A core part of my activity is providing Coaching for young people. The levels of anxiety and depression seen amongst young people is rising each year, and it is rare to find a young person who isn’t experiencing some form of stress. Coaching is being increasingly recognised as a valuable tool to help people deal with the complex demands of modern life and at times the overwhelming stress of growing up.
There is actually no age definition for young people that I think is helpful, but I am generally thinking about people from age 11 up, including University age.
This is an age range that I have significant experience of, through teaching, Coaching, and as a parent. I am aware of the significant challenges faced by all young people as they grow physically, intellectually, and emotionally. A great deal is expected of young people in terms of what they achieve and what they have to put up with. Our society has become more complex and in many cases the level of support available has decreased.
I believe that coaching can provide the support that many young people need in terms of:
- helping manage the dynamic complexities around growing up
- learning and study skills
- managing relationships
- improving family dynamic
- managing emotions
- managing exam stress
- decision making
- self awareness and esteem
- an independent and confidential person to talk to
I tailor my Coaching to match the needs of the individual and can include help with specific tasks (e.g. an exam) or more general life skills (e.g. coping with stress). We can look at immediate issues, longer term goals, or the ongoing nature of life.
The core aspect is the development of a strong rapport between the Coach and the young person so that they feel supported and not judged. The independence of a Coach separates the process from family and school and allows the young person to discuss and explore issues that they might otherwise feel reluctant to bring up.
The ultimate aim of coaching young people is to help them develop skills that will not only help them deal with their current issues, but also with whatever they come across in the future. GCSE exam stress is often followed by A’Level and University stress. Building skills and approaches early helps smooth out the future bumps and allow the young person to look forward to opportunities and the unknown, taking with them a feeling of being able to cope with uncertainty.
There are many similarities but also some differences between the needs of different age groups:
GCSE (up to 16)
- an increasing need to understand self identity (still part of a group but starting to want to be individual)
- pushing back at authority
- physical changes and increasing awareness of sexuality
- increasing exam pressure and need to make significant life decisions
- increasing comparison with others, socially and educationally
- more complex family dynamics as parents start to feel the pressure of uncertain futures
Post 16 – A’level, apprenticeships (up to 18)
- increasing independence
- beginning of financial pressure and perhaps need to find a job
- break up of school friendships
- a middle ground of living at home while wanting to be an adult
18 and up – University or first full time work
- increasing independence
- big step in sense of self, which if unclear can lead to a crisis
- possible financial issues
- study and exam pressures
- greater freedom without sometimes the skills to deal with it
- lack of clear goals resulting in an uncertainty of purpose
- more serious reltionships
- loss of certainty in choices that have been made (did I choose the right course; did I choose the right industry?)
The core of my Coaching is that I believe people are not broken and do not need fixing. Life is complex and sometimes people need help seeing a clear path or becoming comfortable with the uncertainties of our world. The past is not always helpful so we focus on the present and the future. We create our own experiences of the world and our feelings are based on our own thoughts about what we perceive. Life has ups and downs, and that’s okay. We practise focussing on the positives and choosing how we want to feel today.