If you’ve worked with youth for very long, chances are that you will have noticed that some of them seem like persistent “live wires,” while others can seem lethargic, even to the point of appearing disengaged. The presence of neither individual needs to be taken as a necessarily bad sign, but such youth can admittedly be worrisome. particularly if you never had those kinds of tendencies yourself as you were growing up, or if it seems to be affecting the health and progress of the group. While some of this might be basic information to a more seasoned youth worker, here are some points you might want to bear in mind concerning youth and their activity levels:

  1. In general youth experience the same emotions and issues as anyone else, but they do so without the depths of experience and context that often comes with age. Accordingly, sometimes youth will respond in ways that indicate that they have strong feelings with no place to go, so they express those feelings in a much more emphatic way. While this can include signs of withdrawal or rejection, it more often manifests in a group setting as nervous energy looking for an outlet. Many of the young people you work with are experiencing a number of challenges to which you cannot relate, no matter that you may have gone through some of the same things at some point, and that only adds to the potential emotional energy seeking release. If adults are easy to get fired up when you press their buttons, and modern social discourse and entertainment prove that they are, how much more so might this happen with someone who is nowhere nearly as experienced in handling emotional situations and unsettling thoughts?

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