“Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world.” -Jane Goodall
Keep this in mind whenever you wonder the what it takes to get the youth to believe and know that they can make a difference.
Normally, I would have a definition lined up, but I want to get into the heart of the matter and answer two questions in particular:
- How do adults hold back the youth?
- How can adults empower the youth to change the world?
I feel that this is important for two important reasons:
- Adults need to know what they are doing wrong and what they need to do in order to help educate and produce our future generation.
- The youth need to know through adults that they can make a difference no matter the age.
With this being established, let’s get into the questions:
How do adults hold back the youth?
This answer can vary from adult to adult depending on the situation or circumstance. Kathy Caprino wrote an article for Forbes called 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders. It is an important read for not just parents, but all adults because the youth are always looking to adults for advice and guidance.I will try to touch on them briefly.
- We don’t let our children experience risk. A child will eventually need to learn to take and risk and learn from the outcome. In an adult’s effort to shield a child from harm, we prevent them from learning through risks.
- We rescue too quickly. Our youth cannot learn if adults are always stepping in to fix their problems. In an adult’s effort to rescue a child from failure, they never truly learn how to save themselves.
- We rave too easily. Our youth can have a diluted sense of reality when adults rave, but are not honest about their actions. In adults effort to try to make a child feel good about certain things that are meant to be bad in feeling, they never learn to deal with the reality of the matter.
- We let guilt get in the way of leading well. Our youth are masters psychologists at making adults feel guilty about not getting their way or what they want. In an adult’s effort to try to win over the love of their youth by spoiling and rewarding over something the child is not worthy of, they never learn that rewards come through obedience and doing the work that is required.
- We don’t share our past mistakes. Our youth miss out on valuable lessons on life when an adult does not feel they can share their mistakes openly and honestly. In an adult’s effort to hide and not share their past mistakes with the youth, our youth are bound to either repeat or make even worse mistakes that can set them back.
- We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity. Just because a child have a special trait or talent does not mean they are fully mature. In an adult’s effort to make such a mistake with the youth, they may not learn how to deal with other kids in their age range.
- We don’t practice what we preach. An adult cannot expect a child to do something if they are not doing it themselves. In an adult’s effort to talk the talk, but not walk it in front of the youth, they will call the adult a hypocrite and ignore them.
It is important to know that as an adult, if you do not realize what you are doing to set back our youth, you cannot expect them to grow!
How can adults empower the youth to change the world?
There are many ways that an adult can empower a youth to change the world. Shayna Gladstone wrote an article for NuMundo called 10 Ways to Empower Youth Leadership. This is an important read because through empowerment, our youth can do a lot more than we could ever imagine. I will simply list nine of them because the last one is about joining Rising Youth for a Sustainable Earth (RYSE). All nine ways listed below are simply put.
Give the youth tools to collaborate and problem solve, brainstorm and reflect.
Encourage them to use their passions for good.
Guide them to believe that their voice matters without judging or criticizing their ideas.
Guide them to understand that people will not always want to listen, just because we would like them to but to not take it personally.
Help them learn that sometimes even the most fabulous idea may need a bit more logistical planning.
Help youth develop habits, that in the end, they can sustain without ‘suggestions’ or prodding.
Give youth a chance for them to fail but help them to learn to succeed.
Employ storytelling of successful youth leadership to counteract negative messages about young people.
Invite the youth to launch a project or idea and support their progress.
If adults are willing to do any or all of the above, it can help support the youth in becoming successful and growing into the future leaders needed to change the world.
I encourage you to take a look at what you are doing and see how you can empower and inform the youth of tomorrow. Whether they tell you or not, they are watching and listening to everything you do and say. Use that to your advantage to teach, guide, and fuel them to reach their potential. The reward for doing so are the following:
- An informed and empowered future generation to carry on when we are gone.
- Solutions to answers that past generations could not solve.
- Creativity and innovation that can make life easier for everyone.
- Future leaders who can make world a better place.
Let’s remember that the youth of tomorrow can make a difference but it starts with adults like you making a difference in their lives today.
I have a few questions to ask you that I would love for you to give some thought to. Please feel free to answer and comment below:
- What was the one memorable thing you passed onto a young person?
- How did it benefit you and the young person?
- What advice would you give right now to the youth to be successful?
- What would be the one thing you would show the youth in order to be successful?
Your answers can help yourself or another adult deal with your present situation in dealing with the youth:
- How can you empower and inform the youth of tomorrow to change the world?
-Michael J. Fite