The Trouble with Teens

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Dear Friends and Readers, 

Sara likes Todd but Todd kissed Renee and Renee is Sara’s best friend forever. Meanwhile, Colton likes Sara but his friend Austin told him that Sara wasn’t interested because Austin’s girlfriend Becca overheard her talking about Todd before Science class last Monday.

Now Sara and Renee are fighting, Becca is looking triumphant because finally people are talking about something other than her being “slutty”, and Austin, Todd and Colton are trying to avoid eye contact with anyone least they get sucked in further.

While you are sorting all of this out, Robbie and and Alyssa are getting a little too friendly over there in the corner. Surprise! 

I am not the Teen Director at the Boys and Girls Club, and for that, I am grateful. Still however, issues of preteens/teens tend to find their way into my work rather consistently. 

The trouble with teens/preteens, is that teens are TROUBLE. I love them, but they are trouble.

We are going to have a “The Trouble with Teens” series on Corduroy’s Button. Why, you ask? It’s simple… they have too many issues to put in one post. Enjoy! 

~Miss Brenda

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlem….

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…Wait, what were you saying? I’m sorry, I must have spaced out for a second. 

Dear Friends and Readers, 

I would just like to note that announcements are awful. AWFUL. I hate them. Kids hate them. I know that I sound just like Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Unfortunately, there are some things that kids need to be told. But if we tell them and they don’t hear us, what is the point? I don’t know that there is a way to make announcements ideal, but with a whole lot of work, they can be made a bit more fun and effective.

Here are some things that I have seen work well in the past…

  1. Switch it up. One day a few of my coworkers changed the announcements around to make them all rhyme. Kids paid attention! I have also seen people do announcements in accents or as a robot from mars and it helps a lot. Kids will pay attention if you do things that are outside the norm. 
  2. Use a skit. Skits can both be funny and have a huge impact. They work best in person of course, but we have done skits over the loudspeaker as well. Kinesthetic and visual learners benefit from this especially as they can see and “experience” the message.
  3. Use a character. Have you ever seen the movie The Holiday? There is a man who puts a napkin on his face and then places his glasses back on. He then becomes “Mr. Napkin Head.” For about two years, the fifth and sixth grade ministry that I worked with had “Mr. Napkin Head” give announcements. 
  4. Make it interactive. Remember, what you are really doing is teaching. If kids are able to participate even just by raising their fingers to count the announcements, it can help. 
  5. Less is more. Give kids one or two things that they need to remember. If bus behavior is a big issue or if you need to promote an event that is coming, emphasize those key words. By focusing on just a few announcements and by using as few words as possible, it will be far easier to retain their attention and have them learn the important things! 
  6. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I will read the schedule for the day to a group of kids and explain each activity quickly. Then I will review using two words or less for each activity. That way kids can both learn about their options, and remember them all
  7. Expect silence and attention. Simple, right? You will have more success if you don’t talk while they are still making noise, but instead wait to move on until kids at least appear to be listening. Even if not every kid was listening, they at least heard you and allowed others to hear you. I also require kids to be looking at me as another prompt for them to pay attention. 
What has worked for you?
~Miss Brenda

A Jungle Jeep, a Rope and a Conga Line

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Hello Friends and Readers,

Leading lines is one of those things that we learn to do in Kindergarten. We used to fight over that job. Now there are days when I would give it away…along with part of my paycheck…to anyone willing to take it. 

Here are some things that I have found helpful when leading lines to minimize the chaos and maintain control: 

  • Walk Slowly. Kids have short legs. They stop to tie their shoes. They wait for their friends. They get distracted and forget to walk. Walk slowly to be sure that the group stays together. 
  • Walk Backwards. Kids push and shove and cut in line ALL THE TIME. Even the most mild mannered children will start running and dancing into a parking lot if not watched by an adult. Walking backwards is one of those crazy-good calf workouts that comforts me when I am later sitting on my “bottom” NOT working out. It also makes my job 80% easier because I can witness and address line issues as we go. 
  • Play a Game! Follow the leader works well with preschoolers. Conga lines, clapping rhythms  and songs work for preschoolers and elementary students. Guessing games can be fun as well.  
  • Use a Rope or Touch the Wall. 
    • At the YMCA where I worked, we told all of the kids that the wall had thousands of bug bites. Unfortunately, the walls did not have hands to scratch their itches and needed the kids to help! Everywhere we went, the kids scratched the walls. This kept them in line and out of the way for others using the hall. 
    • With preschool age children, ropes can also be helpful! 
  • Embrace Your Theme. We had kids ride the “space shuttle” and “Danny the Dino” and the “jungle jeep” and the “one horse open sleigh,” depending on what the theme was for our camp week.  Kids had to open the door and climb into the “vehicle” which was the line. When kids got out of the line, then we had a man overboard and pretended to panic because we had been going so fast! The kids loved that walking in line had become a game of pretend. This works with preschoolers – early elementary school students. 
~Miss Brenda 

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