In the beginning…
This is ridiculous! I never wanted to do this! This sucks!
Only two days into their Resilience Builders Everest Base Camp program in Nepal these were comments passing the chapped lips of many of the teenagers in the group.
And the people these comments were directed (shouted) at? The parents who had accompanied them, of course.
The frustration was growing and the lack of belief in achieving the goal of reaching Everest Base Camp was contagious amongst these young people. Although not articulated, it was apparent that the parents were also questioning the challenge ahead, which was appearing more monumental and out of reach by the minute.
Change is in the air
As the days progressed, the conditions and the terrain were ever-changing, and so was their attitude. Some teenagers were speaking more positively and could even be heard saying that other family members would love to do this. Suggestions of another sibling partaking in it, or even the whole family undertaking the adventure together were touted. Within just four days the dialogue had started to shift. Resilience was building.
What was the shift? How did the behaviour move?
The group of 26 participants consisted of parents and their teenagers. Their personalities and backgrounds may have varied, but they were all exposed to feelings of trepidation, fatigue, fear, excitement, anxiety and loneliness.
Through daily reflections, debriefs and coaching sessions from Resilience Builders’ facilitators, they developed a sense of belonging and clarity. Sharing their experiences provided an opportunity to build trust, community and respect. As the old adage goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Living side by side with each other helped build an awareness of the effect of their actions on others.
Expectations can be powerful. The frequent group discussions about their goals for the day, as well as the potential obstacles that they were about to face, gave many clarity. It also provided a sense of safety, empathy and unity.
Through a parent’s eyes
As a parent, resilience is often tested and deciding what is best for a child’s development can cause uncertainty. Observing the growth in parents as they participated in the journey was significant.
Watching teenagers achieve something that they never imagined they could was inspiring, particularly watching how far they were prepared to push themselves and extend their capabilities.
Seeing the courage that drove their confidence as each day progressed, and completing daily achievements fuelled their self-belief.
But, one of the greatest moments was observing a parent witness this growth, this unlocking of potential, in their own child. Truly inspirational.
In the early stages the trek, for many, was full of the unknown and trepidation. This created discomfort and fear and interfered with emotions and performance. Letting go of their vulnerabilities and fears, galvanised relationships as they worked together. As the trust developed between the parent and the child through calm communication, the teenagers developed more respect for their parents.
This journey confirmed seven key points you can use to help unlock your teenager’s potential.
1. Empowering your teenager – Help them to make their own choices
2. Understanding them – Let them know that their voice is being heard
3. Calmness – Keeping pragmatic
4. Trust – Being trustworthy and providing a safe environment where they are not being judged
5. Respect – Words and actions on accountability, guidance, empathy, hope, unity and love
6. Communication – Clear, concise and realistic expectations
7. Belonging – Providing a sense of connectedness and inclusiveness