Demonstrate trust in youth by letting go of your own assumptions, expectations, and power. Be willing to take risks and allow space for trial and error. This may require placing higher value on the process over an end result.
Background and Strategies
Throughout their education and training, adults have learned that an end product should be edited, revised, and polished. Thus, it can seem unnatural to value the process more than the end result. However, when working with youth, focusing on the ‘means’ rather than the ‘ends’ is precisely the goal: to organize youth, to create space for their lived experiences, to provide support in order for their visions to come to fruition. This requires a great deal of letting go and trusting youth.
Youth On Board (2001) published Tips from Young People to provide guidance to adults on how to work effectively with youth. The document emphasizes the need for adults to allow young people to be in charge, “Find things that they can teach you. Resist the urge to guide the direction you want them to go. If they see that you are willing to give them power in the relationship, they will see you as more of the peer that you are and open up to you more about their lives” (Youth On Board, 2001, p. 6).
A major part of supporting youth is trusting them to know their issues better than adults know youth issues. In order for meaningful, effective outcomes, let go and trust youth.