Gina Figeroa - Time is flying by...
Time is flying by and we need to seize the opportunities we can, to stay connected with today’s youth and one another. I have been working with middle school and high school aged youth for the past 8 years. I love working with youth. I enjoy creating safe spaces and opportunities for them to share their stories and experiences. I admire how flexible, resilient and adaptable youth are, and how much I can learn from them. I learned a lot from listening to and observing the youth in my life, but my greatest lesson is; you do not have to know all the answers or fix the problem, you just need to listen and let them know that you care, even if they seem like they’re pushing you away.
If you would like to better connect with the youth in your life, there are simple steps you can take to do so: listen to their music, read the books that they are into, play games with them, notice their style and appreciate what they share with you. They know much more then you think. If you want to be respected by young people, it is important to be honest about your feelings or concerns and show them that you care. Listen to them and validate their experiences by honoring their feelings. When working with youth, it is necessary to remain open to new ideas, yet also to respect conflicting opinions. Learn to be honest about your own feelings; if you are angry or overwhelmed, do not point fingers or blame. It is important to find ways to give constructive feedback, so that the youth can grow and learn from the experience.
When trying to understand youth in your life, remember what it feels like to be scared, sad, insecure, nervous and unsure of what to expect for the future. My guess is, you know these feelings and you can relate. Our emotions and feelings are powerful and can have a strong effect on how we connect with others. In these increasingly technological times full of smart phones and tablets, it is easy to get distracted and disengaged. Youth do not need the adults in their life to access information they have the Internet and know how to navigate it better then most adults. However, young people do need the adults in their life to be present. They need adults to listen to them, validate their feelings and to model respectful behavior.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world”-Gandhi
Adults can start the ripple of change and if youth feel empowered they will join and continue making ripples.