Think back to when you were a young adult. For me, it was all about flannels and some of the most epic hard rock to hit the airwaves, even to this day. But, because I was young, what I didn’t know outweighed what I knew by a long-shot. Toss in a little teen angst for good measure, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster where life lessons are learned in hindsight or as afterthoughts. Unfortunately, some kids do grow up living life from the School of Hard Knocks. But at what cost to their self-esteem? Or, in their ability to trust or love? Or to believe in themselves..?
So, here’s 10 tips for helping empower young adults in conquering their world, building their empire…..and exchanging the hard knocks, for a little hard rock…
Love Yourself. Probably one of the simplest, yet hardest things a kid will ever learn, and definitely one of the most profound. Empowerment starts with Self.
Boundaries: Young adults should be taught about establishing boundaries. And that overstepping them isn’t just about their siblings who barge into their room unannounced. Or their parents who show up in a leotard after Jazzercize to pick them up from school…the horror. Boundaries can include recognizing friends who may take advantage or borrow things that never get returned. Boundaries can include noticing what family seem to disappear when they’re needed the most. And boundaries can include establishing healthy bonds, and healthy relationships, and recognizing when to walk away from unhealthy ones.
Attraction vs. Distraction. I often write about distractions. My hope is to teach others about the distinctions between the two, to empower them. Distractions are in place to numb, to avoid, to keep running. The reality is that if dad or sister or nephew are distracted by excess, then growth gets impacted. Distractions can harm, they don’t empower. Teaching young adults to recognize the difference between a healthy attraction to a person or situation versus a toxic distraction can save their reputation, their self-esteem, their self-worth, and even their life.
Be Yourself. Some call it authenticity. Others, genuineness. It’s about empowering youth to walk away from what doesn’t positively serve them so they aren’t compromising their principles or their individuality. If a situation makes them feel uncomfortable, walk away. If a person makes them feel unheard, leave. If they’re not being respected, disengage. Approval and acceptance start within.
Acceptance. In the movie The Matrix Neo was presented two choices. If he took the blue pill, he would wake up to life as usual, where blissful ignorance replaced acceptance and accountability; nothing ventured, nothing gained. Or, Neo could choose the red pill where he’d be shown “…how deep the rabbit hole goes.” That said, he had to accept his choice. Empowering young adults to make healthy choices supports self-empowerment. Acceptance is about teaching them to be OK with who they are and to embrace life with its good, bad, and not-so-pretty parts.
Word and Deed. If kids are taught this early and consistently, then by the time they’re young adults they could be less likely to get tangled up in unhealthy relationships or toxic environments, and more skilled at recognizing word and deed.
Trust Self and Others. Trust is a funny thing: it can take forever to establish, and can be shattered irreparably in the snap of a finger. By teaching youth to trust themselves, their judgment, and their instincts, it can help empower them to walk away from toxic agendas and unhealthy relationships. By teaching kids to recognize if someone’s intentions are not pure, they will know whether or not to trust that person, and in exchange are learning to trust themselves more.
Go With Their Gut. That gut feeling rings true here. Young adults are no exception. If they feel something isn’t right about a person or a situation, they should learn to trust their instincts and to walk away from anyone, or anything that compromises their comfort. If it doesn’t feel right….it’s not.
Accountability. The word ‘accountability’ can leave a bad taste in your mouth. It has a bad rap because it is defined as responsibility, or blameworthiness for something a person said or did. And, if a kid is raised by in a violent or toxic environment, they’re likely not being taught about accountability because chances are, their caregiver lacks their own. But, what if we were to teach accountability proactively to teens, instead of reactively as an afterthought? What if we embraced teaching them to reflect on the consequences of their words or deeds before they engaged in a behavior? What if we were to take the stigma out of the word ‘accountability’ and replace it with empowerment and self-awareness? Here is where the very definition of empowerment and positive change begin…. #Mindblown.
What’s Gone Before Will Go Again. As kids, we learned about ‘patterns’ in school, where we colored pictures and put them in order to continue a pattern of apples to oranges or numbers in a sequence. And now we get excited when our kiddos bring home an “A” on their homework assignment on patterns –gold stars and all. But what about teaching kids about life’s patterns? If their friend embarrassed them in front of their crush at school today, who’s to say it won’t happen again tomorrow? Or next week? If their partner has a history of abandoning others when things don’t go their way, what changed this time around? By empowering young adults to recognize healthy versus unhealthy patterns, they’ll be able to make more informed decisions and healthier choices.
Imagine a world where kids are taught these skills so they steer clear from the Schools of Hard Knocks, the afterthoughts, the hindsights...
Imagine the gift of empowerment they could receive…