Life Coaching and Skills for Teens & Young Adults: helping build confidence, motivation and resilience

Do your kids need a hand getting motivated, finding their direction in the world, or working out who they are?

These are not new obstacles by any means, but the current generation of kids and young adults certainly face complex challenges and stressors – ranging from bullying (on- and off-line) to uncertainty over their future in the workplace and the state of the planet.

Kidsbook caught up with Caroline Lewis, a teen and young adult (YA) life coach who markets her services under The Self Project brand, for her insights on this and more. Highlights of her approach include:

  • Promoting a can-do attitude;
  • Helping kids embrace their uniqueness;
  • Building emotional power and resilience

Coaching vs therapy

Caroline started by making an important distinction about life coaching and how it differs from therapy. 

“Life coaching is all about focusing on where you want to go, rather than analysing the past. Coaching puts you on the field whilst I am on the sideline offering tactics and strategies. I help you discover your values and identity in a safe, non-judgmental space, which gives you the opportunity to ‘try it on for size’!

Life coaching is all about focusing on where you want to go, rather than analysing the past

Caroline Lewis, The Self Project

I use the ‘Wheel of Life’ tool to help my ‘clients’ appreciate that even when one part of our life is not going so great, there are so many other aspects of it that are going pretty well. People – and especially kids – often judge themselves harshly by focussing on only one dimension; like how they look, or how many friends they have. I like to think of ourselves like diamonds; multi-faceted and able to sparkle when held up to the light; we can learn to appreciate ourselves as a whole made up of many sides….and there’s always room for improvement!”

Through her contact with young people she also has a very clear idea of some of the major challenges facing the kids and YA of today. 

Challenges facing YA

“YA are particularly stressed out about their future, and many of them just see this dark abyss and no idea what’s ‘out there’. The fear of failure is huge, as is the pressure for perfection – especially for girls, who simultaneously need to be hot/sexy, clever/intelligent and sporty – what’s called ‘the triple bind’. Even though young people are encouraged to be different, there is also strong pressure to conform – with the way they dress or bow to peer pressure. These pressures are especially true for girls. Body image is one of the top issues affecting both boys & girls today, with 80% of teenage girls believing the media sets unrealistic & unattainable standards for beauty.”

The pressure for perfection is huge – especially for girls, who simultaneously need to be hot/sexy, clever/intelligent and sporty – what’s called ‘the triple bind’

Caroline Lewis, The Self Project

“Bullying is another factor in young peoples’ lives, though with digital devices it has morphed and now doesn’t stop at the playground – so there is no real escape from it. Tech and social media overload is another factor, given that some kids are spending 7-9 hours per day on average on some form of electronic device. Then there are also the influences of drugs and alcohol and making choices against their better judgement, which is nothing new but the pressure to ‘fit in’ is perhaps stronger now.”

“Parents certainly want only the best for their children, however they don’t realise the pressure they may be putting on them to perform academically, socially and on the sports field. My clients often say “I don’t want to disappoint my parents but I also don’t want to fail”. They are often caught ‘between a rock and a hard place’.

Giving kids a can-do attitude

Caroline describes her coaching approach as more practical, hands-on and creative – with the goal of:

  • Promoting a can-do attitude;
  • Helping kids embrace their uniqueness;
  • Building emotional power and resilience to help kids realise how capable they are;
  • Understanding how and where they fit and function in the world;
  • Helping kids create their own brand, based on their values, self-worth and an understanding of their identity;
  • Helping kids understand and acknowledge that there are different kinds of success; 
  • Making informed decisions and developing the strength of character to say “NO!”;
  • Choosing true friends, people who build you up and make you feel good about themselves.

To help young people find their true self, their voice, their intrinsic strength

Caroline has a wealth of experience – but no letters after her name – preferring to rely on her lived experiences – which she has in spades. Besides managing a successful design agency she has at various points acted as a mentor (YWCA In-School Mentor Program), a foster parent – and cites the challenges of raising her own two children as an extremely useful resource. She is also the only Teen Wisdom Certified Life Coach in Australia, which focuses on the core demographic of teen girls and young women of Gen Y, Z, and Alpha – with the mission to empower them. 

Her personal mission statement is, “To help young people find their true self, their voice, their intrinsic strength and their place in this world, to make an impact of their own”, but struggles with the approach to modern life which is, “All about the destination and not the journey”. Caroline runs 1-on-1 sessions which run for 6-18 weeks, as well as curated workshops for groups of 6-20 teens, young adults and parents too! 

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