The 7 Things Teens
For snack, eat seven healthy things:
seven grapes, seven apple slices,
seven cheese cubes, or a "seven-layer sandwich" stacking small squares of
cut-up lunch meat on seven crackers
An old, unused checkbook register or
ledger book, or blank index cards in a file
One-on-one time with parents or
guardians, or a trusted mentor or teacher
Paper and pencil
Ask grown-ups what teenagers want,
and you'll probably hear a new car, an iPod, a paid-up college fund and the
latest in laptops. But that's not what they REALLY want, deep down.
At least, that's what people who
study teenage attitudes believe, based on research by the respected George H.
Gallup International Institute. Gallup and researcher Tim Smith said
statistical surveys are showing without question that teenagers don't want
material goods - they want guidance, mentoring, rules and relationships.
They don't want piercings and particular hairstyles - they
want to live in a world that's peaceful and healthy. They don't want to hunker
down with their music - they want to reach out and help others, and develop
lots of friendships with people of different ages, cultures and backgrounds.
That's according to their book, The Seven Cries of Today's Teens. Those seven things are:
need to be trusted.
need to be understood and loved.
need to feel safe and secure.
need to believe life is meaningful and has a purpose.
need to be listened to - to be heard.
need to be appreciated and valued.
need to be supported in their efforts.
The book lists lots of ways that young people and the
grown-ups around them can work together to identify ways that those needs can
be better met.
Let's treat those needs as
"investment goals," sort of like a bank balance that you might strive toward so
that you can buy something you really need. Instead of depositing money,
though, we're going to work together to see what kinds of things the adults in
a teenager's life can do to make "deposits" in those seven "accounts" that will
help the need be fully met.
So in your checkbook register,
ledger book or on index cards, make a separate page or card for each of those
seven "accounts." Label them at the top with what the need is.
On a separate piece of paper or index cards, brainstorm with
your parent or significant adult, and write down ideas for things that would
create "value" and make a "deposit" in each of those "accounts."
Share these with the significant
adults in your life. You could put them in a colorful folder and keep them
under the phone book, on a desk, on a bulletin board, or anywhere they are
easily accessible. Be thinking of areas in your life where there have been
conflicts and misunderstandings, and list things that could be done to correct
that miscommunication pattern and meet your needs for those important things.
When the parents or adults in your life do those things for
you that you want them to do, to meet your most important needs, make a note of
it in your check register, ledger book or index card file - date it and add it
up as a "deposit."
For example, if you need to be
trusted but your parents are calling you every minute when you go out on the
weekends, arrange to set up a test evening in which they don't call you, not
even once. But make SURE you don't do ANYTHING against your family's rules, and
get home on time, when you promised you would. If they trust you - if they
don't try to track you down or bug you to come home - make a "deposit" in your
first account, for trust.
Similarly, in the area of your need
to be listened to and really heard, if your parent or some other important
adult remembers something that you said a while ago, or changes their behavior
to suit you based on a complaint that you voiced appropriately, or remembers to
buy something at the store that you said you needed or wanted, or otherwise
demonstrates with an action that he or she heard you, record a "deposit" in
your Account #5.
Review how you are doing in all seven of your "accounts"
frequently. Eventually, draw up a "stock certificate" for your parents and
adult mentors, showing them that their "investment" in your character
development has paid off, bigtime. When they "put stock" in you by treating you
as you want to be treated, the "return on investment" will be a huge amount of
happiness for all!