When working with teens, always be authentic.
[Authenitic— of undisputed origin; genuine.
Whenever I’m asked about my work with teens, I remind people that the key to success with this age group is being authentic. I always say: “Teens can stiff out an inauthentic adult in seconds.” ….but what does being “authentic” really mean?
- Do not be judgmental. Meaning…. just listen to them. Don’t be shocked or surprised by what they say. Sometimes, they will tell you things for the shock value alone to see how you will respond. The key is…..DON’T!
- You don’t always need to lend advice. Just listen to them. As easy as it can be to lend them guidance at this age, hold back sometimes.
- Don’t ask soooo many questions. This will easily annoy or frustrate them.
- Don’t cut them off or redirect the conversation. Let them take the conversation where they want.
- Maintain eye contect and show other visual signs of confirmation (such as, head nodding, smiling, etc.)
- Last, but not least, be present and engaged. Regardless if they are talking about a minor issue from school or a serious struggle with a friend, it’s important to them. And if it’s important to them, then it should be important to you as well.