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6 Tips for Dealing with Conflict with Youth

August 26th, 2015

The book Building Developmental Assets in School Communities offers tips for dealing with conflict one-on-one with the instigator to help influence behaviors in a positive way. We adapted and expanded a few of their ideas included below:

  1. Use their name. This communicates respect and attention.
  2. Identify the inappropriate behavior. Stick with facts in this reflection—no shaming or expressing your own feelings. Don’t, for instance, say you were disappointed or worried, which only tends to add to the negativity.
  3. Indicate that the behavior does not match up with how you see them. Emphasize the good and the potential that you know is within them. In The Dark Knight Rises, there’s a scene where Batman asks Cat Woman, a burglar, to help people in the city escape. She responds by asking why she should help or get involved and declares that she’s not that good of a person. He responds by saying that she is stronger than that. He lets her know that he sees something valuable within her (even though she doesn’t see it in herself). In the end, she lives up to what he believes about her. Look for the good within. Mirror it to the young person.
  4. Ask them what happened. Indicate that you understand but that what they did was inappropriate. Give them the opportunity to share and think through their actions. Reiterate what is wrong and why.
  5. Model a different way. Ask them to show you an appropriate way to respond, a better way to handle the situation. If they get stuck, ask them if they want you to model a response.
  6. Encourage them. Always close tough conversations with a word of encouragement and thanks. Thank them for listening and express your belief in them to do things differently and better next time: “I believe in you.” “I know you can be the child you want to be.” “I’ve seen you make progress in this area, and I know you’re going to grow more and more.” “I care for you, and I will walk with you as you struggle with this issue. Know that you won’t be working on this alone.”

This is an excerpt from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Cultural Diversity and Youth Power

August 19th, 2015

Outwardly, I fit the blonde, blue-eyed barbie image. And yet, I have Cherokee Indian, Irish, and Scottish blood in my background. I found that out when I was in middle school. What did it mean that my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother was full-blooded Cherokee? I read everything I could and told myself that it explained a lot about my natural inclination to liking wolves (I was in middle school – of course I made that kind of conclusion!).

 

Seriously, what does it mean to who I am today to have connections to three different groups of people? Fast forward to today and the increase in cultural connections – be that biological or the neighbors who make up your street or the friends your youth have on-line.

 

Our world is huge. Young people today have more opportunities than any other generation to reach out and interact with others around the world. Cities are changing. Neighborhoods are changing. And, our groups are changing. Various cultures offer opportunities to expand the world-view in our classrooms and programs. As adults running programs, we have to become more adept at juggling values and cultural norms.

 

And, young people have their own culture. They embrace the digital age and are often bi-lingual. Youth culture is also characterized by their interest in certain music, food, dress, language, and the arts.

 

What an opportunity to learn and grow! Ask them to teach you from their perspective and understanding. In our book, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, we collected tips from colleagues and combined them with our own to provide ideas for guiding your work in today’s youth culture and its various identifying elements.

 

What is a “norm” of your family? Your generation? Your culture? How does it play out against other norms you encounter?

 

8 Ways to Publicly Honor Youth Leaders and Contributers

August 12th, 2015
  1. Hang pictures of youth and their achievements in your building
  2. Nominate them for awards and scholarships; even if they aren’t selected, you can announce the nomination
  3. Ask for a proclamation (recognition) from the city council/mayor’s office
  4. Submit an article for a newspaper, professional magazine, or the local TV news
  5. Give youth job titles (displays importance of roles; can use on resumes)
  6. Describe their work in the company newsletter or through a display
  7. Brag about them on social media—Twitter, Facebook, Flikr, or YouTube videos (double impact because it promotes your organization as their friends see the content)
  8. Invite them to speak on behalf of your agency at public events

These ideas are from our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

129 Happy Songs

August 5th, 2015

Have you ever asked someone what makes him happy and he replies “uhmm . . .” and continue to hem and haw before looking a little puzzled over how to answer?

 

We made that question a little more specific and asked youth what songs make them happy simply when they hear them come on. The response was immediate! One hundred and twenty-nine “happy” songs were provided to us to share as we worked on our book Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth. Knowing that music can lift a spirit and put a smile on the face, we hope you will enjoy the happy tunes on our book’s complimentary playlist at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwyA1SrFC9FdH1SqOoE7H0bEsiI_XRV-p.

 

Turn to them – or your favorites – as often as you need to keep your foot tapping and a smile on your face. If music is the one of the things we know can make us happy, why not tune in?

Focus on 5

August 2nd, 2015

Gratitude is an active practice that can change your focus everso much to what’s right and good with life instead of what’s wrong. Being grateful can change an entire situation because you’ve changed the most important thing in a bad situation: you! Your attitude, your perspective, your choice on how you will respond.

 

Focus today on 5 things you often take for granted but for which you are really and truly grateful. Perhaps it’s that cup of coffee that brewed automatically while you were still trying to wake up. Or maybe it’s the hot shower that brings life. Or you got your favorite parking spot in the garage (the one you grumble about if you DON’T get it). Note the small things that make your life richer and that when absent, you are extremely aware. And give thanks with a smile. Life IS good.

 

Want to learn more about how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude on a daily basis and how that helps you in your work with young people? Check out our book Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.

Words from Youth Workers: Developmental Assets

July 29th, 2015

Developmental assets remind us that it’s the little, everyday things that are important with kids: listening, playing, having conversations about the things that are important to them.  Assets keep us REAL and connected.”  YMCA youth worker, Nashville

Wanna know more about the assets?  Ask us about connecting you to literature or workshops to help your organization understand and utilize the framework or Developmental Assets.  It’s not an add-on – it’s a way of living and being and talking together!

Words from Youth Workers: Positive Youth Development

July 22nd, 2015

“Always look for any strength and build on it.  Let one thing be the beginning building block.”

youth worker, Nashville

 

Make a habit to find one good thing about every person you meet.  Say it outloud to the person you meet.  You might be the only one who has noticed a good trait in him/her for a long time!  This is the basic foundation of positive youth development.

Words from Youth: Diversity and Acceptance

July 15th, 2015

“Respect my ideas and listen to me, even when they’re different.”

youth leader, youth development center in Nashville

 

Ask a young person how well you are doing in the respect department.  What about people that are different from you?  What about people with different ideas than you?  How could you be more accepting of youth around you?

Youth Heroes: Glories Happy Hats

July 10th, 2015

The Urban Passage serves youth held in custody at the Northern VA Juvenile Detention Home. They partner with community volunteers to teach, inspire and mentor youth in custody.  Their goal is to be a partner with them in rebuilding their lives, helping youth get access to educational and social support, economic counseling and spiritual mentoring that will help be successful and contribute to their community.  The Urban Passage wants to see youth move from the life they have always known to the life God intended for them

 

Since 2005, they have partnered with Glories Happy Hats to sew hats for terminally ill children in a local hospital. The youth responsibilities include designing and creating the hats, as well as checking for quality assurance. Volunteers work alongside them, encouraging them to persevere when they are overwhelmed by the task or discouraged by setbacks. When the hats are completed, the youth deliver the hats to families in the hospitals. The children get to choose a hat, and if they wish, a hat for a friend or sibling.

 

Kimberly Moore, the Urban Passage founder, says, “I love this program because young people get an opportunity to contribute to the happiness of others. The teen’s lives are difficult, but when they meet the sick children, they begin to realize that they have a lot to be grateful for.” The program makes a lasting impact on the teens because they realize that they have a positive contribution to make to society, and the community values their efforts. The teens love it too. After they are released from the detention program, they often ask to come back to b e a part of the Happy Hats program.

 

Find out more at  www.glorieshappyhats.org.

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!

Field Trips to Explore Youth Perspectives: Virtual and Real-Time Opportunities

July 8th, 2015

Excerpted from Groups Troops, Clubs and Classrooms by Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor, 2014

Field trips are a powerful way to help youth expand their perspectives. They help youth learn more about the community and expand their horizons of opportunity and awareness. Field trips can reinforce academic, civic, or cultural learning and connect to the personal sparks or interests of young people. Field trips are powerful ways to help youth explore potential connections to the community with regard to internships, career fields, hobbies, and volunteer opportunities.

Choose field trips that give youth different perspectives of what makes the community work and demonstrate a variety of sparks. Try one of these: airport, bakery, pro sports team practice, cathedral, farm, factory, science lab, or a military base. Think about what makes your community unique and take youth to explore your community on a deeper level. Where could you take your youth to give them the most diverse perspective possible?

Or consider virtual field trips:

  • Use Skype to interact with      people across the world. Skyping can prepare youth for what they might      experience on an upcoming trip to another part of the world or it can be a      conduit for creating updated versions of “pen-pals.”
  • Virtual classrooms can      provide venues for groups to connect through technology for the sake of      discussions or doing presentations.
  • Take virtual field trips      around the world to learn about anything you want to. The website      www.meetmeatthecorner.org has many virtual field trips submitted by      children around the world.
  • Have youth create and submit      their own videos to share on Meet Me at the Corner’s website.
  • Use a search engine to      research topics of interest to your group. Just remember to preview any      media content that you share with your group.

 

Looking for more ways to help young people explore the world?  Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

111 Trees Planted for Every Girl Born Here

July 8th, 2015

we often talk about the 6 degrees of separation between issues, but it was cool to see how this story connects saving girls’ lives and planting trees which leads to education and economic growth!

“A village in southern Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district is quietly practicing its own, homegrown brand of Eco-feminism and achieving spectacular results. For the last several years, Piplantri village panchayat has been saving girl children and increasing the green cover in and around it at the same time. Here, villagers plant 111 trees every time a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up. Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees on the village’s grazing commons. The village’s former leader, Shyam Sundar Paliwal was instrumental in starting this initiative in the memory of his daughter Kiran.” This article shares photos and more details about this remarkable hidden corner of the world, { read more }

Teaching Philosophy

July 6th, 2015

A friend asked me the other day to define my teaching philosophy.  Such a big question!

I answered something like this:

“I believe that  teaching should  engage the heart, brain and body, so I’m a big fan of practices such as service-learning,  problem-based learning,  peer teaching  hands-on learning, and learning through play.”

What is your teaching philosophy?  What are the beliefs that undergird the way you engage youth in your classroom and programs?

Good thoughts to ponder!

Words from Youth: Leadership

July 6th, 2015

“We can be trusted and we are responsible.  Let us show you.  Give us a chance and let us lead.”

youth leader, Donelson YMCA in Nashville

Do you trust your youth enough to lead?

How can you give them the training and responsibility they need to grow as leaders?

The Power of Relationships

July 3rd, 2015

My friend, Rena, a referee, stood on the sidelines before a scrimmage, talking with a frustrated basketball player. She gave her some advice for improving her game. She explained in detail how important her role was on the court and why the coach had changed her position. She gave perspective to what was going on. Rena helped paint a vision and expectations for leadership for the girl’s role and how she could step up her game.

 

After her next game, the player sought out Rena and told her that she had taken her advice and had the best game she’d ever had and scored the most points she’d ever scored.

 

This quick moment is a great example of how a caring adult created a relational space, took a few minutes to listen, focus on the player, be real, and find her strengths. A mere 5-10 minutes of listening and sharing together can build a person up!

 

Rena simply took advantage of a moment, and turned it into something deeper. She seized an opportunity to show the player she cared and to offer encouraging words, actions and challenging ideas for making things better. The result? The player ran with it. She needed someone to listen, to care, to create a safe space for sharing and then she was open to feedback for making changes. That’s positive youth development in action!

 

To learn more about creating relational space, the value of listening and empowering youth to be proactive in their own lives, check out our book, Groups, Troops, Clubs & Classrooms, The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.

 

 

Have you had a passing conversation with a young person that you later learned was a bigger deal to them than you ever thought possible? Share with us!

 

 

Youth Heroes: The Power of Words

July 3rd, 2015

Without anyone in the church knowing it, a youth pastor in Charlotte County, Florida challenged his 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders to a thirty day project in the power of words. For thirty days, these young teens and pre-teens were asked to make a conscious effort to only say encouraging things to everyone they met. No put downs. Only positive, encouraging words wherever they were. At home. At school. In the neighborhood. At church. In the mall. In the grocery store. Everywhere and anywhere these youth were to avoid put downs as the norm for communication style and replace them with loving kind words.

 

Oh, and this project of love was to be done on the sly. No one was to know what they were up to or doing. It was a secret mission.

 

After three weeks into the project, the senior pastor called his youth leader into his office and asked him, ‘have you noticed the difference in our church (of some 380 people)?’

 

‘What difference would that be?’ the youth pastor asked.

 

Reverend Hayes replied, ‘months ago, everyone was growling about everything. Now, everyone is excited about the ministries we have and the upcoming projects. I am just so grateful that God is doing this.’

 

‘Me, too,’ Keith Coss had replied at the time. ‘Will you come to youth group and share this with them?’

 

‘Why?’ the pastor asked.

 

Keith smiled. ‘Trust me.’

 

The youth group meeting came and Rev. Bob Hayes shared exactly what he had shared in his office earlier. As soon as he was done speaking, a huge roar of laughter from the 28-29 youth present erupted. The pastor looked confused. Keith asked one of the 6th graders to tell the pastor what they had been doing for the past four weeks and why. The youth told the pastor about the verse they had studied (which they had all memorized).

 

The senior pastor’s response to the revelation of this big secret was so profound. He looked at that group of kids (which it should be noted was a diverse group of youth in a less than affluent part of town) and told them, ‘don’t ever let anybody ever tell you God can’t use you to change other lives for the better’ and then he quoted 1 Timothy 4:12 to the group.

Reprinted with permission from our book Ready to Go Service Projects: 140 Ways for Youth Groups to Lend a Hand. Find more ways to help youth engage their skills, talents and passions in serving the community by picking up your own book at your favorite online bookseller OR bring us to your school, church or community organization to lead service-learning workshop!