Skip Navigation

Carson's Corner

What You Can Do to Enable Kids to Grow Up

November 13, 2018
By Jason Carson
 
Update of the Day: Discover the leadership book John Maxwell wishes he had learned from when he was a student. Click here.

What You Can Do to Enable Kids to Grow Up

Nov 13, 2018 06:00 am
social-fb.jpg social-tw.jpg

After a lively debate with a student group about the essence of healthy leadership, one student approached me with an indifferent attitude toward preparing to be a leader. When the subject came up of how slowly kids are maturing today, this male student said to me:

“What’s the big hurry? I’ll probably live until I’m a hundred. I’ve got plenty of time to learn about leadership. Right now, I want to have a good time.”

The truth is—he’s right. He may just live until he’s a centenarian. And he may have plenty of time to learn leadership once he’s an adult. I would simply argue—we need the energy and creativity today’s youngest generation brings when they’re on a team.

Why Do They Stay in the Waiting Room?

Almost a decade ago, I began to spot evidence that kids today are maturing more slowly than the past three generations of kids. I heard university administrators say: “26 is the new 18.” In my book, Generation iY—Secrets to Connecting with Today’s Teens & Young Adults in the Digital AgeI relayed this evidence, which has only increased with time. Social psychologist Jean Twenge confirms how students today transition to adulthood more slowly. The activities that typically mark the threshold between childhood and adulthood are happening later—getting a job; driving a car; drinking alcohol; and going out on a date. Generation Z is waiting longer to do these things nationwide and does them less than previous generations of students. While some of these realities are good news to parents and teachers, they also signal a larger issue.

Why are they waiting?

Social scientists identify a number of reasons why Generation Z is waiting to mature. 21st century kids have experienced less unsupervised time without an adult around, which typically fosters dependence on those adults. They have more time alone on their phone with peers, which also can foster immaturity. A growing number doesn’t feel the need to get out and socially interact with friends, as long as they’re on social media at home. Due to all of these factors, teens are actually safer now than ever, and yet more of today’s kids are playing it safe because they are afraid.

Afraid? Seriously?

The Chicken or the Egg?

Yes. In our focus groups where we asked middle school students why they don’t go out more with friends, they said they didn’t feel they needed to—and that it was “safer at home.” When we asked high school students why they’re waiting to get their driver’s license, the number one answer was: “I’m afraid. Traffic is scary.”

My question is—which really came first?

It’s a “chicken or the egg” question. Are kids afraid because they are not doing as much, or are they not doing as much because they are afraid? In other words, are they doing less because parents prevent them from doing more (out of their fears), or are they afraid because they lack the experience? In summary:

  • Are they waiting because they are afraid?
  • Or, are they afraid because they are waiting?

In my childhood, one of the greatest reasons I was able to overcome fears was jumping headfirst into new experiences. I could hardly wait to get my driver’s license or to fly on a plane.  I still enjoy them—even though I’ve been in seven car crashes and one plane crash during my adult life. “Running to the roar” is my remedy to fear. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “Do the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certain.” Franklin Roosevelt said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

One Step You Can Take: Give Them Responsibility

I believe students today would benefit from increased, genuine responsibility. Apart from school studies or even sports, humans mature and become confident when they take on actual responsible tasks. We don’t truly build leaders until those students take on authentic responsibility. They must learn to lift something heavy, figuratively speaking. They must take on something hard. This will draw out the leader within, and the “adult” who wants to come out—but it is prevented with our “safety first” bias. While I obviously believe in safety, our fears have prevented kids from being at their best; from taking on new challenges. Let’s be sure and help them face their fears—if need be—by taking on something important. In the same way that we don’t get stronger by watching a video of someone working out in a fitness center, but by lifting those weights ourselves—the same goes for our young.

The post What You Can Do to Enable Kids to Grow Up appeared first on Growing Leaders.

social-fb.jpg social-tw.jpg
The New Habitudes Book That Defines
The Ultimate Profile of a Leader
Habitudes for Life-Giving Leaders

Tim Elmore has done it again. This book is chalk full of principles young leaders will benefit from. I wish I’d learned them when I was a student." 

- Dr. John C. Maxwell, 
Best-Selling Author & 
Founder of the John Maxwell Company

Habitudes for Life-Giving Leaders: The Art of Transformational Leadership uses the power of images, conversations, and experiences to help students:

  • Lead in a way that energizes and inspires team members.
  • Listen and understand others through empathy and compassion.
  • Provide a safety net that accelerates productivity on the team.
  • Offer hard feedback that elicits more effort rather than hurt feelings.
  • Mobilize team members to become the best version of themselves.
  • . . . and many more!

Click on the button below to order Habitudes for Life-Giving Leaders today for only $11.99!

Order Now

Recent Articles:

Positive Discipline: Three Practical Strategies Parents Can Use
My Favorite Leadership Quotes
When Positive Words Negatively Affect Students
How to Manage Impulsive Reactions
Building Resilient Students: How to Get Out of Your Own Way 
Join Me Online
Twitter
Facebook