Encourage a young person today
by ellis j. still

Young people tend to be resilient. They bounce back to life’s adversities. There are numerous support systems for youth that encourages and rewards them for doing better. But then at the same time, some stop trying. By nature we encourage those who are doing well, and label and condemn the others as troublemakers and deviants. Part of my history in working with youth is mentoring and working with those who are deemed by many as a menace to society… as deviants.

Those who are excelling have more than adequate resources, but those who are not excelling in life often are an island of themselves. To offer kind words (as opposed to words of condemnation) to those youth who are failing and getting expelled from school, who are frequently in contact with the law, is a huge gesture to them. If you encourage them, you give them a spark of hope that they can be more than what they are today. The expectation is that the spark will one day turn into a fire within them, enough to where they will have a new and strong desire to do and be better.

Condemning is not the answer. You do not know their story. You don’t know why they make the decisions that they make. Often times, habits and attitudes are handed down from generation to generation. At other times they act on the emotions of a painful past that adults would have a hard time coping with, and healing is all but impossible in the environment that they are in.

However, you can help break the curse simply by having a few kind words for a young person who is underachieving. This would not only shock them, but give them self worth, even if they do not show it on the outside. If you know of any young people that you know is struggling, let them know that you care. They will appreciate it, and you could plant in them the mustard seed that one day will bloom and flourish into a strong and steadfast tree.

I listen to the Steve Harvey Morning Radio show. To paraphrase one of his conversations, he told a story on how one day saw a young person working at the airport whose pants were sagging… the way many young people wear them today. Steve walked up to him and said… “you know what, I see something special in you…”. The next day, Steve saw that same young person dressed in a nice button down shirt and tie, and to this day I believe they communicate on a regular basis with Steve serving as mentor. That goes to show the power of encouraging and showing a young person that he is more that what he is today.

© 2010, Ellis J. Still. All rights reserved