Part of the Problem:
Do you have trouble connecting with or engaging your adolescent students or clients? Many people and programs do. You ask a question and hear crickets in the background. You think someone is doing well only to learn that wasn't the case. They score points on the field but get suspended or fail classes.
Often part of the solution is beginning to identify the problem. ...Hopefully the words below will begin to bring some clarity to one of the most significant problems we face in working effectively with adolescents.
Traditional education and treatment are compartmentalized.
We often treat our adolescents as though we are only interested in one aspect of their lives. We act as though we are only supposed to address education/behavior/health/drugs/etc. in their lives. I am not talking about blurry boundaries, some lines we must not ever cross. It is critical, however, that we understand that the young person in front of us is not just a brain, a body, a peer group, or a spiritual person. They are ALL of those things. When we teach, counsel or coach, we will be MUCH more effective when we are demonstrating care and compassion for the whole person. It's not just a GPA to be raised, it's helping a person to rise. It's not just running the field, it's helping them learn to run their lives. It's not just a problem to be solved, it's a person to be nurtured.
I have heard this said as "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". That is so true. The key, however, is that they need to know we care about them as a human being and not just in one specific area. As I look back over the people who have had the greatest impact on me in my life, they were more than experts on a subject. They were people who care enough about me to care about all of who I was and to help me be my best.
Let's strive to be that for each young person who we have the great fortune of encountering along the way. Let's care for them as a human being full of life, hope, possibility, and potential. The difference in our classes, teams, and services can be phenomenal!