September is a time of new beginnings and experiences for young people. Maybe you're done got yourself roped into helping out with teenagers this autumn-coaching a team, volunteering in a classroom, tutoring, giving music lessons, or teaching Sunday School. Here's a sure-fire way to make sure that no one ever asks you to invest this kind of time and effort in youth again.
I call it:
4 EASY STEPS TO MAKE SURE TEENS CAN'T STAND YOU
# 1. Prejudge them by the clothes they wear, where they live, and their family history. Repeating the mantra "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" ensures that you'll always know what to expect out of each teen right from the get go. Assume that kids from good homes never have real problems and that kids from bad ones are nothing but problems.
#2. Rib, cajole and tease them about every awkward step they take. There's a lot of literature out there about the profound changes a teen experiences on the journey from childhood to fully functioning adult, but who really reads that stuff? Poking fun at the teen drama puts youth back in their place and lets you have some peace and quiet. Demeaning nicknames do the trick, too.
#3. Keep them as passive as possible. Youth get too out of control otherwise. You're the grownup-that means you're the one with the knowledge and experience. Always tell them what to do, never show them what to do. And for goodness sake, don't ever let them experiment or try to learn something on their own!
#4. Assume that youth are only interested in sleeping in, eating pizza, and texting. If you have high expectations for young people, you'll only be disappointed.
These four easy steps, applied consistently, will ensure that teenagers will be groaning when they see you coming in no time. Heck, they may even hate you! Of course, you could-#1) get to know them personally #2) reassure them that they're normal #3 help them learn what they're good at & #4) show them that they can make a difference in this community-but then they may begin to like you and maybe even ask you to help out again next year!
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator with Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that helps people solve problems and be happier through counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups. Learn more about this important work at www.fswc.org.