Communication Tips, Techniques, and Strategies for AFL Staff
This section will provide an overview of strategies that you can use to help in communicating, educating, and supporting teens in your AFL program. Although adolescent brain development research is still fairly recent, it consistently emphasizes the importance of ongoing support of adults throughout the transition from childhood to adulthood. While neurobiological factors add a new dimension to our understanding of why adolescents behave the way they do, their behavior is also a culmination of influences of family, peers, media, genetics, and socio-cultural environment, interacting in complex ways.
Take a few minutes to reflect back on your adolescence years. Did you do things that you now recognize as unhealthy to your well-being? Do you recall decisions you made that would alarm you if taken by an adolescent in your life today? What compelled you to act as you did or make the decisions you made? Were you trying to impress your friends or did you just want the opportunity to experience something that was new and seemed exciting? As a teen, you probably did not think much about the decisions you made or what you did, or even consequences of your actions. Yet this reflecting exercise can provide value to you as you work with teens, helping you to be more empathic and patient as you remember what it was like to be an adolescent. With this new understanding of adolescent brain development, you will have a new perspective on interacting with adolescents by:
To be successful, you will need to be able to communicate effectively with adolescents in your program. Although your contact with the adolescent may only be for a short time frame, it is essential for you to relate comfortably with teens. Once you have formed a relationship with them, you can begin to help them look at situations in their lives that may be unhealthy or unsafe, and discuss options, possibilities, and consequences. Following are some communication tips, techniques, and strategies to help program staff establish a connection with adolescents in their programs.