In this interview, she shares her views and concerns regarding today’s youth. Her conclusions stem from her perspective as a Sociologist. Terri examines what the goal of raising children is, along with all the factors affecting the socialization of an individual. In her book “Untie the Not in Cannot” she addresses these factors: the family, education, peers, education system, and social media. The expert has always been concerned about how so many children are socialized to believe they cannot succeed in life. For example, the words “I can’t” are heard from toddlers to adults. Terri argues that in order to raise children to be fully functioning adults in the community and to be contributing members of society, we must instill self-confidence in future generations.
What are the key challenges young people face today?
The world is changing at such a rapid pace. Understanding that nothing is permanent is a crucial component of a child’s upbringing. The knowledge they gain today may be proven to be false tomorrow. A skill learned today may not be needed tomorrow. A mindset that is a lifelong learner has to be instilled early in life.
Moreover, technology offers many challenges to our youth. Privacy issues are a key concern. Their posts of personal information and pictures will follow them into their adulthood. Technology is a bonus because it answers most of our questions, but the downside is students can get those answers to their homework questions instead of solving the questions on their own. AI (artificial intelligence) is a growing concern; the ramifications of its abilities remain to be seen.
How can parents empower and support youth in their journey to thriving in life?
Listening to their children is crucial. Actively listening, not just nodding your head as you are scrolling on your smartphone. Teach them how to handle their emotions and how to deal with success and failure. Recognize when your child is anxious, and help him to calm down and breathe (breathing exercises have proven to be a great help for children). With so much time spent on electronic devices, children need to learn how to communicate with others. The need to learn body language, listening skills, and how to ask for help. When disciplining a child, use your words carefully: Instead of “you are a bad boy,” – say “I love you, but I do not like what you did.”
Delay gratification! Children do not need to have everything given to them at a moment’s notice. If they really want something, have them earn the money to pay for a part of it by doing extra chores. They will treasure whatever it is that they want because they paid for it. If they have an allowance, take a small percentage out and put it into a savings account for him. Teach your child the importance of handling finances.
Developing a work ethic early in life leads to success. Making the bed, taking care of their room, having specific chores to do, and doing things in a timely manner. Learning about the consequences of their actions is crucial. All this paves the way into the world of work.
What are some effective strategies and approaches for educators and schools to foster young individuals’ overall well-being and success?
When teaching primary grades, educators need to be aware of the body language of their students. Is the student hungry? Tired? Angry? Some students come to school without eating breakfast or a good night’s sleep. When grading papers, mark the number correct instead of the number wrong. Acknowledge mistakes as attempts to do better. Mistakes are a part of learning. Students with learning disabilities need to be constantly reminded that they just learn in a different way than others. Their learning styles do not define who they are.
Challenge your students to do the best they can. Do not accept sloppy work. Have them redo it until it reflects their best effort. Students need to feel proud of their work.
How can we promote the importance of mental health and emotional well-being among young individuals, and what resources or initiatives can be provided to support them?
Meditation and mindfulness are two ways in which mental health is promoted. Research has shown when children meditate; their cognitive skills are enhanced, allowing them to focus. Our youth are so distracted by social media and the approval of their friends; they need help with staying in the present moment. Students who are dealing with trauma can be referred to outside agencies such as NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness). Again, educators need to be observant of body language and signs of distress in their students.
How can we encourage young people to embrace their passions and interests while also preparing them for future opportunities and challenges?
One of the assignments I had adults do in my career classes was to mentally go back to their time as a child. What did they love to do before an adult intervened and said that they could never make any money at what they were doing and to concentrate on more useful activities? I wanted them to feel the passion of doing what they truly wanted to do.
I have students take personality tests, along with aptitude and interest surveys, so they can see where their interests and abilities match up with specific occupations.
I try to get them to think outside the box: predict what jobs will not be available in ten years. Where do they think they can find a place in this rapidly changing society? Also, they need a parachute in case on job falls through; they have a backup plan. They have to learn to be flexible, maybe changing jobs six or seven times in their lifetime. Instill in them that they need to love what they do.
Our youth is our investment in our future. It is our obligation to ensure they will thrive.
Terri Banner Fitzsimmons is the author, motivational speaker, and best-selling author of 4 books. Her biggest passion is helping women achieve their passion for life, to break free of all the doubts they cling to that stop them from recognizing their worth. She didn’t return to school until she was forty, and with the help of the counselors and professors, she could graduate valedictorian in her master’s Program. She went on to get her teaching degree and a certificate in special education training. She had adopted two teenage boys with fetal alcohol syndrome, so she could understand what the students in her classes needed. She resides near Palm Springs, where she continues writing and counseling women. After the Camp Fire in 2018, which took everything from her, she worked in Medford, Oregon, with special needs, until the pandemic.