Artículos en Inglés
How to motivate youth to help those in need
Translated by Jessica Wu
We should eliminate all thoughts that today’s youth is more selfish. Today, more than ever the world is connected and we are able to see all the suffering that exists worldwide.
Many of us might consider teenagers and children today to be too “technological”, unable to leave their computer screen in order to help those in need. But actually the Boston Globe newspaper published an article in 2008 reporting that there is a record number of young people volunteering.
What could be causing the increase in volunteering? A lot can have to do with the fact that the Internet is increasing the knowledge of problems around the world, which motivates teenagers to become some sort of volunteer. Also many teenagers are receiving a higher quality education and being taught to be more aware of the problems in their countries and the world. However, I think that the main influence is people like you, leaders in communities who are able to inspire younger generations.
The first thing we have to recognize is teenagers as valuable parts of our society as a whole. By seeing them this way, we are allowing them to be inspired to do something for people in need.
Being a leader through our example
Never expect that people younger than you will do something that you won’t do. Studies have shown that we, by nature, are programed to model the behavior of our elders and follow their examples. If you expect a teenager to be able to act a certain way then you should be able to act this way too; if they see a positive leader, they will follow the model.
We have been told time and time again that empathy is putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes. However, it goes far beyond the typical explanation. Having empathy is really feeling what others are feeling. If a person feels pain, having empathy is not just saying “I understand what you feel”; it is being there by their side and feeling their same pain. Teenagers don’t want to hear the phrase “I understand what you feel”, they want to feel understood and that we are there by their side through all their experiences and emotions.
This is what teenagers are most looking for at this stage of life: they want to be confident and have the opportunity to show their talent. Psychological studies have shown that the more confidence you place on someone, the more they will act in the way you expect. To be able to motivate teenagers to want to help the less fortunate and use their leadership abilities, we have to place confidence in them so they feel the responsibility. We have to trust they will be the ones to make a change and with this motivation they will be able to succeed.
Always praising their effort
It is very important that you never let a person who is volunteering or doing another activity feel invisible. When the teenager does something well, praise him/her for it. If you are a leader or coordinator of an activity praise all your volunteers. Try to learn their names to make them feel as important as they are.
Give them a purpose
“Why am I doing all this work?” is the question every teenager will ask. They can’t do volunteer work as an obligation; they have to feel that their job has a purpose or meaning and that they are making a difference in society. Whether it’s painting a wall or giving medical aid, they have to feel like they are helping the community. Personally, I have seen that working with communities or seeing the reactions and gratitude of the less fortunate gives teenagers a purpose and when they see this they want to continue making a difference.
We should eliminate all thoughts that today’s youth is more selfish. Today, more than ever the world is connected and we can see all the suffering that exists worldwide. This has made us aware of the real necessities of the population. Teenagers are the first to see these necessities and now more than ever they want to help in one way or another.