Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to "deal..."

I recently bumped into a young person that I worked with a couple of years ago. When I worked with him, he was a bright young man with a huge heart and a tremendous amount of potential. At the time, he had a knack for getting himself into trouble but was nonetheless a good kid.
He sent me a message after we bumped into one another and thanked me for having a huge impact on his life and asked me to "write about how u delt with me in school and how on my worst days you always made it better for me." I thought that was really sweet and so this post is for him!
The way I used to "deal" with him was by always being consistent and never enabling. I treat kids with compassion but I am completely honest with them and help them see reality. I will not do things for them that they can do for themselves. I also don't believe in sugar coating things just because they are kids. They don't live in a pretend world, they live in the same reality that has drugs, disease, crime and an overwhelming amount of temptation that glorifies bad choices. When I work with young people, I want to help them prepare for whatever they will face and pretending bad things don't exist will never help them make good choices. When a kid does make a bad choice, it is imperative to let them face the consequences. Allow them to "suffer" through the choices that they have made, even if it involves paying money, community service, a painful breakup, rehab or even jail time. It is essential to their learning and developing a sense of responsibility. You can still be there for them and let them know that you support them when they are working toward recovery or rebuilding their life but will not enable them by rescuing them from consequences or by diminishing what they have done. (On a side note, hugs, smiles and encouragement go a long way. Many kids tell me that I am more like their Mom... or what they thought a Mom should really be like.)
I tell all the kids I work with that I will always be there for them and support them through all the struggles but I will also say what they need to hear especially when it's harsh. I encourage you all to say what is difficult... it might not always be listened to immediately but it will be a planted seed and sometimes it might just save a life! (I have worked with suicidal teens too.) Sometimes you have to walk away from a person (young or not) that is continuing to make bad or destructive choices. You can let them know that you will be there when they are done hurting themselves and others and walk away. (Nobody should ever put up with abuse, not even from a child.) 
There is nothing in life more rewarding than having a young person come to you and tell you that you helped them! I am forever touched by all these young people I am lucky enough to "deal" with. Some have amazing success stories, some are still a work in progress and I am blessed to be a part of it. Think about the difference you could make in a young persons life and Live Inspired Now!

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