We meet with our troubled teens, see a familiar set of circumstances and behaviours and decide on a solution to the problem as we see it. We are experts, but we are on auto-pilot. But what if we are disempowering them with our expertise and are reducing the chances of a successful outcome? Relationship-based working puts teens as experts of their own lives back at the centre, and through curiosity, listening and empathy empowers them to make positive progress and empowers us to be the most motivated, energised workers we can be.
If you want to get through to your teens on the dangers of online grooming (who doesn't) then you must get them to watch the film below. This short film presents the true story of Kayleigh Haywood, a British schoolgirl who was the victim of online grooming, rape and murder. No words could better convey to our young people the dangers of online grooming than this film does.
So this is a confession about my very real struggle to not cry at any Christmas event with children performing or singing. It's ridiculous. It's about understanding my behaviour and realising it's all about children's potential and how we need to still see it in our troubled teens.
I lay down and wept I shuddered to my very soul… For the thorns and the barbs The words and the deeds That led to those awful nights When all you did was bleed Your blood was not red Although it flowed free It did not require an ambulance Although you were on your knees Instead of the passive victim Lying broken down and crushed You rose like an angry pitbull All you wanted, to lay all to mush But the blood flowed free The wound was raw As you rent all asunder Made a symmetry metaphor They didn’t deserve it Neither did you People born innocent Turning all blue Both victims of a world That refuses to acknowledge The brokenness that resides In the foul and obnoxious But I see the trauma I see the reasons why You lash out, cause injury And that is why I cry For the world doesn’t see this It closes the door It labels you a toerag A waster, a shit, no more It’s why I pick myself up And put my hand out To offer coagulants and bandages No shadow of a doubt Of the fact you are worth it Of the …
If there’s one thing that troubled teens do well, it is going AWOL- disappearing without trace, no note, no message, no nothing. They fall off the radar for a while, but usually they pop up again, maybe a day, a week or even later, often by being found by the police, turning up at a relative’s or returning of their own volition. So what’s up with this? Why do they do this? Is there anything we can do to stop them doing this in the first place, or to get them to return sooner?
An important aspect of belief in oneself and one’s abilities to succeed in life, is the external affirmation of worth from family, friends, a higher power or other significant people in our lives. Unfortunately for some of our most troubled teens, their lives and the people in them do not provide them with this affirmation. Consequently their thinking about themselves is devoid of a sense of worth, of value, of self-belief. Instead of fostering positivity, family members whether present or not, can instill a sense of unworthiness, of uselessness, of being unwanted. ‘Friends’ can cause confusion about self-worth by causing them to link worthiness with a ‘what I can do for them’ user mentality, where it’s about peer pressure for personal ends and not for mutual benefits. When the chips are down, nobody’s got their back and deep down they know it.
How do we keep ourselves motivated when we don't seem to be getting anywhere? When behaviour and attitudes aren't changing? How do we stop ourselves from not really trying anymore, giving up, declaring defeat in our minds and just going through the motions of an intervention? Why should we keep on trying, is there any point? Are there just some who will always be beyond our reach?
So I was awarded the Liebster Award last week, woohoo! This is an award given by a fellow blogger that basically says, you’re valued, which is nice. But the award is far more interesting than just being given a little badge to put on your site. It’s all about spreading the word about other blogs out there that are of great value. So in accepting the award I have the responsibility to share with you some of my favourite regular read blogs. And I know I’m always interested to know what some of my favourite bloggers are reading, so hopefully you will find this interesting too.
Being able to relate to the teens that we work with has to be at the core of what we do. If we can’t relate, we can’t really communicate, we can’t understand, we can’t empathise, we can’t connect, we can’t build a relationship that has the potential to transform. We become therapeutic statues and our hearts become like stone. We are untouched, unchanged. They are untouched and unchanged. There is no life in the relationship. The question is, how can we relate to teenagers whose life experiences are often so radically different from our own?
“Woah, look at the gut on her!” “He’s a total dick.” “What’s his game?” “Nothing ever goes right for me.” “Everyone’s on my case, I wish they’d leave me alone.” Judgement, cynicism, black-cloud-over-the-headism. All features of a negative mindset, all so easy to succumb to. It might start out as a comment or a thought here or there, but over time it can grow into a whole way of being, a whole way of thinking, of viewing the world. Where all that can be seen is the bad, where cynicism dulls our sight, our emotions and robs us of our ability to see the good, the hopeful, the potential. And as negativity makes itself at home, real happiness slips out the back door.