There is immense value we can offer youth by simply listening, “between the lines.”
The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL
- I was lost ALL day.
- I got yelled at for running in the hall trying not to be late. Then I was late, and got in trouble for being late.
- The teacher kept glaring at me, I know she hates me.
- They only give us FOUR minutes to get from one class to another.
- I can’t get my locker combination to work.
- Everyone was staring at me . . .etc.”
I absolutely LOVE working with teens! Yes, it can be messy and filled with drama, but it’s amazing all the same to enter their world and see life and situations through their eyes.
This particular student has recovered beautifully from her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, first day of school.
What Made the Difference?
Listening for the bits and pieces of positive mixed into the list of things that went wrong. And then watching for those nuggets that could prove hopeful and encouraging once the high emotion of the moment began to fade.
The NOT SO Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, First Day of School
- I like my math teacher – he’s funny and said we won’t have homework.
- My Spanish teacher spent most of class speaking in Spanish, and I understood everything she said.
- We get to play games in drama.
- English – no homework. . .etc.”
Listening Between the Lines
Even though this student was focusing primarily on the trials in her day, her nuggets of hopeful things were pretty impressive. What I heard and later summarized for her was:
- My schedule is amazing.
- My classes are going to be easy.
- My evenings and weekends are going to be homework free.
- Learning is going to be fun in several places throughout the day.
Her day wasn’t a 10, but it also wasn’t a 2. With this new perspective in hand, she was able to move forward with renewed confidence and hope for her school year.
As coaches, mentors, parents, and advocates this is the gift we have the opportunity to give students each day simply by taking the time to listen between the lines. Students want to talk and share. When they do, beautiful things can start to happen.
If you aren’t sure how to get a conversation going, or keep it going, email me and I will share some great “door opening” questions you can try out with the youth in your life.
Thanks for checking out my blog! I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate, and licensed as a therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.
Loved this. When my kids were teens we had a dinner ritual where each of us would say whether our day was: good, bad or just ok, which generally lead to some conversation.
Love that ritual. Each day when I pick my kids up from school we do highs and lows. Same idea to get them talking and sharing. It really works! 🙂
Great ideas on talking with teens. It is in their culture (especially boys) to be negative and make sure you know what “sucks.” Luckily, they grow out of it. Redirecting can be tricky but effective.
Redirecting, reframing, and staying positive is key. I do agree, it can be tricky, but well worth the effort!
Great point! Listening between the lines is a skill which all parents should strive to achieve.
I’m sure you are really good at listening to your kids, Robin. Thanks for checking out my blog!
My daughter is a lot like me.. but a teen, which equates to.. being just like me but not able to harness her organization and control… so I can relate to her better. Super tips
Great tips. Getting a teen to recognise good in things too takes great skill
It does take some practice, but what I love about coaching is anyone who wants to be purposeful can do it. 🙂
I love how you helped to turn the view around and see things in a positive manner. I try but am not always successful – or maybe they just want me to believe that! 😉 At dinner I ask them what was good about their day. Thanks for the tips!
Love that you ask them, Mindy! I’m sure it means a lot to them even if they don’t let you see it right away. 🙂
Listening is vital to any interaction of course but I can see the additional challenges you have when working with teens. They ARE from another planet, right? I applaud you for your talent and skill
Lol – I think that is men and women (being from different planets). Teens are in a category all their own. 🙂
The conversations that teens have can definitely affect them not only now but also for their lifetime. If they give meaning to those negative “between the lines” comments, it can break them apart. Thank God there are people like you. It gives hope for the future.
It’s quite a skill understanding teenagers, mine are still young, not sure I’m looking forward to the teen years.
Teens are really quite amazing. You will be ready when your kids get there. 🙂
YES! I wish I had known about your blog and services when my kids were growing up. Your depiction of the first day of school is spot on. I laughed reading it because I’ve had these conversations with my kids through the years…
Thanks, Tandy. I appreciate your kind words and am glad you can look back and laugh. 🙂
I have a teenage son and a daughter who’s in middle school. I talk with them each day about their day at school. I always want to hear that they had a good day but know that sometimes unlikely days appear. I start each evening by asking them what was the best part of their day.
I love that! 🙂
I love this Brenda. It reminds me of my first day at boarding school, and your description brings back those vivid memories. I can imagine what it is working with teen and even more amazed that you love it. You must be a power woman to love working with them and I applaud your dedication to it too.
These are some great tips. I remember feeling like I wasn’t always heard as a teen, so I can imagine that this would be impactful.
Feeling like you are heard IS so important. Thanks for taking time to check out my blog and leave a comment. I really appreciate it. 🙂
Love this! My oldest niece turns 13 this year and I’m already seeing some changes in her personality and the way she interacts with me. Hopefully we can still have good, open conversations!
Just the fact that you are aware of changes and that you have a desire for good, open conversations puts you in an incredible space to be successful! Thanks for taking a minute to share. 🙂