I love observing teens. I get a kick out of them. They have so much vitality and life to them and they are usually quite honest. It’s refreshing.
We have had quite a few teens at our house over the years. And I’ve done a lot of observing.
I’ve noticed a couple of things in my observations.
1) Teens who barely talk to adults are teens to be watched.
2) Don’t just watch how teens interact with adults; watch how teens interact with other teens.
A big indicator to me, of a teen who doesn’t care how they are interpreted and is willing to take risks in their life, is a teen who doesn’t talk to adults. It is the kids who interact with their friends’ parents, who are usually the ones who have parents of their own who are involved in their lives. It shows in how they respect adults and carry themselves. They don’t think they are too good or too popular to talk to a “parent.”
On the other hand, I’ve observed many, many teens pull the wool over adults’ eyes because they know how to act nice. I’ve heard adults talk about these same kids and rave about what good kids they are and how mature they are only to find out from teens themselves, that that is not the case.
Kids do know what is expected of them. And they know how to act mature when the situation calls for it. But the true test is to watch them when they don’t know you are watching them.
Listen to their chatter. Observe how they handle themselves online on facebook, twitter, and instagram. Watch how they treat their peers in basketball, volleyball, or as they walk to and from school.
Watch and learn.
I’ve caught teens rolling their eyes behind their parents’ backs and complaining about them. I’ve seen teens laughing at their peers. I’ve watched how they carry themselves and how generous or not so generous they are with others.
It tells a lot about how they respect others, are empathetic and compassionate with others, and how well they will honor and treasure my child’s feelings when they choose to lay their heart before their peer.
Teens are smart. And overall, most of them are good. But they ARE smart. A few poised words and well-thought out actions in front of adults doesn’t account for a good kid. It simply accounts for a smart one.