When I coach youth service professionals and youth about interactions, often times the adults feel like they don’t have any leverage with youth because they feel like they don’t have power ‘over’ them to get them to cooperate. On the other hand, the young person feels they are constantly being nagged by the adult. As adults we frequently feel like youth should do what they are told (which I totally agree with) but when working with at-risk populations I have found that they have not been exposed to the values some of us grew up with and they have no context of the ‘old-school’ up bringing model. So as adults we immediately label situations and the youth as disrespectful, rude, and non-compliant.
In actuality, it is our approach to the youth (and in any situation for that matter) that set the tone for the response or result we get. When I coach the young person about a situation usually they say “if he/she would have asked me and not burst into my room demanding that I get it done, I would have done it.” Youth often resist because they know it frustrates the adult and sometimes they get a kick out of it. Here are three things you can do to engage a youth in getting a task done: