Parents, teachers, coaches, youth leaders, and other adults can help generation iY find a positive future by leveraging their in?uence and taking their place as leaders.
1. Help generation iY find a positive future by being different from previous generations.
Generation iY is motivated to create new realities. They have boundless energy and creative spirits. It’s important to encourage these qualities while helping iYers be themselves and de?ne their own identity. (It may be far different from their older siblings).204 Save the Future
2. Work with generation iY to find a positive future and to develop strong personal values.
They live in an eclectic and pluralistic world. If they are not value-driven, they will shift as they encounter pressure from the culture. They must come to see themselves as individuals who possess a solid set of values and can collaborate with each other and with other generations to create something new.
3. Help generation iY find a positive future by helping them learn to make and keep short-term commitments.
Young men and woman accustomed to “instant everything” may well need some speci?c training in deferring grati?cation and keeping commitments. Help them put legitimate wins under their belt—not contrived “everyone wins” accolades!
Succeeding at such short-term commitments could lead them into attempting longer, deeper commitments. If they commit to a team or a project, for instance, and later want to quit because they didn’t get a lot of playing time or the project got boring, challenge them to stick to it until the end of the season. (Remind them they don’t need to recommit, but they must follow through with what they started.)
4. Help generation iY find a positive future by working with them to simplify their lives and deal with stress.
As we have seen, Generation iY students feel a lot of pressure…and they can put pressure on themselves. They have a passion to make a difference and get all they can out of life, and many have perfectionist tendencies. They must learn to simplify, to ?gure out what really matters, to set realistic goals and organize their time.
They may need help turning their lofty dreams into bite-sized objectives with doable deadlines. In the process, they will learn to set shortterm, achievable goals and maintain momentum toward their long-term goals. At the same time, it’s important to realize that for an iYer, multitasking isn’t necessarily stressful, and simplifying life doesn’t necessarily mean “one thing at a time.”
In fact, forcing an iYer to stop multitasking by forbidding cell phones, music, and so forth may actually add to his or her stress. If a kid is doing well in school, relating well to others, and getting enough sleep to be healthy, having lots of “i” input may not be a problem.
5. Communicating that there is meaning even in the small, mundane tasks will help generation iY find a positive future.
Give them a sense of the big picture and how all the little things they do ?t into the big picture of history, or at least into the big picture of the organization.
Provide a macro view in their present micro world. (As an educator, for instance, I have asked students to set up chairs—a quite menial task—but I’ve taken time ?rst to share how that simple job helps us achieve the strategic objective for the student body.)
As much as possible, provide consistent feedback, at least at the beginning of a task. Help young people determine personal achievement goals, and stick by them in a mentoring role while they work to achieve them. And don’t forget to celebrate even small wins.
6. Help generation iY find a positive future by helping them to focus.
As we have seen, Generation Y tends to spread themselves too thin and go wide instead of deep. Work with them to focus on one meaningful objective at a time. You might sit down with a kid and list all the goals she has for the week, then help her prioritize, challenging her to do ?rst things ?rst and not proceed to a new item until she has completed the item before it.
7. Work with generation iY find a positive future by helping them to appreciate strengths in others.
Generation iY already embraces diversity. In fact, they may be able to teach adults a thing or two about that. But they might need a little encouragement to recognize other people’s strengths. Highlight individual differences and point out how each person’s gifts and skills adds value to a team. In addition, help them become willing to function independently of their friends. Work to build interdependence rather than codependence.
8. Creating opportunities for face-to-face interaction so they can learn to interact in the nonvirtual world will help generation iY find a positive future.
For instance, my wife, and I have had our kids host parties where they learn how to initiate face-toface relationships. We worked to position them in social settings where they interacted with people outside of their peer group, both younger and older.
By the time they turned twelve, we also worked with other parents to prepare them to resolve con?ict with friends (peers), on their own when possible. We felt it was important for them to learn to communicate and work out differences as well as enjoy being together.
9. Help generation iY find a positive future by providing opportunities for them to participate in a cause that’s bigger than they are.
Challenge them to expand their horizons and give their time and money sacri?cially for a cause that speaks to them. Give them the chance to invest their lives in something truly worthwhile. I have done this with teens and college students for years, and more recently I have done it with my own kids.
Trips to a local rescue mission or to a developing nation can give young people a chance to serve and see how most of the world lives with less. (One in six people in the world live on a dollar a day.) Even work days at local social service agencies can offer kids the chance to be involved.
Encourage them to bring their friends if it makes the experience easier. Their lives will be richer when they learn that ful?llment comes not from personal pleasure, but from global purpose.206 Save the Future
10. Enabling them to take control of their lives, to boss their calendars will help generation iY find a positive future.
Young people tend to be reactive, not proactive, when it comes to their time. They don’t have a plan; they just let things happen. Work with them to set their priorities and require them (within limits) to live with the consequences of their decisions.
Let them see that failure isn’t ?nal and poor judgment does not necessarily re?ect poor character. Help them slow down and make sense of what goals they really want to pursue. Balance schedules and allow kids to ease into challenges that are beyond a parent’s ability to shelter them.
11. Help generation iY find a positive future by resourcing them with your network.
Their dreams will require your assets. In other words, you can accelerate their growth by exposing them to the social networks you’ve established. Help them pursue internships at organizations you’re a part of and invite them to gatherings where they can meet potential mentors.
For the last few years, I’ve taken my kids to meet adults who do what they’ve dreamed of doing in their careers. Over dinner, they can ask questions they’ve prepared to learn more about the people and their professions. If nothing else, such outings give kids practice in interacting outside of their limited world of peers.
12. Help generation iY find a positive future by challenging them to take their place in history.
Do what you can to give them a sense of destiny and a desire to make a long-term contribution. Talk to them about heroes from history (historical mentors) and give special focus to ones from their grandparents’ generation. In my experience, Millennial young people long for mentors who are genuine and accessible.
In fact, assessments we’ve done at Growing Leaders indicate that mentoring communities are their preferred method of learning. They don’t want a sage on the stage, remember, but a guide on the side. Know anyone who could ?ll this role?
This article is an excerpt from parenting expert and author, Dr. Tim Elmore and his book Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future
Dr. Tim Elmore is an author, speaker and generational leadership expert with more than 30 years of experience working with parents and students. He is the President of Growing Leaders, a non-profit organization that addresses the challenges of understanding and mentoring the younger generation.
Dr. Tim Elmore is the founder and president of Growing Leaders, an international organization created to teach parents, educators and youth workers how to mentor Generation Y into tomorrow’s leaders.
He and his team coach middle school, high school and college students on the skills they need to become successful in life with a huge potential to transform society.
He also hosts parenting events in communities throughout the U.S., sharing insight, encouragement and practical steps on how to creatively parent teens today. Popular topics include identifying and overcoming damaging parenting styles, speaking the same language, understanding your teens’ greatest needs, and equipping them for today’s society.
Dr. Elmore is the official parenting expert at HowToLearn.com.