You hold the power to change someone’s life
Step up to this challenge during Youth Month 2021
Let’s use Youth Month as an opportunity to step up and create much-needed change!
In South Africa, June is usually the month when our Youth is celebrated. But under current circumstances, they need our care, courage, and compassion.
As adults, parents, and entrepreneurs it is time to start a campaign that could change their reality.
Circumstances through 2020 and 2021 have disrupted and destroyed many lives and families. Adults globally are struggling to cope and forge ahead during this difficult time.
With many losing their jobs or having to accept salary cuts, financial concerns are all-consuming. Coping with illness and death, uncertainty and just trying to keep head above water, creates many challenges.
This said, we often overlook the effects of tragedy and disruption in the lives of children and young adults.
Older folk still tend to view childhood and early adulthood as periods of ignorant bliss, where life is seemingly unaffected by hardship and responsibility…
However, the reality is that our youth are being bombarded by a multitude of adversities daily – and more so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This unexpected turmoil has left our youth feeling isolated, afraid, anxious, disempowered, and overwhelmed.
Naturally, this affects their ability to learn, grow, and go on to fulfil their life’s purpose.
In this blog, we look at ways in which parents, adults and entrepreneurs can help to create positive change.
By highlighting a few of the key challenges faced, and offering possible solutions, we identify ways to make a difference in the life of a teen or young adult.
The benefit of this goes beyond just brightening someone’s day simply
because you hold the power to change the course of someone’s life.
Pressure to maintain their grades
Education has been severely disrupted over the last year. Maintaining good grades under current conditions is a huge challenge faced by our youth.
- Many learners are only attending school every second day, effectively halving their normal learning time
- Not all homes or schools have access to online infrastructure to facilitate teaching and learning
- Learners are expected to complete their schoolwork with much less support from trained educators
- As many have discovered, not all parents have the skills, patience, or time to step into a teaching role.
Yet they are expected to produce good grades, often working in isolation.
Be the difference
- As parents, be involved in their schooling and their daily lives
- Acknowledge that their feelings of overwhelm are valid
- Do not disregard or downplay the emotions they are experiencing
- Help them to plan and maintain a daily schedule
- Motivate them to do their best
- Encourage them to take breaks and rest well
- Communicate positively: discuss progress or problems they may be experiencing
- Seek assistance from others able to offer tutorage or guidance
These tips serve to:
- Give them a voice and allows them to feel validated
- Make them realise that they are not alone with their fears
- Enforce the fact that you care and have their best interests at heart
- Add structure to their day, granting a feeling of control over the circumstances
- Ensure that they cultivate balance in their lives and have coping mechanisms in place
- Give them a clear message that you are happy to assist in solving any problems experienced
Coping with social isolation
Humans are social beings and the freedom to socialise has been snatched from us.
Accustomed to the freedom of daily interaction with schoolmates and regular contact with family and friends, our youngsters are bored. Cabin fever has become their new reality.
Be the difference
- Explore and learn new skills together
- Indulge in safe outdoor activities with them
- Engage in new and different types of interaction with your child/children
- Try activities that entertain, such as movie nights, dress-up dinner parties, and board games
- Increase contact with friends and family via telephone or video calls, particularly on special occasions
These tips serve to:
- Lift their spirits
- Alleviate boredom
- Encourage creativity
- Remind them (and us) to have fun and appreciate life
- Encourage better bonds with friends and family, growing their support structure
Most adults have experienced fear and anxiety over the last year. This, despite grasping the dire situation we find ourselves in and taking the necessary precautions.
Anxiety spikes, fed by these huge and sudden lifestyle changes, frustration, fear of illness and death, media reports, ignorance – are being reported globally, irrespective of age or maturity levels.
With Covid infections affecting most households or families, a large percentage of our youth have experienced either forced separation from infected family members or the loss of loved ones.
This often meant no personal interaction, shared moments, games played, movie nights, shared meals, hugs, or comfort when feeling afraid.
Take a moment to imagine the mental, emotional, and physical effects of this statement.
Then consider how many were simply left to try and cope with situations they were not equipped to manage.
Our youth has had virtually no chance to process or release all this emotion. Understandably they are drowning in anxiety.
Also, be reminded that when the immediate threat of the pandemic ends, most still face the ongoing issues of bullying, peer pressure, poverty, hunger, substance abuse, sexuality, low self-esteem, puberty, etc.
So, for the sake of building a future of well-balanced and successful adults, we need to step up as parents and leaders. And the time to do so is now.
Be the difference
- Eliminate the dated view that children don’t have a voice
- Start listening to what our youth are saying and asking for
- Let’s normalise strong, independent personalities who know what they’re working towards
- Guiding them into a space of confidence, allowing them to claim their voice
- To achieve this, we will need to review our approach to parenting
- Let’s help them to achieve their full potential
What our youth needs more of right now is empathy, support, compassion, an open channel of communication with people they trust, positive reinforcement and encouragement.
To know that they are loved, worth our time and attention, to know their self-worth.
They are precious humans, after all.
They desperately need to be taught coping mechanisms and life skills. And they deserve a safe space to debrief from their harsh realities.
As entrepreneurs we have a special set of tools, skills, and values that we hone every day:
- Facing our fears
- Service to others
- Investing in ourselves
- Following our passion
- Connection with others
- Leadership and self-motivation
- Allowing our values to guide us
- Life balance and personal growth
- Discipline, tenacity, and hard work
- Goal Setting and planning our vision
- Using our strengths to our advantage
- Knowing and acknowledging our worth
- Being creative, creating opportunity, and problem-solving
- Finding and using our voice to bring about positive change
- Identifying and accepting our uniqueness and using it to stand out from the crowd
And there are many, many more!
During this month, I challenge each adult and entrepreneur to take
just one step to make a difference in the life of a young adult or child.
Be an example to them, encourage them, support them. Or simply acknowledge them for who they are
and the struggles they face daily.
Your single, positive exchange could give them hope when times get tough.
Or your action could be the catalyst that alters the course of their life.
Let’s make 2021 the year that we step up to empower our youth.
This blog is based on an interview done with my young daughter,
allowing me specific insight into her world of challenges.
I encourage all of you to start within your immediate circle and then
initiate greater change by extending your campaign of support.
Remember that sharing this could mean saving them.
About the Author
Megan Deers is a freelance copywriter and content creator, specialising in creative works. She is passionate about helping businesses and entrepreneurs find their creative voice through clear written communication. Using her love of the English language and wordplay to simplify your message, she creates content with personality. Connect with Megan to discuss her service offerings and solutions