How do you get teens to talk?
Last week, I posted a poll on FB and Insta to ask whether you wanted to learn more about tots or teens (if you didn't see it, maybe we're not connected on FB, you can do that here)
I was surprised to see that so many of you want to learn more about yoga and meditation for teens - which is great because they definitely need some guidance, especially during exam stress, dealing with social anxiety and all those mood swings.
Nicole, one of my teacher graduates, wrote to me to ask, 'How do you get teens to speak?'
Now, if you usually work with little ones, getting them to speak is definitely not something you have to consider, it's getting them to listen that can be the challenge. But for teens, getting them to speak, especially about their emotions or ideas, can be quite the challenge.
Have you ever had the experience, when you throw a question out to the group and there's just absolute silence. Not one response, a cough or a cricket.
It is awkward to say the least!
So here's 5 ways that you can handle that:
1. Journalling: Asking teens to think and share aloud, on the spot, can be. a bit intimidating for them. They haven't had time to process their thoughts or decide what to share, so giving them a couple of minutes to journal on a particular theme or question, before you open the sharing circle, will give them the time and space they need to feel comfortable and confident to share their feelings, opinions and thoughts with the group.
2. Partner Sharing: For big groups or new classes, speaking out loud can be terrifying, especially if they're already experiencing social anxiety or self-doubt. Break the ice by getting them to share with a partner. Open up a question or theme and give them 2-minutes to each talk with a partner, then open up the discussion to the entire group.
3. Make it anonymous: Ask them to note down their ideas, answers or questions, throw them into a jar and pick them out one at a time. This works really well with anything that might be particularly awkward for them to discuss, like self-love or self-respect.
4. Introducing each other: This is a great one for encouraging compassionate communication. Partner them up to talk and after 3 or 4-minutes, bring the group back together so that they can share what their partner had to say. So rather than talking about their own ideas or thoughts, they're actually talking about their partners. This not only makes it feel less uncomfortable to talk but it really encourages listening skills as they absolutely have to listen to what their partner is talking about, in order to correctly convey it make to the group.
5. Music! Music just always breaks the ice, relaxes the atmosphere and makes the silence feel less intimidating (for everyone). If you're not sure what music to play, my go-to is usually MC Yogi (check him on youtube or spotify) or ask your group of teens what playlist they want to listen to.
If you want to learn more about supporting teens through yoga and mindfulness, join one of my upcoming Yoga Alliance Registered Teacher Trainings or my online course in Yoga Nidra for Teens.