Youth Coaching: Helping young people make future choices
Life coaching with young people can be a powerful tool. It can give young people the chance to have thinking time with someone who has no agenda or expectations that can sometimes cloud their thinking.
People often ask what life coaching with young people can be for? A lot of things is the answer, including but not limited to:
- Stress management
- Making choices about their future
One area that life coaching can really help young people with, is when it comes to deciding what to do next; following GCSE's or A-Level or later on. It is recognised that it is vitally important for young people to develop an understanding of their own identity, what they really want to do – not what is expected of them by others.
Young people can often be heard to say phrases like ‘I should’ or ‘Everyone expects me to’ rather than ‘I really want to’ or ‘It is really important to me’. Life coaching can really shift this for the young person, so that they can confidently explore all the exciting opportunities available to them in today’s society.
Developmental theories of adolescent development, in the late teens (key stage 4 & 5) highlight the importance of ‘identity formation’. The theories identify that young people need to develop an understanding of themselves and their own identity, what is important to them (principles, values, beliefs, interests) and use this as a basis to make choices about their future. There are two well known theories; Erikson's theory of development and Marcia’s Life Stages:
Common to both theories of adolescent development, is the importance of them exploring what is important to them and what makes them ‘tick’. To enable this to happen in a healthy way, young people need the opportunity to explore their dream future for themselves. It is possible that adolescents can be forced into a career direction, can believe they have no choice or simply not have thought about the decision as outlined in Marcia’s Life Stages (1966; 1993). If young people do not discover their ‘dream’ they are unlikely to achieve their potential, and may experience difficulties (relationship breakdown with care givers, educational underperformance, mental health issues).
Therefore it can be argued that there are three key ingredients for young people to make the right choices for their future:
- Developing a clear understanding of self (talents, strengths, beliefs, values)
- Exploration of a range of options available to them (e.g. further study, apprenticeships, entrepreneurial, gap year, volunteering)
- Making a plan with their dreams at the heart of it, that is both realistic and exciting
If these key aspects are all present, young people are more likely to feel motivated, excited, and focussed to achieve their best, which in turn will result in a successful outcome for them.
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