In order to be adult allies, adults have to learn to listen to children and listen to youth. Listening can be simple, painless and easy; it can also be complex, painful and hard. Either way, adults have to learn to listen to young people in order to get past just hearing what they said. This is how adult allies listen to young people.
This is how to listen to young people:
- Open my heart and mind to children and youth
- Release my assumptions about young people and their interests and abilities to speak for themselves
- Make space for children and youth to speak for themselves
- Be quiet and listen to young people
- Ensure opportunities for children and youth to speak for themselves always
- Continue always to stay mindful about my voice, my listening and my actions that affect young people
- Constantly be aware of my conscious and unconscious impact on children and youth
- Step aside so young people speak for themselves
- Advocate for children and youth to always speak for themselves
- When they are absent, speak for young people who cannot speak for themselves
- Constantly and deliberately build my ability and the ability of other adults to listen to children and youth
- Intentionally and deliberate move from listening to validating; validating to authorizing; authorizing to action; action to reflection; and reflection to listening again.
This isn’t meant to be completely comprehensive; instead, its intended to hold space for adults who want to learn what they can do for themselves and young people in order to build their ability to listen to children and youth.
What would you add? Share your thoughts in the comments below.