Top 7 Ways to Connect with Teens
Everyone who interacts with teens knows it’s hard to show them you care, let alone have conversations about important topics with them. We all thought the eye-rolling, angsty, dismissive teens of the ’80s and ’90s were bad, but they had nothing on today’s screen-obsessed, constantly distracted, Snapping fiends. But just like generations past, teens today want to be understood. So here are 7 things our traveling teams have learned from students about how to earn their respect and trust.
- Listen and understand first.
Even if we think they have the wrong priorities or perspective, students need to know that we understand what they’re going through before we ever offer advice or feedback.
2. Be open, honest, and willing to admit fault.
Sharing your story is paramount! Teens tend to assume that adult Christians are perfect and have never had doubts or made mistakes. #EyeRoll. By being honest with them, we help them to see us as real people who don’t just follow God because we’re supposed to, but because we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) that His ways are truly best.
3. Be yourself.
Younger generations are all about authenticity, and they can spot a fraud a mile away. So instead of trying to speak, act, or look like them, just be you. Even if you are totally “uncool” by teen standards, embracing that will go so much further than trying to be something you’re not.
4. Help them see the “why.”
“Because I said so!” doesn’t cut it. Teens are fully human beings who think critically and want to be trusted. Help them understand the reasons behind certain decisions, and invite them into the decision-making process. This communicates that we believe in them, as well as that we aren’t afraid of pushback.
5. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Always assuming the worst of anyone is a bad idea in general, but even more so with teens. Typically they’re just waiting for us to react as though everything they do is the worst. But if we believe the best of them, many times they’ll pleasantly surprise us.
6. Have high standards.
Teens meet whatever standards we set. If we expect them to act like young children, they’ll respond in kind. But if we expect them to be mature, responsible, deep thinkers, the vast majority will live into those expectations.
7. Speak their language.
Giving long lectures or making them watch cheesy, outdated videos are surefire ways to lose their attention. They’re used to fast-paced, screen-based, and cool. So if we want them to hear what we have to say, then we need to spend some time learning how to speak their language.
Taken from axis.org
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