While most teens are indifferent toward me, others show friendliness by smiling or waving hello and goodbye. I respond to these behaviors with smiling and friendliness back to them. Some teens do not show friendliness due to shyness or lack of social skills: instead they offer to help me carry things to my car. They are practicing helpfulness. I support their behavior and show appreciation to encourage more of the same.
Learning about virtues, such as creativity, will help you to be more in tune to identifying them in others. In one class, I had a group make nametags for themselves—a simple project involving markers and an index card. One teen haphazardly scrawled his name on the index card and then took a pipe cleaner and shoved it through the nametag with messy intention. Although not quite a work of art in the end, it was his way of expressing himself creatively.
Practicing the virtues in our everyday lives helps us make connections with others. We become more in tune with the positive aspects of our self, which makes it easier to recognize the same in those around us. When we learn to speak the language of the virtues, we call forth the best in others and ourselves. Teens especially need the benefit of adults who can see and acknowledge the virtues in them. Your own understanding and perceptiveness will help you find the gifts in others.
J.C. Smith facilitates a teen pregnancy prevention and life skills program for at risk-teens in St. Petersburg, FL. She attended University of South Florida and obtained her B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences.