I kept having forehead-smacking moments: O-o-o-oh, that's probably what that student was thinking. O-o-o-oh, no wonder I was so frustrated when I was in high school.
The book begins with an explanation of the "Adolescent Operating System" and a reminder to be patient with kids whose brains are still developing, who haven't yet learned to handle strong emotions, and who may push away our attempts to help them.
The main reason kids reject our assistance and advice is because of negative experiences in the past. The authors asked groups of adolescents for "a list of adult behaviors that they have encountered that make it less likely they will seek adult support when they have a problem."
The list included:
- giving unwelcome advice;
- not acting interested; and
- not maintaining confidentiality.
Then they asked the kids "What really does help?"
1. Listen to me.
2. Show they care about me.
Of course, that's harder than it sounds when we're already stretched too thin with all of the other demands on our time and energy.
What Works With Teens gives practical, realistic advice on dealing with typical challenges like:
- how to "strike a balance between being an available and helpful adult and empowering teens to take responsibility";
- validating teens' emotions and experiences without necessarily condoning their actions; and
- remaining open to constructive feedback rather than getting defensive.
With permission from New Harbinger Publications, next week I'll post a sample passage about providing clear, consistent boundaries in a way that's kind and respectful to teens.
The Importance of 'Deep Listening' to Young People (guest post)
Mindfulness for Teachers and Teens (interview)
The Mindful Teen (recommended book)
Setting Boundaries with Teens (book excerpt)
Wise Elder Visualization: A Practice for Parents and Teachers