One of the most meaningful ways to connect with your teen is to brag about them to others. It has to be genuine and real, but being a teen mentor, you should know how to extract those qualities from your kiddo. Every teen has strength of some kind; your job is to identify that and capitalize on it for the benefit of your teen. One of the biggest factors in being successful in this endeavor is showing them absolute support and caring while they are trying to figure out how to go about sharing their gifts.
I LOVE bragging about my kids, but this is where so many adults start to make mistakes– only bragging on kids for the “athletic” or “popular” achievements and ignoring all of the accomplishments so many other kids have achieved. Let me clarify the setting: Highlighting members of each sports team during a pep rally to be interviewed and let them do whatever chant they have is all well and good; however, in the same assembly to have members of the Debate Team, the Newspaper, the Yearbook, simply stand up where they are sitting as “recognition” is not only inadequate; it is insulting. It just adds to the message of how these non-athletic groups are devalued by our culture, or at least the culture of a particular school.
Instead, as teen mentors, not only do we need to recognize our kids’ strengths, we need to celebrate them and share them with the rest of the school community. Bragging about kids makes them feel so special, and every kid should feel that. It is up to us, the teen mentors, to find some qualities in our kids where we can praise and brag. That starts the chain of success. If we can find these hidden, golden nuggets of positivity and highlight them, then keep on supporting our kids, they will eventually start to create new positive accomplishments and they will start to believe in themselves like they never did before. Troubled teens are a population of kids, who by the time they reach middle school or junior high, most of the grown-ups in their lives have given up on them and simply expect the worst. Well, if that’s what you expect, that’s what you will get.
I contend that you can expect things far greater than what your kiddos ever imagined. Even with teenagers who have come from difficult backgrounds, in some other ways, they still are a,”Tabula Rosa”, a blank slate where we have the opportunity to influence them in a positive way, even if we don’t learn about the difference several years later. It is still worth it!! Brag about your kids every chance you can get. You really do not know what a difference it makes to them.