In all my years of working with teens I have seen a pattern. Teenagers want to be seen and heard. It’s true; those two areas are what set them apart from all other age groups.
Teens want to be seen
Think about how many teens you have seen that have spiky hair, or how many have a different hair color. We see them and say wow I can’t believe their parents let them walk out the front door like that.
Parents will say not my child, there is no way. But before you point the finger and laugh remember that this is just a phase. Many teens struggle with self identity so many will try just about anything to get attention from their peers. They really do not care about what adults think of them, only what their peer’s think.
Teens want to be heard
They often feel like they do not have a say because many look down on them or give them the excuse of not knowing enough yet to make decisions. But we need to listen to teens; they are the ones that are going to be in leadership roles. So look past the spiky hair and listen to what they have to say.
If you realize that teens either like to have attention or want to be heard, you will know how to better get along with them. Teen self esteem is a big issue in America and many adults do not want to help make it better.
Whenever I speak at youth assemblies I like to take time to walk around the school and see what students are posting on the walls. Why? This is a way in which I get to listen to what they are saying through drawing or writings. I especially like to walk past the art rooms because students like to express themselves through art and you can see what it going on inside that teen through their artwork.
So take some time and listen to what teens are saying, don’t just notice them and look away. They need more adults to understand them and guide them through this time in their lives when their self esteem is high one day and low the next. This is normal for teen but parents do not know what to say to their kids. So just put your arms around them and let them know you are proud of them.