We all remember that one teacher that had a lasting impact on our lives beyond the classroom. Whether they showed us tough love, or simply supported our after school activities, we remember not what they said or did, but how they made us feel.
With students spending approximately one-third of their day in school, educators have the unique opportunity to positively influence the way students feel about themselves and their abilities. The opportunity to make teens feel empowered is not only important, but integral in their overall development!
If you're an educator, coach, parent, or anyone that works closely with tweens/teens, help them transition into womanhood and their natural hair journey with five foolproof tips from my non-profit organization HairOnPurpose:
1. Daily Affirmations: You’ve heard this before and probably have some affirmations written down somewhere, but it is important to give your students the opportunity to come up with one they can recite everyday.
It will set the tone for the day and with daily repetition, will continue to reinforce their truth. Get them to personalize it so there is an emotional attachment to the affirmation that sticks with them. Lastly, encourage them to create one with specificity.
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For example, a past HairOnPurpose participant came up with “ I am beautiful.” My request was for her to take it a step further, so she came up with, "I am beautiful because I said so and my opinion matters most.”
Not only did she state powerfully that she is beautiful, but she was able to understand that her feelings of beauty aren’t tied to the opinions of others.
2. Empower them to make decisions: Day in and day out, tweens/teens relinquish decision-making to their parents, teachers and coaches. Although it is sometimes necessary, I believe it's also paramount to ocassionally give them ownership by providing all important factors of a decision and letting them do their own research.
HairOnPurpose Tip: Parents--have a daughter that wants to curate her own hair care products? Provide her with a price range, ingredients considerations such as allergies, a list of 3-5 hair brands and a computer! Have her do research on the items and come back to you with her preferences.
This activity empowers kids to take ownership of their hair care routines and demonstrates your willingness to hear their thoughts/opinions. It also teaches them to conduct proper research before purchasing anything!
3. Honest feedback: One of the most impactful moments of my teenage life happened when I was 14 years old and one of my teachers sat me down and told me “the honest, no holds bar…truth.” Although it hurt, it was a pivotal moment for me and in one conversation, changed the trajectory of my adolescent life.
Don’t be afraid of hurting your tween/teenagers feelings when telling them the truth. Just make sure that the delivery and tone of your feedback is one that your kid can receive in the spirit it was intended.
HairOnPurpose Tip: In our sessions, when the “honest, no holds bar” truth is coming your way, we have a code word that signifies just that. For instance, if we established our code as “rainbows and butterflies,” you are about to receive the truth with love when hearing those words.
4. Emphasize their abilities: I think all parents and educators can agree that one of the most fulfilling moments is when a young person thinks they can’t do something and end up doing the opposite with dedication and hard work. Sometimes, teens aren’t confident in their capabilities, especially when it comes to difficult tasks. By emphasizing their abilities, we highlight what they are capable of achieving, thus giving them confidence to tackle the goal.
HairOnPurpose Tip: Have your teen write down one difficult task that they want to achieve. Have them address actions that they have completed to make progress daily. Each week, emphasize one positive actionable thing that they did. The emphasis on the positive actions item will encourage them continue to work towards their goals and ultimately achieve what they once though was “difficult.”
5. Expose them to something new: Research shows that empowerment of young people can be supported by exposure to new experiences and environments. Ever visit a new place and feel your senses go with all the new sights, delectable food or fresh smells? It was probably exciting, educational and made you feel empowered to visit more places. That’s exactly what we want to give our teens.
So expose them to a new hair tutorial, dining experience, or simply visit a new environment with them.