Communication is key when it comes to empowering youth. If you don’t have the best communication skills you will find it difficult to get along with teens. They can be difficult to communicate with and it may be necessary for you to learn to simply ask questions and just listen to them; rather than you telling them what they need to do. Youth do not like being told what to do; and proper communication skills can really teach them to come up with the solutions to their own problems.
2: Be open-minded
I’m sure most of us can relate to having parents that didn’t agree with the music we chose to listen to; or the friends we chose to hang out with. How did that make you feel? By being open-minded and receptive to new ideas we are more likely to be in touch with the youth in our life and they will be more likely to come to us with issues they might be having. Although it may be difficult to keep that open mind sometimes; remember, the world is always changing, and if we want a say in the future, we must remain open.
3: Be strong
Youth empowerment; as mentioned earlier can be extremely challenging. You will discover roadblocks, you will come across arguments and disagreements and you may not be able to get through to the youth you are working with. Above all, you must remain strong. The youth will be looking up to you; and to appear weak will only push them farther away from you. Being a role model requires inner strength; so be sure to have it. You want to be clear on your boundaries from the very beginning; and enforce those boundaries.
4: Be active
Although it may seem that youth only want to watch TV and play video games; it is important to get them active in something. Some teens may not want to get involved in sports but there are certainly activities out there that can engage them. Join them for walks in the park, play a game of Frisbee, or even play a Wii game that requires movement. Simply getting youth off the couch and moving will serve to empower them and get their creative juices flowing. Creative juice equals empowered youth.
5: Have a sense of humor
Above all, laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine and is also the fastest way to create a bond with another person. Be able to laugh at yourself and create an environment that encourages fun. Not only will this make it more fun for you; but the youth you’re working with will be encouraged to open up even more. Working with youth can be a challenging undertaking; however, when you see youth empowerment in fruition, it is most rewarding!