Do you have students or teens at home who think they know more than you do? I am sure that anyone who teaches or has a child in grade 7 or higher is saying, “Yes!!”
For the first 11 years in a child’s life, children believe adults know everything. Then all of a sudden, those children go to middle school and suddenly, they believe those same adults don’t know anything at all!! But that’s typical… par for the course of life. They question authority. They make their own decisions. That’s how they learn.
When we tell our teens what to do, what not to do and how to act, very often kids will dismiss our advice. I think there are a couple reasons for this:
• We tell teens we understand them. After all, we were teens once… (“When I was your age”) Teens know 2012 is much different from the 80’s. In their eyes, you don’t understand what it is like to grow up in 2012.
• The things we tell teens are not “specific enough.” For example, “be careful” doesn’t tell them the exact behaviors you don’t want them to partake in.
• Teens feel adults “talk down” to them. As soon as a teen gets that feeling, they tune out. They block out what the adult is saying, even if they believe it to be true!
My goal in today’s blog is to share with you my experience in HOW to communicate with a teen who thinks they know everything!
So how do I know this works? Where did I get the experience to communicate with teens so that they listen? For the last 15 years, I have worked/volunteered in youth ministry with high school and college students. I have been able to create extremely successful programs. This experience has given me the opportunity to become proficient in:
• Understanding how to motivate teens to attend my programs in the first place! Unlike school, this is not an activity they are required to attend. If they don’t come, I can’t teach them.
• How to get teens to partake in mission and service work for others when they receive nothing in return.
• How to use someone else’s experiences by presenting stories that help guide teens in how to make decisions and live their lives.
• How to be a confidant for them when they need to talk.
• Really listening to their thoughts. Mouth closed, ears open. Acknowledging their feelings.
• Making myself available when they need advice. Not telling them what they should do but showing them how to walk through possible ways to handle a “sticky” situation.
When working with teens in my professional or personal life, my goal is to teach teens the “tools” needed in order to become a responsible adult.
But that does not mean I protect them from every mistake. Mistakes are crucial to learning. Mistakes allow each individual to adjust his or her thinking and actions to handle future situations. Like anything people try to become good at, you need practice, practice, practice.
But there is one mistake we cannot allow our children to make! This is the kind of mistake where the consequences are irreversible. Some mistakes can affect the rest of their lives.
Please take a minute to read this article about a very talented young man. This young man was a senior at a very exclusive private high school. But he made a mistake. Read how his actions resulted in consequences that kept him from reaching his dreams.
You can see from this article that the coach says he warned his team about consequences of inappropriate behavior on social media. Then how did this happen?
In my experience, we can give our students and teens the “tools” to make the right decisions when it applies to online behavior. I have provided a list of discussion questions for you to use with your students. This is an example of 21st Century teaching we do at Generation Text Online.
Please use this comment section to share about the conversations you had with your teens.
Discussion Questions to use with your teens:
What do you think of this story?
Do you think it is fair what happened to Yuri? Why or why not?
What did he tweet? What are the exact things he tweeted that got him expelled? (This is a good homework assignment.)
How will these tweets affect his life?
Name the exact consequences for him?
• His life dreams?
• Where will he finish high school?
• What about his friends at Don Bosco?
• What about the prom?
• What about his 10 year high school reunion?
• For his parents?
• Do you think his parents are embarrassed?
• Will he still receive a football scholarship?
• For his high school? What does this mean for the reputation of Don Bosco?
Do you think he thought he would be expelled for his tweets?
Do you think that he thought his tweets would cause some colleges to stop recruiting him?
Why did none of his friends warn him that this could get him expelled?
What would or could you have done if Yuri was your friend?
Let’s get a closer look at the article:
1. Don Bosco coach Greg Toal said, “There is no question Don Bosco had to do what it had to do.”
a. Why did Don Bosco have to do it?
2. Toal said he had cautioned his players multiple times about their use of social media and that there would be consequences.
a. Do you think the players really understood what he meant?
3. Several reports indicated Michigan has stopped recruiting him as a result of his tweets.
a. What do you think about Michigan?
4. “Coaches monitor Facebook and Twitter,” said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director for 247Sports.com. “That’s all part of the evaluation process. You have 85 scholarships a year, 25 that you can keep in your program. You can’t make too many mistakes or you won’t have a job."
a. Did you know college coaches do this? Do you know that college admissions pay close attention to these things?
5. “Absolutely coaches pay attention to these types of things. You have to kind of crawl inside a player’s head and see how he reacts inside your program.”
a. Do you think that your online behavior is a good example of who you are as a person?
6. "Aside from visiting high schools and talking to people on the ground, social media is the next best personality assessment for many schools."
a. What do you think about this statement? Is it a good personality assessment?
-- Jill Brown