For young people, life can feel like a never-ending roller coaster of expectations, emotions and pressure coming at you from every direction. Barnardo’s reported almost half of children and teens aged 12-16 admitted to feeling sad or anxious at least once a week, with nearly one in four feeling negative at least once a day. For 16 year olds, an overwhelming 70% felt sad or anxious each week.
The main causes? Teens cited school (65%), worrying about their future (42%) and problems at home (31%). When asked, three in four young people said they thought it would be helpful to have access to a professional or counsellor at school to talk to when feeling down or upset.
With so many young people feeling overwhelmed and stressed, talking to a youth coach can help provide an emotional outlet to help them work through ways they can tackle their problems, develop life skills and improve their ability to manage stress – all while helping direct and encourage personal growth.
How can youth coaching help?
A branch of life coaching designed to encourage personal development while providing an outlet for stress and anxiety, youth coaching focuses on developing life skills whilst managing stresses and expectations that they are experiencing (or may soon be coming their way). Tailored to meet each individual’s needs, youth coaching can:
Encourage confidence building and self-esteem
Our feelings of confidence and self-esteem can be greatly impacted by our relationships and friendships, as well as our positive thinking. Our mood, the way we behave, even the way in which we carry ourselves are all affected by our self-belief and self-confidence. When we struggle to believe in ourselves and to feel confident, it can negatively affect friendships, school work and lifestyle choices, as well as our mindset.
A youth coach can help challenge feelings of low self-esteem and low self-worth to help build a more positive mental attitude, re-frame negative thoughts, and encourage the development healthy coping mechanisms.
Help set and achieve goals
As teens progress through school and college, it can feel like the expectation for them to already know what they want to do with their lives can be overwhelming and may seem like it comes out of nowhere. If it seems like they are feeling overwhelmed, are unsure of what they want to do or where they want to go in life, or if they’re struggling to make the choice between college, apprenticeships, university, and beyond, it could be worth talking to a youth coach.
Youth coaches can help talk through their options. As an impartial outsider, some young people may be more open to hearing and exploring the options open to them with someone who isn’t a relative or teacher. They can also help young people to figure out what motivates them, where their passions lie, and how they can channel these to discover what they really want to achieve with their lives and careers.
Teach healthy stress management
Stress can be a natural, healthy reaction when we are under pressure. However, when we start feeling overwhelmed, or feel stressed frequently, this can lead feelings of anxiety, insomnia, headaches, and other negative symptoms. A youth coach may be able to help young people identify what areas of their life may be causing their stress (school, relationships, exams, worrying about their future) and can introduce them to healthy coping strategies to help them learn how to identify and manage signs and symptoms of stress.
Provide an emotional outlet and safe-space to talk
Seeing a youth coach can give young people an additional outlet to talk about things they may not feel ready or able to talk about with you as a parent, or with a teacher who knows them well. Some teens may feel more comfortable talking to a coach as they can offer impartial, trustworthy support and guidance without the risk of feeling judged by loved ones. This can allow them the chance to vent and talk more openly about school, family life, friends, exams or worries about their future.
Considering hiring a youth coach?
It can be easy for tweens and teens to lose their sense of who they are and where they are heading during periods of transition and high pressure. Losing signs of the path ahead, or trying to find the path that is right for them can be tough, making everyday problems seem even bigger and more taxing.
A youth coach can help young people discover what is most important to them, what they really want to do, and where they want to go in life. With their help and guidance, teens and young adults an feel more prepared, can develop beneficial life skills and discover coping mechanisms that can work for them when challenges arise in the future.
It’s important to discuss the idea of youth coaching with your teen before getting started, to discover if they would be happy and willing to talk with someone. Try to find someone you are both happy, comfortable and confident for them to speak with, as this can help build a better rapport between the professional and young person.
Sessions typically last 30-60 minutes, with the number of sessions and frequency varying depending on individuals needs. Common coaching methods used during youth coaching sessions can include:
Journaling – Writing or drawing their thoughts and feelings in a private or sharable journal or sketchbook.
Interviewing – Speaking in person together, allowing the coach to pick up on their responses and body language.
Games and activities – Trust and relationship building activities, exercises and games designed to help young people learn how to express themselves.