrate – celebrate the small and large victories; the times you achieve a relatively simple goal...
Why you should never quit on a teenager – Billy’s story

Why you should never quit on a teenager – Billy’s story

Have you ever wanted to give up mentoring a teenager? Or just felt you were getting nowhere? Or felt totally frustrated about being a mentor? Maybe a combination of all these thoughts and more? This relationship seemed tougher than climbing the highest mountain? “I’m  ….. uh ….. in trouble again!” That unmistakably negative 15 year old voice in my ear as I drove across the Auckland Harbor Bridge to my North Shore home. Monday evening. Could the day really get any worse?  I had lost two potentially major business deals and now Billy. “What’s the trouble, Billy?” I asked, desperately trying to remember some mentor training tips. Disapprove of the behaviour, but love the child. “It’s that peach-head Mr Squires. Says I cheated in the Maths test, but I didn’t, Tony, I swear …….” “I believe you, Billy.” “No-one else does!” A hint of anxiety in his voice. A short silence. “My dad’s going to murder me when he hears I’m internally suspended.” I pictured a terrified Billy, shoulders drooped, looking up to his dad, a brute of a man, owner of a building construction company,  hesitatingly breaking this news. Would this be the last straw in an already fragile relationship? “Where are you, Billy?” “The Mall.” “Okay, meet me at the Food Court in 15 minutes.” “What’s the point? This whole program sucks. My friends were right …… I’ll always be a loser! Stuff school!” “Hey, Billy, meet me …….. please?!” Did he detect my concern or the feeling of irritability, the result of a tough day in the office? Both probably. Billy didn’t miss much. “Uh …...
How can we develop more resilient teenagers in this fast-paced world?

How can we develop more resilient teenagers in this fast-paced world?

What can you remember about your childhood? What were the fun activities you were involved in? How did you keep yourself occupied? Who were your friends? Any special friends? What made these friendships so special? 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 gyms, seesaws, swings, roundabouts – and 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) on a transistor radio; we watched the international sports teams practising and mingled with them before and after 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 was  daily special at about 5.00 pm; Pick-a-Box, a Quiz Show; Squad Cars, a Detective program; Mark Saxon 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...
Will this teenager’s plea for understanding touch your life?

Will this teenager’s plea for understanding touch your life?

Do you ever wonder why a teenager you are trying to communicate with seems to be on another planet? Or, seems to have too many mood swings for you to know how to cope with? Or, seems highly motivated one day and then lacking purpose and direction the next? Or, lacks self-belief and tries to cover this up in different ways? Or, seems to have ambitions, yet lacks the determination and perseverance to achieve these goals, maybe even dreams? Most of us have probably asked ourselves many of these questions from time to time. Sometimes it is helpful to pause and think back to our own teenage years and how we were responding to all the challenges in those days. As teenagers journey through their adolescent years and their brains are still developing, they, too, are confused and trying to respond to the many questions they are asking themselves, examples of which might include: Who am I? Where am I going? What do others think of me? Why does no-one seem to be listening to me? Who can I trust? Who are my friends? Well, perhaps, it’s a good time to pause and allow a teenager to share her thoughts which may or may not help your relationships with these young people. Strive to reach your potential I encourage young people to work hard to reach their potential. This requires them to set their personal goals which we discuss to ensure that they are achievable, realistic, measurable and specific. This means that they no longer have to compare themselves with anyone else, which many are doing, and can simply...
And you think your child might be addicted to the Internet?

And you think your child might be addicted to the Internet?

“If they fail, we fail together, so it’s our problem not their problem and one we can solve together – children should not feel left alone with failure?” (Jennifer Fox Eades) Can you remember, as an adolescent, how you dealt with self-doubt or friendship issues? What did you do to feel you belonged? Or, did you never feel you belonged to a peer group? Why was that? Were you able to turn to anyone you trusted to guide you through that challenging time? How did things work out? I remember building a wall around myself for a while, not wanting to communicate, except at a superficial level, with my peers, even my family, faking illness because I didn’t want to go to school, trying unsuccessfully to be ‘cool’ so I could join a peer group and have that important sense of belonging that all adolescents crave, occasionally wishing I was someone else and not liking myself. There was no internet in those days. I wonder how I would have responded if I could have done some browsing? When psychologists and neuroscientists describe the adolescent years as confusing, I can easily identify with that word from my own adolescent experiences and, of course, having been a teacher for so many years and mentored hundreds and hundreds of adolescents in that place of confusion, observing the highs and lows of their journeys through adolescence to adulthood, I probably have many stories to share. Brittany’s story 16-year old Brittany (not her real name) shared with me issues she was having with her best friend. Brittany was confused and also said she was finding all the...