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Teenacers targets coaching for individuals entering junior high, high school, gap-year, post-secondary, young adults transitioning into the workforce after post-secondary, and all ages in between. It also targets young adults who are trying to discover or develop a talent, niche, or attribute and need some support sorting out the process. These are the most significant transitions in a teen’s life and they present opportunities for growth and learning alongside the right support and structure. Young adults, regardless of age, can unlock their potential with coaching, mentoring, building leadership skills, and feeling empowered as they move through and out of their academic careers. Adolescents must present a willingness to become introspective, curious, reflective, and willing to take action. Teens and young adults are just like adults in the sense that they don’t get along, bond, or feel trust with many individuals on their academic journey. As a coach, it is important to be honest and open about finding the right fit between coach and coached.
As a coach, I do not walk ahead of my clients, I walk alongside. I like to use the analogy of driving on the highway on a foggy night; you don’t see the whole road leading to your destination, you only see a few meters at a time, and somehow you are able to get home. Coaching teens is the art of lighting up the path, a few meters at a time, scaffolding the skills that serve in teens unlocking their potential, enhancing their self-image and giving them the confidence to build their own road map. Coaching is different from therapy as it focuses on the present and future and it does not diagnose, treat, or cure conditions that require medical or psychological treatment, rather it provides tools for action. Coaching is also different from counselling as it does not wrap around the family dynamics or trauma. Coaching methods differ from one coach to another. Teenacers targets teens who do not fall into the demographic of teens seeking supports like therapy, counselling, addiction recovery, or support in developing executive functioning skills. It is a one on one leadership, mentorship, and empowerment program.
Empowerment is not a result, it’s a process. As adults, we tend to want to give the answers and solve the problems. Although this might work in the short term, it is not authentic or sustainable as teens are constantly faced with different challenges and changes. What they really need to feel is the belief that they have the ability to access and self-source their own wisdom and self-awareness. I like to use the analogy of a diamond thief who was following a diamond trader, waiting for the opportunity to steal his diamond, when he finally lamented, “where did you put it?” the diamond trader said, “I put it in the one place I knew you would never think to look, in your own pocket.” My role is to use reflection, journaling, guided discussions, and visual and verbal prompts to make teens look inside their own pocket to find the diamond they have been carrying all along. This process of self-discovery and taking action is an empowering journey for teens.
Resilience is not a feeling, it’s an action. Teens are hardwired for struggle. Remember how babies learn how to walk? None of them give up and say, “I’ve been at this for so long and I keep falling, I am just going to sit down;” the people around them, keep encouraging them to get up. As they fall again and again, we don’t punish them because we know they will finally get it. Unfortunately, as teens, they are functioning in an environment where they have to be good at everything, everyday; Math, Science, English, Social Studies, Physical Education, options they didn’t want to be in, chores, relationships at home, while managing to not get grounded or lose their screen time. If we were to reflect on our own lives, we would not work somewhere doing something we are not good at, neither do we have someone taking our phones away from us for a day when we make a mistake, and somehow, we still struggle and have bad days! Building resilience is a holistic process of gaining the tools that will teach teens how to think, rather than what to think; communicating; understanding their experiences; compassion and empathy; thinking outside of the box; reflection, and negotiating with teens about what support means and looks like to them.
Success is personal. Adults and teens have different interpretations of success. Let’s put it this way, when we say we want to prepare teens for the ‘real word’, what we tend to forget is that a teen’s real world is grade 8. It is equivalent to saying that adults put themselves in institutions to prepare themselves for war, or bankruptcy, or divorce, or even illness. We don’t do that for adults, so why do we do that for teens? Why do we try to instill a desire for success by portraying a hypothetical world out there? In the real world, very few deadlines are actually deadlines, we don’t get late slips from work after our snowy day commute, and we certainly don’t ask for permission to go to the bathroom. My focus is to equip teens with skills that would actually apply in the actual real world and that would drive them to success, like self-esteem, positive self-talk, strong work ethic and drive, the ability to see the big picture of who they are and who they can become. Success is internal and it involves being able to develop gratitude and learn from these challenging stages in our lives.
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