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What Kids Need After School


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The 7 Things Teens Want


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:


1.       The need to be trusted.

2.       The need to be understood and loved.

3.       The need to feel safe and secure.

4.       The need to believe life is meaningful and has a purpose.

5.       The need to be listened to - to be heard.

6.       The need to be appreciated and valued.

7.       The 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!


By Susan Darst Williams People Skills 01 2008





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