All children not only deserve but thrive with proper respect and consideration. This is particularly important during adolescence when kids are shedding their childhood comfort and embarking on unknown territory to discover themselves and the world they are growing into – a world they will soon need to face by themselves.
So, can teens really respond to respectful and considerate exchanges? Can they appreciate being talked with about difficult and challenging concepts when we make the vocabulary accessible to them?
My answer is a resounding Yes! Children like to be made aware of their autonomy and choices in a respectful manner. Teens thrive on being helped to understand their attributes, their strengths, their weakness, their choices which are ultimately essential to their engaging in optimal development. With kindness, respect, and patience, teens will be able to develop self-awareness and confidence in making choices; ultimately, they will engage in successful self-regulation. This means that they will be able to develop healthy, autonomous selves, capable of self-preservation, i.e. respect for themselves, and ultimately, respect and proper conduct toward others.
The Guidebook for Teens and Young Adults is written in a conversational and respectful tone that assumes both interest in growing awareness and desire for autonomy in the teens. Both of these are fundamental drives of the developing person that can be optimized for success when encouraged and valued.
Basic attention and respect for the teen help adults avoid the pitfalls of being either overprotective and thus delaying their child’s autonomy or, at the other extreme, expecting more maturity from the child and providing insufficient structure and guidance. By providing an authentic and respectful approach without manipulation, the author allows the teens to estimate and recognize their own level of autonomy and to engage with the work at a pace appropriate for their developmental status.
Finally, teen readers are advised to keep their self-evaluations private, thus avoiding comparison, pressure, and judgment from outside and inside. This gives them the freedom to be who they are at any given time and the opportunity to be honest with themselves in their work.