How To Talk With Youth
When your youth FINALLY start warming up to you, how you respond will either encourage or discourage them from further disclosure. I'm sure you know some of these barriers to communication but let's go through some of them.
Ordering - Telling your youth what she or he should do. For example, "Stop complaining that your teacher gave you a failing grade. Go into school tomorrow and talk to her about it."
Threatening - Telling your youth to do something, "or else . . ." - suggesting there's only one acceptable course of action. For example, "If you don't take your studies more seriously, we're not going to go out and have fun anymore." Preaching - Telling your youth how to act or behave - usually has a moralistic, 'this is the right thing to do' tone. For example, "You shouldn't talk about other people like that."
Avoiding - Trying to avoid problems or uncomfortable situations in the hope that they may go away on their own. For example, "Oh, let's not talk about that. It's so depressing! Let's try to find something happy to think about."
Pacifying - Trying to make your youth feel better without really addressing the problem. For example: if your youth says, "I feel bad because I was really mean to my little sister!" You reply, "Oh, don't worry about it, I did the same thing many times." Even though you may be sincere, you haven't helped your youth resolve the issue.
Lecturing - Giving your youth unsolicited advise. For example, "If you want to get ahead in life you must really go to college. You should really work harder in school so that you can get into college."
In other words, don't ever talk down to them or be condescending or act like a know-it-all. Youth have more than enough intimidating authority figures to deal with already; they don't need you to be yet another one. Also, youth in general know the difference between right and wrong and know what the right course of action should be without you having to tell them. So, learn to unclench a little, don't be so uptight, make light of serious situations (where appropriate) and have a little fun. In other words, be loving, loose and loony!
While saying that, youth don't need you to be "one of them" either, the trap many of us (and parents) fall into. We attempt to dress like them, use their language, get into the same fads they're into. We think that that helps us to bond more with our youth. Well, it does in a way. We develop the friendship element and the youth want to hang out with us more, we get into the "in" crowd. Two things can happen. One, when you get to talking about more serious issues, they will tend to either not take you seriously or the other extreme, avoid the scary youth leader who "mutates" into this other authority figure whenever something serious is discussed. And two, you end up in a clique and the youth who really need you, the outcasts, the "not in-crowd" youth feel more alienated from you. Here's the thing, you don't need to look like and be like your youth to identify with them. You need to be a role model. That means being your own person with your own identity, holding to a high standard of integrity and having a clear purpose. That is what makes a strong youth leader, one with a magnetism that attracts youth. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying you need to be charismatic and loud and extroverted. But you do need to have identity, integrity, and purpose.
Learn to ask the right questions. Ask open-ended questions instead of close-ended ones. Instead of saying, "How was school?" Ask, "How do you feel about school?" Instead of, "Are you good at sports?" Ask, "I wasn't good at most sports when I was in school, but I did like soccer. How about you?" Never underestimate the power of the question, "What do you think?" Especially when you youth come to you for advice, they aren't really looking for a solution; they're looking for approval on an already decided course of action. When you're too quick to give advice, youth are quick to shift the responsibility of their choices over to you. "You told me it was ok! Now look what happened…" Sound familiar?
Remember that the activities you do together can become a source of conversation. Whether you are playing soccer together or enjoying a snack after seeing a movie, having a conversation about the activity itself can help your youth become more comfortable talking to you. These conversations can lead to more personal discussions later. Remember that you can always bring up memories of activities you have participated in with them to keep the conversation going.
There will come a time when in the stage of your relationship with your youth where they feel comfortable enough to open up to you about personal matters. When that happens, be supportive (this is, of course, cause for celebration). If you respond by lecturing or expressing disapproval, he or she is very likely to avoid mentioning personal matters in the future. Instead of seeking support and help from you, your youth might start to avoid conversations with you about problems and hiding school or family difficulties from you or worse, turn to the wrong people for support.
To demonstrate that you are supportive and nonjudgmental, you can:
· Respond in ways that show you see your youth's side of things.
· Reassure your youth that you will be there for him or her.
· If you give advice, give it sparingly and be sure it is focused on identifying solutions.
· If at times you feel concerned or disappointed, make sure it is covered with reassurance and acceptance.
· Sound like a friend, not like a parent.
Key Leaning Points:
· Be loose, loving and, loony!
· You don't need to be charismatic and loud and extroverted; you need to have identity, integrity, and purpose.
· Sound like a friend, not like a parent.
Related Tags: mentoring, teenagers, teens, youth, youth resources, youth leadership, youth program development
Joshua has more than 10 years of experience working with youths and currently works for PromiseWorks as their Head of Mentorship and co-created an online resource site, http://www.YouthDevelopmentResources.com. He has a unique perspective from that of a young person who is both a protégé in a mentoring relationship and also responsible for promoting mentoring for PromiseWorks. His primary passion in life is to create awareness about mentoring within Singapore, develop mentorship programs including content development, working with mentors as volunteers, and ensuring that PromiseWorks's mentoring program remains relevant to youth in Singapore. Realizing he was spending more time searching for or developing effective youth resources than he was spending time with the youth, he and his mentor Ken Sapp co-created Youth Development Resources, http://www.YouthDevelopmentResources.com to cater to this need.Your Article Search Directory : Find in Articles
Recent articles in this category:
- How Hypnotherapy Can be Used on Children
Today Hypnosis can be termed as a branch of medicine which is quite unique, whereas in the past this
- Confidence Workshops For Children
Every parent wants their children to be confident, happy, highly motivated and enthusiastic in order
- Inspiring Children Using NLP
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is one of the most successful therapies in psychology today. Init
- Writing Term Papers
Students often tend to put off a written assignment, considering it to be a chore too formidable to
- Naming In Term Paper
Give a descriptive name to each of your concept in the paper. Adhere using terms like "our approach"
- Introduction Section of a Research Paper
Your introductions should not exceed more than two pages (typed, double spaced). See again the examp
- Getting a Feedback of Your Term Paper is Important!
Get the feedback of your work! Finish your paper, having written it well in advance, so that you hav
- The 1950's - Was Life Better?
Iconic TV shows like I Love Lucy, Dennis the Menace and My Three Sons seem to indicate that the 1950
- Online Classroom Systems Makes Home Schooling Even More Attractive
In the past it went without saying that you would send your kids to public schools. With public scho
- 8 Helpful Tips For Surviving Military Basic Training
Getting through military basic training takes a lot perseverance. During this training it is best to
Most viewed articles in this category:
- Culinary Cooking Schools and What They Teach
Culinary cooking schools prepare you for a job in the culinary industry by providing you with the kn
- How To Learn Spanish Quickly Without Moving To Spain
Learning Spanish is a popular pastime, as well as a serious goal for many individuals. Whether it's
- How To Improve Your Life With An Accredited Online College Degree
With the information super highway raring full steam ahead, quality accredited online college degree
- Online Bachelor Degree Programs Go Mainstream
The Internet has seen an explosion in online bachelor degree programs in the last five to ten years
- Online Degree Program Just A Click Away
You want to go shopping, but your car is low on gas. You want to know your account balance, but do n
- Online Paralegal Degree Will Open Doors
An online paralegal degree may offer the possibility of improving your chances in the legal professi
- What West Point Military School Looks For In A Candidate
West Point is looking for well rounded young men and women who are good students, good athletes, and
- The Importance of Effective Accounting Programs
In the past, small businesses like mom and pop stores were not required to maintain any sort of acco
- California Schools Educators Retirement System And Lionstone Group Create Investment Fund
The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CSTRS) is the second largest public pension fund i
- A Taste of China - Seattle Schools New Guest Teacher Shares Language and Culture of Her Native Hom
The Seattle schools have a new "guest" teacher. Zhu Dan arrived in the Seattle schools in January