LEAP WITH US: 17 Ways You Can Connect with the Youth in Your Life   

(Dr. Clayton Lawrence, founder and CEO, shares his thoughts in a weekly column focused on community wellness and inspiring others.)

SPOILER ALERT: Youth can be difficult. Male or female – it’s never easy to connect with a pre-teen or teen. But despite what science tells us about the natural tendencies within each gender subset, the truth is, it’s all about the individual. Though it can be complicated to create a positive relationship with the youth in your life, just remember: they are humans just like you, sensitive to words and emotions.

Here are a few ways we work toward achieving mentor-mentee relationships that pave the way for a positive, productive future.

Earn respect by giving respect.

Keep the conversations simple.

Don’t underestimate the power of a “way to go.”

Don’t phish for what’s not openly being offered.

Earn trust by offering trust.

Understand that everything you do is an example.

Consider your words before they are spoken.

Be consistent.

Offer encouragement whenever possible.

When expressing disappointment, be sure to offer solutions.

Share you own experiences of both success and failure.

Don’t give up.

Trust that your mentorship IS making a difference.

Don’t be afraid of discipline.

Celebrate success in special ways.

Get involved as much as possible.

Nurture natural tendencies.

Encourage acceptance and individuality.