12 points every adult working with youth can remember

12 points every adult working with youth can remember

How often, when you are chatting to teenagers and trying to understand them do you reflect on your adolescent journey? Can you remember any high and low points of your teenage years? Can you remember the significant people who impacted you either positively or negatively? Sometimes it helps our relationships with youth when we show empathy and try harder to understand how they might be feeling to help us understand why a seemingly crazy or irresponsible decision was made. We know that the brain is developing in crucial ways until the mid-twenties. All the developing brain research should assist our relationship building skills with youth. Psychologist David Walsh shared some thoughts about the key challenges facing adolescents and I have added another. 12 points every adult working with youth can remember As we move alongside youth, encourage them to become happy and positive people – despite major mood swings, which is normal – and work hard to speak to the potential you can see in them and which they often cannot see.  That is where your calm, reassuring presence is genuinely appreciated even if they do not communicate this to you – yet! Adolescents have to: figure out how to get sufficient sleep – a minimum of nine hours every night is highly recommended; handle sexually maturing bodies that give rise to strong urges which they can learn how to manage; try and figure out and manage volatile and powerful emotions; fit into a complex social network; deal with immense peer pressure – both positive and negative; deal with wildly changing moods; decide how they are going to respond...
How would you describe your IDEAL teacher?

How would you describe your IDEAL teacher?

Can you think of a teacher who had a positive impact on your life? Have you ever thought what your ideal teacher would be like? I have been thinking about this topic in recent days while writing a new book: The Barnabas Prayer – Becoming an encourager in your community. I wrote the first draft of this book during our COVID-19 lockdown, sent it to my publisher and, a couple of weeks later, was surprised to receive the offer of a publishing contract. Surprised? Well, who would have thought I would be offered three publishing contracts within twelve months? I am embraced in this big bubble called ‘humility’. What, you might justifiably ask, has this to do with my ideal teacher? Well, it has made me appreciate even more that most adults are parents, or teachers, or coaches, or mentors – in reality, a combination of these. In other words, whether we like it or not, we will either positively or negatively impact the young people with whom we interact. Eight positive signs of my ideal teacher They affirm life and further its potential, and always share messages of hope. They enter into real discussions with their students because, at heart, they are genuine and emotionally available. They set clear boundaries – negotiated with older students – for themselves and others. They embody values and virtues that others merely admire. They walk the talk. They always make sure their students feel safe and secure in their company. They look to identify their students’ strengths, name them and encourage these young people to use these strengths in positive ways to...
What is the most important life lesson you learnt from COVID-19?

What is the most important life lesson you learnt from COVID-19?

What is the most important life lesson you learnt from COVID-19? Will you do things differently now? This might be a hard question to answer. Much will depend on your experiences to date. Lost a loved one during this time? Lost a job or business? School closed down for a while? Spent time in a lock down and isolation situation? Could not complete a course you wanted to finish off? Unable to travel, so lost an opportunity to pursue a dream or possible job opportunity? As I have followed the media, had to experience lock down and was unable to see my other family members, including my grandchildren, the most important lesson I have been reminded of again and again is how important relationships are – face to face relationships. And it has been interesting to listen to young people. All the majority of our youth wanted was to get back to school to be with their friends. How will the global community emerging from COVID-19 respond to this reality? More of the same? Seek to become a more compassionate, caring community? I am already reading many articles about online learning gaining momentum, shorter working weeks or more people working from home and so on. Yet, we have a chance to reimagine what our global community could be like. I have written elsewhere how I observed a Vertical Tutoring System transform a school and the time is surely right for schools to explore this system. It transforms school cultures in so many positive ways and there is a significant focus on how to build meaningful relationships. However, I digress....
10 top motivators for employers of young adults

10 top motivators for employers of young adults

Can you remember the people who influenced you the most when you joined the work force? How has the work place today differed from when you entered it for the first time? How would you motivate and encourage a young adult joining your team in their first career move? These are interesting questions to consider. They are questions I have been reflecting upon as I think about how COVID-19 will impact economic development in the months ahead. Neuroscience research continually reminds us that the brains of youth are only fully developed when they are in their mid-twenties. This highlights how important it is for empathetic employers to guide and navigate new young employees entering the work force for the first time. Here is what I learned.Research I spent some time researching employer and employee relationships, exploring what social researchers say and reading general articles in which employers share their experiences working with youth. I saw over the years how the advent of technology seemed to change the mindset of young employees. In some cases I saw youth unafraid to be creative and innovative. In other situations I observed young people unable to empathize with others, severely lacking teamwork and often with questionable management of time skills. I saw others who took life so seriously, were unable to laugh at themselves, and whose perfectionist attitude led to heightened stress levels. And, I observed others who lacked a healthy and balanced lifestyle which had a negative effect on their output. 10 top motivators  Here are ten of the top motivators employers can reflect on as they employ today’s youth, always remembering...
Your teenager’s 10 life lessons to bounce back from COVID-19

Your teenager’s 10 life lessons to bounce back from COVID-19

When you were a teenager how did you bounce back from adversity? What form did this adversity take – rejection by friends? A family bereavement? Challenging family circumstances? Living in a high-risk environment? Failing an exam? Omitted from a team? The COVID-19 lockdown has helped me to focus on my new mentoring book due out later in the year with over 1000 tips, strategies and discussion topics to encourage anyone working with young people. I have had plenty of time to reflect on my own teenage years and how I dealt with cancer, the loss of my mother, changing family circumstances, peer relationships and all the challenges every teenager faces as they seek meaning and purpose in their lives. And, each time I reflect, I am drawn back to ten key life lessons which I have shared with hundreds of young people, especially those I have mentored. In almost every case I have observed extraordinary positive life journeys being developed before my eyes, as these young people embraced most, if not all the life lessons over a period of time. A unique time No teenager is likely to have experienced anything like COVID-19 in their lifetime, an event that will change how our global community thinks and operates. Already we are told that the creative, innovative and entrepreneurial spirit will be rewarded in the coming months and years as the global economy recovers from this pandemic. We have so many wonderfully creative young people whose creativity is often squashed by narrow-thinking, dull, exam driven education systems. Time to free them up and encourage them to soar! Bounce back Well-known...
Your 13 Key Positive  Qualities through COVID -19

Your 13 Key Positive Qualities through COVID -19

Can you remember the relationships you had when you were an adolescent? Did you belong to a small clique or did you have a wide circle of friends? Do you think more deeply about what meaningful relationships are all about? Will you place your relationships at the front and center of your journey through the COVID -19 pandemic? We are living in ‘unprecedented times’. I hear this phrase every day at the moment, We move into a time of lock down. It will be tough, but I am fortunate, as I can still do my beautiful daily beach walk, and am now forced to finish my new mentoring book to meet the publisher’s end of April deadline. I won’t be able to link up with my daughter and her family and the grandchildren to enjoy lots of laughs. And, while writing this book – converting my 260 free podcasts into 312 daily messages – I have reflected on all the people who have impacted my life through expressing the spirit of mentoring. I have written tributes to some of these people in the new book. As I played plenty of sport in my youth, I tended to hang out with some of my team members in the different teams in which I participated, which led to a wider circle of superficial friendships, though I had one or two closer friends who remained friends for many years. My experiences also reminded me of a conversation I had with 16-year-old Gabby who was working through relationship issues. Gabby was keen to do well at school and was genuinely striving to fulfill...
How you can inspire the rebellious teenager – a true story

How you can inspire the rebellious teenager – a true story

Have you ever felt like quitting on your teenage child or a young person you have been working with? Do you ever feel like you are hitting your head against a brick wall? I certainly have had these thoughts, though my passion to encourage teenagers to reach their potential has led me to try ANYTHING to encourage them to make some positive choices. I hope that Emma’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.Seventeen-year-old Emma was a young girl I mentored a few years ago. She had a volatile temper, which students knew. There were many 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 who lacked 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 Emma did casual work. Not interested in counselling Emma refused point blank to see a counselor, was shocking at her management of time, a great procrastinator, and did not believe in setting goals because she had convinced herself she would never achieve any of them. I was approached by a colleague and asked if I would have a...
How you can inspire teenagers – a true story

How you can inspire teenagers – a true story

Can you remember times during your adolescent years when life seemed to be particularly hard; you jumped one hurdle and then something else occurred and knocked you down; up you got again and something else happened? Small rocks to stumble over, bigger rocks to obstruct your pathway.  How did you respond? Thinking about this led me to some work I did a while ago when I looked at how youth mentoring programs helped young people coming from a high risk environment. I created a check-list, if you like, that would be invaluable to anyone mentoring such a young person. As I thought some more, I was reminded of the years I spent informally mentoring Nick, a teenager from a high risk, volatile environment in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid. I learnt so much about life from many interactions with Nick – an amazing young man who inspired me through the way he overcame adversity. Nick arrived at the School where I was teaching at the time and was placed in the boarding house of which I was the housemaster. Nick’s mother was a domestic servant and he was, in his own words: “.. a young man from the townships who could not even speak English. I was scared but excited. I had to prove myself. Here were the white boys who had privileged positions all their lives. Their primary education was preparing them to be the bosses, whilst mine was to serve their interests. Here I had to compete with them on the same footing. I can tell you it was not easy.” 10 proven tips to...
How to encourage youth to reach their potential – a true story of transformation

How to encourage youth to reach their potential – a true story of transformation

How many times, as a teenager, did you feel alone and battling the world? I remember times when I was alone and trying to puzzle what life was all about. I would be asking questions like: Why me? Why can’t I be like that person? Why? Why? Why? Sue (16) was battling with a serious personal issue. She was a boarder at the school. One afternoon she popped in to see me in my office. Students knew that, if my door was open, they could feel free to come in and chat. I was the school principal at the time. Sue started talking in fairly general ways about school, life, her favorite subjects, things she enjoyed doing and so on. I listened with interest. After a while she shared that she was not looking forward to returning home during the school holidays. Her father was disabled as a result of a work accident. He had been left crippled and was confined to a wheelchair. Sue said that he was abusive towards her and had a violent temper. From the way she talked, the abuse was verbal and nothing else – still, tough for a teenager, whose brain is still developing and prone to emotional outbursts, to contend with. We needed to think through possibilities. Explore options and be non-judgmental We explored the different options open to Sue. I sowed some seeds to encourage her to think outside of her comfort zone. Sue reflected and responded. One idea was for Sue to apply for a United World College Scholarship. This was a Scholarship that would cover her education and boarding...

62. More WOW! Moments as third program closes

Today will long remain as one of the most memorable days I have had being involved in a youth mentoring program. Sam (not her real name) came back! Sam had basically dropped out of school about seven weeks ago and had moved in with her boyfriend, who was a few years older than her, partly because she was having difficult family issues. Her mentor and I were trying to work out strategies to reach her, but were experiencing problems in this regard. Last week I was told Sam had returned to school to write her exams. Today Sam appeared for the Celebration event and looked positively radiant! Each of the mentors and students shared something about the GR8 MATES program they had enjoyed. Sam told us that she had thought she would not be allowed back to school. However, she had approached the acting Principal and had a discussion with him. Sam had decided that she not only wanted to return to school to write her Public Exams next week, but she wanted to stay on and complete her schooling! Her mentor shed a few tears and I think everyone in the room was moved, as Sam has had a tough time. I spoke to Sam after the function and let her know how proud of her I was, told her that she had made some courageous decisions in recent weeks and also assured her that never again would she have to feel alone. One of her issues was that she didn’t feel she had anyone to talk to, but now she realises how important her mentor is in...