The problem with youth is not youth. The problem is our belief that they need to be “fixed”–the true problem with youth is our own failure to provide life-success tools before this training becomes “intervention”. Educational trends will always follow funding. This is completely understandable, but currently misses the mark in terms of building self-awareness, self-confidence, and general coping skills in our next generation. These skills are often only addressed AFTER there has been pain and suffering for teens and their families. School funding is now supporting STEM-based programming. This is good and necessary for our technological advancement as a nation. However, if a child is distracted by emotional issues (which most youth are as a course of growing up), how can we expect them to focus and excel in ANY course of study?
So, what are our expectations in terms of life-skills development? We can expect a certain amount of parenting to develop these skills, right? Well… how many parents have a firm grasp on their own ability to cope in this economic environment? How many parents have the time or even the actual training and skills necessary to imbue their children with cognitive self-awareness, relational and coping skills?
The truth is, adults at this time who are raising children suffer from their own injured past and the crazy pace of the present. We live right now in an era of anxiety and fear. Think about popular media and advertising. Everything is fear-based information to cause the audience to “stay-tuned” or purchase something that will make it all better… gadgets and pills. This is what churns our economy.
We won’t get into the increases in diagnosis and treatment for adolescents and teens over the past few years. I think most would acknowledge that it is steadily increasing… More diagnosis, more medication, and more economic impact.(http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/medicated.html) This means that the focus has clearly become reactionary, stop-gap intervention measures instead of the proactive nurturing of the emotional intelligence in our next generation of community contributors and parents.
What if part of standard school curricula included cognitive skills development for all students aimed at increasing self-awareness, other-awareness, compassion, confidence and general life-success? What if parents had training available to them to foster and extend this learning at home — BEFORE it becomes an intervention situation?
I invite you to consider these issues and ask yourself how you can contribute to change. Can you voice your opinions to your local school district? Find funding for new programs? Develop additional parenting or mentoring skills for yourself? Participate in dialogue? Vote for candidates who get it?
There is no magic pill or gadget for this except care and concern for our youth and the generation for which they will ultimately be responsible.
If you are passionate about this issue, I invite you to join in the conversation. Attend the upcoming free webinar: “Life Success for Girls”
Sara Sinnard is the Founder of The Surge Youth Leadership Program, focused on building life-success for girls. www.SurgeLeadership.org
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