BIO-Lisa Nichols has reached millions, both nationally and internationally with her powerful message of empowerment, service, excellence & gratitude..
Motivating Your Teen’s Spirit!
Teenagers live in a unique world of their own and to enter into that world you must be willing to change your rules a bit, stretch beyond your comfort zone and be willing to become emotionally naked! Motivating the Teen Spirit (MTS) has been providing “Safe Space” Life Skills training programs for over 13 years. As of June 2008, we have impacted the lives of over 210 thousand teenagers internationally. Supporting over 98 thousand teens to create new integrity contracts, 105 thousand teens to begin pressing stop on their negative self talk and pressing play on their powerful positive self–talk and most importantly, preventing over 3,053 teen suicides.
In this article I will share with you three coaching points we use to transform teen lives, build powerful parent teen relationships and uncover leadership diamonds in “ordinary” teens.
When you step into our world as a teen, parent or youth advocate, our intention is to take you places you’ve never been before, to have you do things you’ve never done before and stretch you in ways you’ve never been stretched before. All of this, so that you can experience parts of yourself that you have never experienced before.
No. 1 Create a Safe Space – When you can create a safe space for both you and a teen, you both will chose to share freely both with others and with yourself. A safe space will encourage you, push you, support you, and love you through your own personal process of growing. In order for each of you to feel truly safe and for each person to give their best to this process, I recommend that you set up three agreements. We purposely do not call them rules so that each teen has a chance to “choose” to play full out or not.
Each agreement is agreed upon by every teen and adult within the room before starting the workshop (and since 1996 we have only had three teens out of 210 thousand not agree and have to be dismissed).
1. Reserve all judgment (no laughing or making fun of each other’s sharing or challenges)
2. There are no repercussions (don’t throw what’s shared in each other’s face later)
3. Unconditional Love (show love through the difficult moments)
Once every person in the room has agreed to each of the above agreements, the room is considered a “Safe Space” and now we are ready to begin. This safe space exercise is equally effective around a kitchen table or in your family room. The challenge of maintaining a safe space will lie more with you as the adult than with the teen. You must honor each of the three agreements no matter how challenging.
No. 2 Peel Back Your Own Onion –
You are guiding the experience, the depth, the authenticity, and the sharing. Teens want to know that you are human as well and that you did not always make the right choices. They want to know that you had/have doubts, worries and dreams. Don’t jump right into your misery story and also don’t play awesome, like it’s always been great. Share your journey, both the highs and the lows. This is the time where you are establishing your likeness and common bond with them, so take full advantage of the opportunity to share your journey (remembering to keep your share age appropriate). Refrain from using statements like “back in my day” or “when I was your age”. These statements sound lame and are over used. Your statements should include words like “although I was …I had challenges with…,” “I found myself many times struggling with…” As you share your initial connection story, you are allowing them to know that you understand what it feels like to work toward clarity, personal power and setting boundaries.
No 3. Remember this is a Dialogue not a Monologue – You cannot believe how many times you “thought” you had a conversation with a teen but they in fact did very little talking. Adults often ask the question, provided the answer, give the coaching, and assess them-selves. Then we even walk away saying something like, “I just had a really great talk with Ryan…” And your teen will allow you to dominate the conversation every time because they don’t know how to stop you. It lets them off the hook of having to show up in any way and the sooner they allow you to finish, the sooner they can get back to their lives.
In a dialogue, you ask more open ended questions that do not require just a yes or no answer. Your questions are more geared toward:
- How does it feel to you when we are not getting along?
- What can you do differently to make this feel better? What do you feel that I can do differently?
- When are you happiest? When are you afraid?
- What do you need support in?
- What does the ideal relationship between you and I look like to you?
Remember coaching point no. 2, is that you must first provide the answers to each of these questions as a way of opening up the safe space. Your answers must be a bit raw, even shocking. They deserve to hear your truth. When you leap in first you stand an 80% chance of getting a better answer then, “I don’t know” when you ask them. They will begin to see that something new and different is happening, and as you peel back the layer on your onion, they will follow once they are convinced that it is safe to do so. This is how a new relationship begins to emerge with your teen.