Healthy Relationships With The Youth

December 8, 2021

Engaging in an argument with a disrespectful teenager will not end with a positive outcome. Arguments usually escalate and get out of control. We had an issue in one of the schools this week dealing with rude behavior from certain students. How one approaches a teenager is very important; you can win them or lose them all together, and so we were careful in our approach. We were keen on focusing on the behavior instead of casting judgment on the girls. The girls’ class teacher complained that certain named girls had become entitled, selfish and barely answered questions in class which the teacher considered as unacceptable behavior.

Separating the behavior from the person is hard to do, especially for parents or teachers who have so many other issues requiring their attention; generally, there’s little time to deal with individual student behavior. Most of the time, when a teenager is disrespectful, it is a sign that emotional needs are not being met. Acting out is often a cry for help; the teenagers are trying to attract attention. When this happens, it is important for the adult to sit down with the teenager and show them that they are important. The teenager needs to be heard and to know that they are not alone. They need to know they are loved unconditionally. When a teenager’s behavior is unbecoming, it is easy for an adult to get angry with them which can lead to taking things personally and end with attacking the child, rather than the behavior.

For the teachers, it is important to show the student concern. Find out what the student enjoys, for example, what hobbies they like, ask about their families, show a personal interest. When a student decides to talk to a teacher about what is affecting them, it is very important that the teacher listens wholeheartedly. Showing disinterest will draw the student away. The bad behavior will continue as the troubled teenaged will continue to attract attention. Share personal stories of failure and success with the students, so they can relate with their own struggles.

Being a friend with your students makes it easy to teach while at the same time setting boundaries. Stating expectations for all the students in a class and reminding them what good behavior entails will go a long way to forge a good relationship with them. The students need to understand the consequences of their behavior and realize they will be held accountable when they do not follow rules. Reminding them that rules and good behavior will keep them safe and make school more exciting for them, will help.

As much as there is talk of reintroducing caning at schools, this may not work. Many teachers tell stories of how the cane kept them in check, but we are dealing with a generation that is different- what once worked for the teachers may not work for these students. Teenagers expect their teachers and parents to guide them and be their role models even when they are acting out. These children come from very different backgrounds and their challenges are unique. How authority figures respond to the different situations is key to correcting the teenagers. When a teenager notices that a teacher holds a grudge against them or discriminates against them, further behavioral issues will arise.

We aim to help bridge the gap between the teachers and the students. We encourage good behavior even as we encourage a middle ground between the teachers and the students. We talk to these children every week and encourage one-on-one sessions where students can ask personal questions and receive personal guidance with the help of a caring adult.

Listening to the girls as they air their opinions. Allowing them to talk uninterrupted helps one understand their needs.

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