OLIVER’S GREATEST CHALLENGE is why he worries so much.
He is 15, a good looking kid but a bit of a late bloomer who still has a very boyish face and has only recently begun to grow taller. Until he started main school, he had a number of friends. They played sports, rode bikes, played video games, had sleepovers and life was great.
Things began to change when he was 13.
Some of the boys in his group started to enjoy being with girls. Oliver liked girls but he wasn’t as confident with them as his friends were. Soon some of his friends started drinking and smoking, they were less interested or available to “just be boys” anymore. At the end of the year Oliver’s main friend joined the rugby team and so his entire childhood social group had disappeared.
In school, he struggled to keep up with the coursework: his self-confidence was suffering; he worried almost constantly and was growing more and more discouraged; he wasn’t having the experiences he needed to become more socially adept and confident.
Extra tutoring meant he wasn’t learning how to manage school work on his own. He spent a lot of time home alone, playing video games and surfing the net… Unfortunately, he was also spending far too much time in his own head, thinking and worrying.
There was no joy in his life and little fun.
THE FIRST THING we noticed when we met him was that Oliver’s posture was tight and rigid. It was hard to get him to speak up. He seemed concerned that he might say something that would reveal he was not “cool”.
ON SATURDAY AT THE end of lunch I approached him and said, “Oliver, let’s go for a walk.” We were near a shopping precinct with several cafes and a park. He was caught a bit off guard by my offer, but didn’t hesitate to come along.
“So what’s your story?” I asked as we walked. I like doing this work with a teen who is as tense as he is, while we walk. It is harder to be so uptight while walking in a park.
Over the next 15 minutes he told me the story of his last few years.
I listened intently, asked a few questions but made no comments.
When he finally finished talking I said, “Let me ask you a question: What do you think of this programme so far? Is it interesting? Do you think we know what we are talking about? Is there any value in it?”
Without hesitation he replied, “To be honest, it’s a lot better than I thought it would be.”
“Be more specific please!” I insisted.
“Well the stuff you are saying about how to be ok under pressure makes perfect sense and I can already see how some things would have been different if I had known this a year ago… and the whole talk you had with that girl Ella this morning about learning how to sort through all the opinions and information we get, to just find what is actually useful, was really interesting…”
“Good. I am glad to hear it,” I replied. “The fact that I know it is useful, doesn’t matter unless you actually realise it too. So let me ask you this, when you begin to think about your life and your future from the perspective we are teaching, what do you realise?”
“Hmmm.. well, I’m tense and that this is keeping me from being more assertive… It’s time I start to do more of my school work on my own or else I will never be prepared for college… and I realise that there are a few things I really like, that I could start doing right away,” he said confidently.
“Like what?” I asked.
“Well like I love stand up comedy. I watch tons of it and have even read a few books about it. There is a Club at my school and I could easily go join it. There is this bloke in my maths class who is in it and he and I quote funny lines from movies in class, so he might be someone to go with…”
Our conversation went on for another 20 minutes like this.
When Oliver returned to the group after our walk, he was sitting differently, was more relaxed and spoke with much more confidence.
The first thing he asked for when given the chance was “to learn more about how to stay composed under pressure… like when I am doing public speaking or being in front of an audience, I want to be able to be chilled.”
We spent a lot of the remaining time engaging with him, teaching him and encouraging him.
He was a different kid when he left. He was lighter, more relaxed, more confident… and for the first time in a long time, was hopeful and positive about his future.
And he continues to be.
And so will your teenagers, if we get the chance to teach them the kinds of things we teach at HeroPath For Teens.
We look forward to meeting your teenager where they are, and playing a role in helping them grow into who they can become. Or call Des Barry on 01923 267 107 to discover how HeroPath can help you and your family in your life.
Jeffrey Leiken, Master Trainer HeroPath.