By Gabi W, Noah W, Faith W, Selena G, Alison Hilborn (Adult Ally)
January 28, 2020
We looked up what “Expressing Care” means in a Developmental Relationship:
a. Be dependable: Be someone I can trust.
b. Listen: Really pay attention when we’re together.
c. Believe in me: Make me feel known and valued.
d. Be warm: Show me you enjoy being with me.
e. Encourage: Praise me for my efforts and achievements.
Here is how we believe adults can express care with youth:
We want adults to know that they should take into consideration of how we feel and listen to what we have say. As young people, we want adults to listen and pay attention to our surroundings – and to inform our parents/ guardians if the circumstance requires. Show us that they understand what we are saying by restating what was told to them in their own words and following up later to see how we are feeling. A way to show that adults are listening to us is to make eye contact and not look down on youth. Making friends with youth by being friendly and talking with us about our interests are also ways to show us that you care. Finally, working with us to find ways to fix issues that are important to young people, in a way that makes sense to us, shows that you care.
When it comes to issues, adults please don’t hesitate to speak to youth if you think there may be an issue. By just asking you are showing that you care - even if there isn’t an issue. Being open and be non-judgmental is important to us because if you don’t judge us, we feel that we can connect with you.
Another way to connect is to never single out a young person or make them feel that they are unwelcome. Remind young people that someone is there for them when times get tough. Show that you can be someone students and kids can lean on. Respect how youth feel about situations and guide us in a way that youth can feel that you are someone they can reach out to.
Always point out positives not negatives when talking to youth about issues. Listen, even when it may not have a point, and be patient with youth when approaching a touchy subject.
In general, if you notice that the teen feels discouraged, remind them of the good things they have accomplished. Young people want adults who seem interested in their life and who we can trust. Youth want adults to support their ideas, goals and feel like they are equals whenever possible.
When we feel that we have input and can share our opinions, we feel supported and empowered. In conversations with young people, be sure to ask questions or summarize what they say – show us that you care and that you want to be there. Never interrupt youth in the middle of a conversation, it makes us feel like our opinions are irrelevant. Get to know what each young person is like and treat us as equals.
Mary (Our Kids Network) and Kasja (Region of Halton: Public Health) listened to our stories and acknowledged our experiences in a series of discussions on relationships and strengths.
These are some of our thoughts on how adults can express care for youth – or express care for anyone! We all want to be seen, heard, and acknowledged :)